Guest Opinion: DeBoer played both sides

You may be surprised to know that Alan DeBoer voted in the State Senate against the health care funding plan that Oregon voters just approved in Measure 101.

The plan was called House Bill 2391 and, despite DeBoer’s opposition, it passed the Legislature and ensured coverage for 350,000 Oregonians.

Opponents then put it on the Jan. 23 ballot, where a no vote would have overturned HB 2391.

DeBoer gave an interview in the January Sneak Preview saying he originally supported legislation that assessed only hospitals to help fund the Oregon Health Plan.

But an assessment on hospitals alone would not have raised enough money, so the Legislature added a small temporary tax on insurance companies.

After that addition, DeBoer said, he decided to vote no.

“The hospitals came to us and voluntarily agreed to be taxed, then we started changing things with HB 2391,” he said. “I didn’t think it was right, so I voted no as a protest vote.”

In voting against the health care plan that Jackson County voters just approved by about 58 percent, DeBoer was voting with some of the most right-wing members of the Legislature, such as tea party Republican Dennis Linthicum of Klamath Falls.

By voting no and then giving a media interview citing his “protest vote,” DeBoer gave a wink to any constituent thinking of voting against Measure 101 — at the same time that he was telling other constituents he was now for it.

DeBoer’s pattern of claiming to stand for the public interest while actually serving corporate special interests got me interested in the latest corporate contributions to the Alan DeBoer for State Senate committee. (These are available on the Oregon Secretary of State’s website.)

On Jan. 22, 2018, Allstate Insurance and Physicians Insurance — two out-of-state insurance companies — gave DeBoer campaign contributions totaling $3,500. On Dec. 27, he received a contribution from Massachusetts-based Liberty Mutual Insurance. This is on top of contributions in 2016 from the American Insurance Association — the industry’s national lobbying group.

DeBoer said at a town hall that contributions from corporate special interests aren’t connected to legislative votes he casts. Does this mean these corporate interests are incompetent and waste their money for no reason?

Apparently a lot of companies don’t think so. Chevron gave money on Jan. 22, and Phillips 66 and Portland General Electric gave during 2017 — while DeBoer is playing an important role in opposing the Clean Energy Jobs Act that would speed our transition from fossil fuels to cleaner sources like solar.

Oregon Realtors Political Action Committee gave money last year after DeBoer helped defeat legislation to stabilize rents charged by the largest landlords in the state.

A division of the Altria Group, the parent company of Philip Morris and U.S. Smokeless Tobacco, contributed after DeBoer voted against legislation aimed at reducing teenage smoking in Oregon.

Many Jackson County residents knocked on doors, made phone calls and turned in ballots to pass Measure 101. We all deserve elected leadership just as firmly committed to the public interest.

— Matt Witt is a writer and photographer living in Talent.

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