Seth Woolley's Blog

Occasional Musings

Thu Mar 21 07:19:47 2013 -- StatementRegardingHalesComplaint.txt


Election Law (and now Tax Law) Complaint

Initial Filing

Read the Cover letters to local election officials

Complaint w/o attachments with copies of articles:

Attachments composed of copies of newspaper articles:

Update #1 4:30pm 4-18

I have received a reply from Tim Scott, the Multnomah County Elections Director which I have provided here:

My reply is provided below:

Update #2 5:45pm 4-18

The reply from the Auditor is that they're going to defer to Scott:

Update #3 3:45pm 4-19

The reply from the SOS is that they're going to defer to Scott:

Things are playing out pretty much how I expected.  Stay tuned. More to come.

Update #4 2:25pm 4-23

I have now filed a report of possible tax fraud and tax evasion, supported by my communications with elections officials regarding Hales's residency and information in the original complaint.

You can find a copy at the address here:

(Still no follow up reply from Director Scott.)

Update #5 10:40am 5-04

I have also filed a new complaint regarding Charlie Hales's not paying Multnomah County ITAX:

Update #6 9:07am 9-28

I have submitted a new complaint document which addresses all replies above and makes jurisdiction and interpretation clear with references to case law.

The Secretary is required to investigate this matter and I point out that the county investigation was inadequate, not just incorrect.

Update #7 12:15am 10-24

Secretary Brown's office has been sitting on this for a few weeks now. The good news is they haven't rejected it, but sent back a form letter essentially saying they have received it.

That probably means they will actually do some sort of investigation.

In-process investigations are confidential in both tax and election law, so now we wait until an indictment comes down.  It will have to be one or the other according to most legal experts I have heard from.  If nothing happens, enforcement may be compelled through the courts.

Update #8 10:15:35pm 12-05

Portland City Council accepted a report today from the city auditor certifying the election of Charlie Hales based on election results provided by the Multnomah County Director of Elections.

Three Citizens, all of whom are listed as endorsers of Scott Fernandez in the primary mayoral election voter guide:\

Nancy, Cherie, and Rose Marie testified in opposition to accepting the certification until such time as the question of qualification is adequately investigated.  The Council, through Mayor Adams, in reply, made it clear that they were merely accepting a report and that this action would not prevent further action in courts regarding this issue.

You can hear 14 minutes of mp3 audio here:

The city attorney made it clear that council had no role in whether or not he would be removed if he were not qualified: the charter says that the office will immediately become vacant without any action by council.  They appeared to be washing their hands of the issue as much as they could and spent a considerable amount of time trying to cover themselves in case of any future litigation.

There still has been no reply to the Sept 27th filing.  If there is no reply, I may be forced to compel the Secretary of State to perform an investigation that she has not performed.  The County Director of Elections did perform an investigation but it was legally inadequate per case law, and the Secretary should direct them on how to determine voter registration and if they insist on improperly determining, they can step in themselves and make their own determination overriding Multnomah County Elections as Chief Elections Officer.  Such complaints (and it may take a series) to compel enforcement of the law would be filed in Marion County Circuit Court.

One might imagine a complaint to perform a timely investigation and perhaps another to correct the results of the investigation.  There are still many avenues here, and since I'm currently suing the Secretary over ballot access laws using the same power, she and others must know I know this power of judicial review of election law exists, and that I am willing to use it.

Update #9 11:59am 2013-01-18

I have just received a reply from Trout at the SoS office.

The determination was in Hales' favor, but no explanation for the determination was offered.  Instead, they are "confident" that Multnomah County Elections made the correct decision after communicating with them.

The above "sept27" version of the complaint clearly outlines what kind of investigation would be needed as per case law.  This doesn't meet those requirements, since it's just an affirmation of Tim Scott's "ask them where they think they reside" investigation.

As the complaint noted, that is specifically not an appropriate investigation according to case law.

Further, Trout explains that tax and election law residency or domicile are distinct with no explanation for why he believes in this case that tax and election law would allow him to have two different residences for residency or domicile purposes where he intends to return.  The complaint lays out how the minor differences do not apply in this case.  No explanation is offered to rebut that.

