A political nonprofit supporting business interests is set to blast off another attack ad on Gov. Kate Brown Sunday, this time focused on lambasting her administration for failing to adequately respond to flaws in the state’s day care system.
The nonprofit, Priority Oregon, last month launched a website and ads attacking the Democratic governor for problems such as failing to protect children in foster care.
The upcoming ad, to be broadcast on television and digital media, also comes along with a new website with information based on news articles and an internal audit about the day care system.
It comes at a time when Brown is campaigning for reelection.
“State regulators are overlooking children being hurt, abused or neglected at day cares. Governor Brown and her administration put the safety of Oregon kids on the back burner,” said Erica Hetfeld, Priority Oregon’s executive director. “It’s time for Governor Brown to take serious action to address this crisis before more of our kids die or leave dangerous day cares with broken bones.”
The ad highlights newspaper reports about children who were sickened from an insecticide at a Coos Bay day care centers, children with broken bones at a provider in Keizer and a marijuana dispensary owner who also operated a day care center.
“Instead of making changes, Governor Brown hired a Washington, D.C., PR firm to do damage control,” the ad states, referring to an article by The Oregonian.
Priority Oregon dates back to 2016 when it helped successfully campaign against an Oregon tax on corporate sales. The group has yet to disclose the membership on its board of directors and who is funding its political activities.
Hetfield said the group plans to file required disclosures with the IRS later this year.
Jim Moore, a political science professor and director of the Tom McCall Center for Political Innovation, said Priority Oregon’s attack on Brown resembles campaign tactics of Republican statewide candidates who have sought to unseat Democratic incumbents.
In 2014, Republican gubernatorial nominee Dennis Richardson attacked incumbent John Kitzhaber over the failure of Cover Oregon, the state’s healthcare marketplace website.
“This is a continuation of that argument,” Moore said of the Priority Oregon ad. “It is the same message that Democratic leadership has gone on for too long and led to a government that is not functioning as it ought to, at its best, and at its worst, is corrupt.”
Thomas Wheatley, Brown’s campaign advisor, did not immediately have comment on the ad.
However, he told The Oregonian last month that there’s an “obvious political agenda” behind Priority Oregon, which he called a “dark money group.”
“The leaders of this group should be held accountable themselves before they cast aspersions against our state’s governor,” he told the newspaper.