Campaign donation requests say the darndest things. Take, for instance, a fresh-off-the-keyboard e-mail received from the Basic Rights Equality PAC -- the political finance arm of Basic Rights Oregon -- that ties the views of one pollster to those of the Senate Republicans.
First, the e-mail starts by quoting from a Willamette Week article:
"It’s hard to believe. But there it was in bold print in ‘Willamette Week’: an advisor to Oregon Senate Republicans ‘advocates death for gays.’ "
The e-mail continues, making some assertions of its own:
"It’s shocking that candidates in Oregon would be so blatantly anti-gay -- even advocating violence."
Indeed, it is shocking. That’s why PolitiFact Oregon decided to check it out.
As a basis for their claim, Basic Right Oregon points to the Willamette Week article, which reported on "an advisor to Oregon Senate Republicans" and his alleged extreme anti-gay views. A quick Google search, and we had before us the article with the perfectly provocative headline "Republican Pollster In Oregon Says Slaves ‘Well-Treated’; Advocates Death for Gays."
According to the article, state filings showed that the campaign arm of the Senate Republicans had paid thousands of dollars to Target Market Strategies for polling over the past few years. Senate Democrats pounced when they learned that Dennis Oliver Woods, the "company principal" of Target Market Strategies, had published a book that included the following passages:
"Some crimes are such a violent assault on the image of God in man or on biblical society that God stipulates that nothing less than death will satisfy His offended sense of justice."
And then this one:
"In addition to murder (see Lev. 24:17), the death penalty is specified for a number of crimes. This is the ultimate form of restitution. These crimes include promotion of witchcraft…Bestiality (see Lev. 20:15), homosexuality (see Lev. 20:13), incest and adultery ..."
We decided to give Woods a call directly to discuss his views. He wouldn’t chat with us but instead sent us an e-mail that didn’t do much to address what he actually thought. "My point of view is really irrelevant now since the Senate Republican caucus has dismissed me and I am no longer working for them," he wrote.
PolitiFact Oregon wrote him back, asking for clarification. He never responded.
To learn more, we got our hands on a copy of his book, "Discipling the Nations," from which all this was excerpted.
The book says that "Part III," the section excerpted in Willamette Week, "offers God’s Blueprint for Civil Government. Chapter 7 holds forth the Word of God as the only adequate rule for civil government."
Michael Gay, the spokesman for the Senate Republicans, says they did not know about Woods’ book, which was published more than 10 years ago and is not widely distributed. They have since stopped using his services.
"He served no advisory function to the caucus whatsoever," Gay said. "He was merely a vendor who made phone calls.
"We wrote the poll questions, we told him what to ask, he was scripted."
Maya Blackmun, a spokeswoman for Basic Rights Oregon, argues, "(I)t's common knowledge that on political campaigns pollsters are a key player in advising and consulting on a campaign, interpreting results, providing cross tab analysis, targeting profiles, connecting messages with key audiences, etc."
Even if Woods does believe in the death penalty for gays and even if he was an adviser to the Senate Republicans, Basic Rights Oregon asserted that Republican candidates are "blatantly anti-gay -- even advocating violence."
PolitiFact Oregon finds no evidence of this claim. Certainly, no member of the Republican Senate caucus has spoken in support of Woods’ views or said anything remotely similar.
Blackmun concedes that the e-mail could have done with a bit of editing. It would have been fairer, she said, had the e-mail read something to the effect of "it’s shocking that an adviser to candidates in Oregon would be so blatantly anti-gay."
"We made a mistake," Blackmun said. "The additional words would have made it clearer."
We find the claim that Senate Republicans are advocating violence against gays False.
E-mail from Basic Rights Equality PAC, campaign arm of Basic Rights Oregon
Willamette Week, Republican Pollster In Oregon Says Slaves "Well-Treated"; Advocates Death for Gays, Sept. 22, 2010
Interview with Michael Gay, spokesman for Senate Republicans, Oct. 13, 2010
E-mails from Maya Blackmun, spokeswoman for Basic Rights Oregon, Oct. 14, 2010
Dennis Woods, "Discipling the Nations," March 1996
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