Trout further selectively quotes the law regarding who is in charge of determining registration.  The complaint fully quoted it and specifically noted that the Secretary must as chief elections officer validate registrations in later instances.  The county elections office verifies them in the "first instance".

Despite that selective quoting, Trout then goes on to agree with the county without explanation by stating they are "confident" the process used was correct.  The complaint already laid out why it was incorrect with much detail.  Again, nothing rebutted.

The letter also describes how they refuse to enforce the city charter regarding elections saying city charter and code violations are enforced by the city attorney in the city's name.

But ORS 221.315 relates to prosecutions in court, not elections processes and administration.  The Secretary as chief elections officer should instruct local election officials and county clerks on how to uniformly and accurately interpret their own laws as per actual election law, which was already noted in the complaint.

This matter is whether or not Hales was qualified to run and is qualified to be mayor.  While the complaint alleges a number of allegations of state election law that should be prosecuted, the additional city code and charter violations merely mean Hales would be "vacated" from office upon the determination of ineligibility as per the election law violations, where they clearly do have jurisdiction, also.

In sum, Enforcing the city code and charter would not be a court prosecution but an administrative determination and instruction.

ORS 221.315 clearly doesn't apply.

Despite a thorough complaint, there's no substance to counter it in this new determination letter.  A possible next step is 60 days to appeal the determination in Marion County Circuit Court and/or to compel enforcement.  Details on the exact form of the appeal will come later and will be posted here.

Update #10 11:48pm 2012-03-20

On Monday I filed a law suit with Marion County Circuit Court appealing the above determination letter.  You can read it in detail at the link above and the rest of this post for any other contextual details.

In the suit, I appeal the determination, asking first for a determination order, second asking for a review of the Secretary's order, and third asking for an injunction to order the Secretary to enforce election law as required.

You can donate to cover legal fees here:

Original Text

As you may have found out by now, I have filed a complaint with the Secretary of State, CC'd to local authorities in the City of Portland and Multnomah County Elections, alleging a number of violations of election law.

My Personal Background -- why me?

When I first heard about Charlie Hales's living in Washington and avoiding paying Oregon taxes, it piqued my interest because I'm intimately familiar with election law due to my 2008 run for Secretary of State on the Pacific Green Party ticket and was myself in a similar situation.  In 2006 through my Free Open Source Software connections, I was offered a job I couldn't refuse to work for a Silicon Valley startup on distributed supercomputing hardware.  I moved to Oakland, CA and told my wife that there is no better opportunity than in the Bay Area for people trying to break into the computer industry.  I told her that I planned on developing my resume at a few startups and then moving back.  We rented out our house in Portland that we had recently bought (and reside in now since Labor Day of 2007 when we moved back) and rented small apartments in the Bay Area.  I moved around never really having what I considered a real residence -- never staying in the same place for even a year.  I would come up to Portland and upgrade our house when I had time, including replacing our garage roof on one such trip.

At the time, I was, like Charlie Hales, heavily involved in Oregon politics, having been a leader with the Oregon Pacific Green Party. I looked at the law and determined then that though I intended to return, I didn't have enough legal standing to keep my Oregon registration.  I would be filing taxes in California instead of Oregon -- oh how I wanted to pay taxes in Oregon instead.  I reluctantly registered to vote in California.  I was so excited to be able to vote in Oregon once again in late 2007 and 2008.  I then ran for Secretary of State, having barely been a re-resident of Oregon for a year.  I looked up the qualifications for the office to be sure.

On Charlie Hales

That Charlie Hales continued voting in Oregon for so many years while enriching himself of about $30,000 in avoided Oregon income taxes, depriving Oregon of tax revenues in the process, concerns me as taxpayer who believes in the principle that taxation and representation are linked.  Charlie Hales was *not being taxed* while still *being represented*.  For a candidate to claim a history of fiscal responsibility and accountability while casting votes without having to pay the costs and experience the effects of those votes is not just hypocritical, it is contrary to the philosophical underpinnings of any just theory of taxation.  A just theory, however, is well-encoded into Oregon law in word and in spirit.

