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Backlash grows as local leaders call out Knute Buehler for alignment with designated hate group

Wed, 09/12/2018 - 21:00

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Buehler was officially endorsed by the hate group OFIR in 2012, routinely supported their agenda as a legislator - now OFIR is publicly praising his bid for Governor

During a press conference call this afternoon, Nancy Haque, executive director of Basic Rights Oregon, denounced Knute Buehler for embracing the same right-wing agenda promoted by a designated hate group, and praised Governor Kate Brown as a champion for equality and racial justice.

Yesterday, Buehler claimed he would reject the endorsement of the hate group Oregonians for Immigration Reform (OFIR) if it were offered. But he was officially endorsed by OFIR in his failed 2012 bid for Secretary of State. Since then, Buehler has rubber stamped the hate group’s right wing agenda in the legislature, and OFIR has publicly praised his bid for Governor.

“Based on my personal experiences as a woman of color and as the leader of Basic Rights Oregon, I know first-hand how dangerous organizations like OFIR are,” said Haque. “We know that hate groups and white nationalists are more emboldened than ever -- that’s why we need a true champion for equality in the Governor’s Office, and that champion is undoubtedly Kate Brown.”

OFIR is a Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group with ties to a prominent white-nationalist eugenics advocate. In a news segment on Oregon Public Broadcasting late last week, Cynthia Kendoll, president of the OFIR, doubled down on her organization’s support of Republican Knute Buehler. In August, OFIR’s official Facebook page shared a blog post supporting Knute Buehler and stated, “Oregonians are ready for a Governor that will put citizens first!”

“It’s not surprising that an anti-immigrant hate group supports Knute Buehler because Buehler has embraced the same right-wing agenda that they promote in the legislature and on the ballot,” said Christian Gaston, communications director for Governor Kate Brown’s campaign. “Once again, Buehler is demonstrating that he doesn't share Oregonians' values - and voters can’t trust him. Not on women's rights, not on health care, and not on making Oregon a welcoming state for all.”

The list of organizations that are calling out an undeniable - and disturbing - alignment between the hate group OFIR and candidate Knute Buehler now includes: Basic Rights Oregon, NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon PAC, Democratic Party of Oregon, Planned Parenthood PAC of Oregon, Oregon League of Conservation Voters, Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN), SEIU Local 503, Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO), and The Mother PAC.

Buehler has been aligned with the hate group on a long list of issues, including:

  • In 2015, Buehler opposed automatic voter registration. Buehler voted no on HB 2177, the Motor Voter law, calling it “government coercion.” OFIR opposed HB 2177, warning “this bill makes voting by illegal aliens much more likely.” [Oregon State Legislature HB 2177, 2/20/15; OFIR website]

  • Buehler supports Measure 105, an initiative backed by OFIR to throw out Oregon’s anti-racial profiling law. [OPB, 9/6/2018]

  • In January 2018, Buehler opposed Measure 101, which OFIR also opposed. [Central Oregon Daily News, 1/18/18; OFIR letter, 1/7/18]

  • In 2017, Buehler voted against Cover All Kids, which OFIR also opposed. [Oregon House Health Care Committee vote on SB 558, 3/8/17; OFIR Blog, 4/3/2017]

  • In 2015, Buehler voted against tuition equity for Dreamers. During the 2013 legislative session, the legislature granted tuition equity to first-generation students who graduated from Oregon schools but were unable to prove legal residency. Buehler voted no on SB 932, which allows these students to apply for and receive Oregon Opportunity Grant funding. OFIR also opposed this bill. [Oregon House Floor Vote, SB 932, 7/2/15; OFIR website]

  • In 2018, Buehler voted to make Oregon Dreamers pay out-of-state tuition at public universities, and to deny them scholarships and financial aid. Katherine Stone, an OFIR volunteer, submitted testimony against the bill. [Oregon House Floor Vote, SB 1563, 3/3/18; Katherine Stone testimony, 2/10/2018]

Buehler has also personally donated $1,500 to the vice-president of OFIR, Rep. Mike Nearman. The revelation about Nearman’s deep ties to OFIR - which gained national attention in the Daily Beast this week - is the latest link between white-nationalist and anti-immigrant groups to Republican officeholders around the country.