Pamplin Media Group recently published two articles about Lori Chavez-DeRemer, Oregon’s Republican District 5 representative in the U.S. House of Representatives. One was a “My View” column by her and the other was an article from the Oregon Capitol Bureau.
I am writing to comment on how Ms. Chavez-DeRemer gained her position and what she may accomplish.
Chavez-DeRemer won with 51.1% of the votes. There is evidence she obtained substantial assistance from businesses and political action committees (PACs) that are outside Oregon. OpenSecrets.org, a watchdog regarding campaign financing, reported that outside spending included $7,901,735 opposed to Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner, and $1,328,020 in support of Chavez-DeRemer. Outside spending was $1,974,991 opposed to Chavez-DeRemer and $1,113,947 supporting McLeod-Skinner. OpenSecrets listed Chavez-DeRemer’s donors as including: Congressional Leadership Fund, a Republican PAC ($726,928); Healthcare Freedom Super Pac ($68,732); GOP Winning Women-Florida ($41,419); National Association of Realtors ($11,500); and National Pro-Life Alliance ($10,000).
OpenSecrets said that Chavez-DeRemer used $416,903 of self-financing on her campaign. Her federal Financial Disclosure Report indicates that she is wealthy. There is a question whether her wealth will influence her in representing the interests of ordinary Oregonians.
The public should be aware of the possible impact that outside money has had on Chavez-DeRemer’s election. In 2016 and 2018, she was unsuccessful in attempts to win a seat in the Oregon House of Representatives in her home district. She probably received minimal out-of-state money then and she was in campaigns where voters likely knew her better.
The recent articles do not disclose much about Chavez-DeRemer’s voting record except that she has been “voting with the GOP on recent controversial issues.” My research indicates she has co-sponsored two bills to “guard” gas stoves (including one titled “Stop Trying to Obsessively Vilify Energy Act”). She has supported a Republican effort to seek rescission of an EPA and Army Corps of Engineer’s rule regarding the definition of U.S. waters that is meant to restore the health of waterways. The public should learn about her legislative efforts and how she is voting, and inform her about their positions on those topics. The proposed legislation on stoves is unnecessary because there is no effort to ban them, but only to improve their efficiency and public health. Most Oregonians want to protect public health and the environment.
An OPB story pre-election quoted Chavez-DeRemer saying, regarding compromising across the aisle, “I don’t know about the word compromise. You can’t compromise the Oregon Fifth’s voice.” However, the district is composed of individuals, and many favor reasonable compromise. In her “My View” article, Chavez-DeRemer said “Oregonians … want to see less partisanship” which is true. However, she was vague and provided no evidence she has co-sponsored any bills sought by Democrats or voted in favor of any such bills.
The question is whether she will work more for Oregon citizens or more for business and Republican interests. She asserts she will work on major objectives, including the fentanyl crisis, Oregon manufacturing, building infrastructure (using money provided by Biden’s infrastructure bill), deterring Chinese threats, and helping veterans. I urge her constituents to watch what Representative Chavez-DeRemer does and whether she focuses on important legislation that will help Oregon.
Happy Valley resident Catherine Lazuran is a retired attorney and federal employee.