When I looked into the problem further, I ran into a major issue -- is Hales even qualified to run?  In my investigation, I came to discover that Hales's knowingly inaccurate voter registration in 2008 meant he wasn't registered to vote at his now-claimed address and so he isn't qualified to run as per the city code and charter.  This is a huge consequence for him.

On the consequences for the city and the state

If Charlie Hales is in fact ineligible, we must know now before we have to call another election and waste more taxpayer dollars, all as a result of the actions of Charlie Hales to avoid paying taxes in Oregon while claiming voting eligibility in Oregon.  I hope the process can move swiftly enough that Charlie Hales can be removed without having to call another election.  The Secretary should have acted sooner to protect Oregon taxpayers and Portland's election processes.

Solving the problem in the future

In addition to placing the legal spotlight on Hales, I think the Secretary of State should send the public record registration data to the Department of Revenue to cross-check against nonresident filers and ensure those who are not paying taxes in Oregon either do not get to influence the elections that all the other taxpayers participate in, or they get the revenue back.  That act alone may allow the state to reclaim millions of dollars in taxes it may be entitled to.  The Department of Revenue could ask each matched filer via a form letter if they would like to re-declare their domicile and if they are claiming temporary exception with no fixed residence, and any other clarifications the state may want to ask to ensure it is getting the revenue it deserves and to ensure the Secretary of State can properly check for election and voter law violations like this in the future.  A little cooperation can go a long way toward saving taxpayer money through preventing evasion-loss.

On the Secretary's and others' inaction versus upholding the law

The integrity of our election system requires that we have predictable, consistent rules and a fair application of those rules.  The current Secretary of State, Kate Brown, published an op-ed in the Oregonian on April 20, 2010 on the issue of voter fraud saying that they take the issue very seriously and note the Class C felony penalties as "perhaps the greatest deterrents" to voter fraud.  She also claimed that "believe me, we'll investigate" allegations of voter fraud in response to a mere phone call with "as many details as possible", not formally filed complaints.

Despite an impressive collection of journalism on the part of the Willamette Week and the Oregonian, the Secretary of State's Director of Elections Trout has indicated that without a formal complaint and hearing, there is not enough evidence to investigate. Apparently a series of phone calls from the media, highly skeptical articles from the established press, and tax law and election law expert weigh-in on the blogosphere and elsewhere isn't enough to start an investigation of a high profile case of voter and election fraud with more major impact than the examples listed in her op-ed.

When I started looking at the laws again to make sure my suspicions were correct, I found that there is a mass of evidence based on easily verified published and public record information that Charlie Hales had committed a series of violations of election law and/or tax law.  The filed complaint lays out that case.  At first I was expecting other people would file the complaint and I wouldn't have to, but as time went on it became clear that the other mayoral candidates had promised to remain "positive" and the traditional community institutions of Oregon and Portland were not inclined to either make the effort to lay out the complete case or were not willing to rock the boat.  Some I consulted had already made donations to a mix of the major opponents and so did not want to get too heavily involved, potentially detracting from their preferred candidate's election with a negative campaign that might propel the third person to the top of the polls.  I had a hard time finding expert attorneys who weren't involved in the mayoral race one way or another (or another) to help vet the issues.

This is all the more reason to implement campaign finance reform like Measure 47 from 2006, which is on the books but not being enforced.  Not only are our politicians corrupted, but conflicts arise from political leaders' unwillingness to participate fully in the process of ensuring law and order -- leaders who I greatly respect, but they feel they must counter money with money.  In this case, money has again acted to suppress speech.

I, too, believe that negative campaigns are not the best thing for a healthy democracy, however, when the rule and the spirit of the law are broken, particularly when it comes to the integrity of our elections and voting processes, consequences must exist for those who would violate that integrity, especially while standing for public office themselves, and also especially when false statements were made in an apparent attempt to avoid taxes.

Seth Woolley

3403 NE Stanton St

Portland, OR 97212


Seth Woolley's Blog

Thu Apr 19 00:40:03 2012 -- Comment Some Media Coverage -- by Seth Woolley

Some Media Coverage

Wed Apr 18 15:25:41 2012 -- Comment Thanks! -- by Thomas Craig


I really appreciate you putting in the time Seth.  Thank you and keep up the good work.

Thomas (grew up @ 38th and Stanton)

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