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Weidner gets last minute windfall

Nov 1, 2012


By Nathalie Hardy
Of the News-Register


A last minute check of campaign finance reports reveals little action, with one curious exception. Rep. Jim Weidner's campaign received a last minute surge of donations totaling nearly $11,000.

At first glance it appeared that 25 out-of-state donors contributed $200 each to his campaign. Actually it was all from the same person in Irvine, California: Brian Fitterer, owner of mobile home parks throughout the Northwest. 

Weidner is far from alone in receiving these donations. Fitterer gave nearly identical donations to eight Republican Oregon state legislature candidates in districts where he owns mobile home parks.

In addition to Weidner, bundles of $200 checks were received by incumbents Sen. Brian Boquist, Rep. Mike McLane, Rep. John Huffman, Rep. Gene Whisnant,  Julie Parrish, Katie Eyre and by Grants Pass candidate for State Senator Herman Baertschiger.

Fitterer is also known for contributing to mobile home political action committees, including the Oregon-based Park PAC which contributes to campaigns on both sides of the aisle. 

The Park PAC states reasons to support it on its website including having "a history of picking winning legislators" and "focusing on key lawmakers who shape the issues affecting our industry." 

Some of the accomplishments listed by the PAC for the 2011 legislative session include:

- Defeating HB 2172: Established rent control with mandatory mediation and the addition of regulatory enforcement regime that required the involvement of the Oregon Attorney General to enforce landlord-tenant law in your manufactured home community.

- Defeaing HB 3183: Allowed local governments to establish rent control. Eliminated ban on local governments imposing rent control.

- Passed SB 294 Landlord-Tenant Coalition Bill. Clarified process for manufactured home communities to sub0meter water. Preserved the right of community owners to sub-meter water voluntarily. 

Weidner said that he has worked with those representing mobile home parks but said he also works to see the big picture.

"Most people see me as fair to both sides," he said adding that he works at balancing the need to both protect consumers and to be fair to businesses.

"I can honestly say getting money from someone doesn't sway my vote," Weidner said. He said people have given him a lot of money in the past and he's voted against them "when it was the right thing to do to move Oregon forward."

Fitterer did not respond to questions but Weidner said it was possible the contribution totaling $5,000 came in multiple donations of $200 each in lieu of Fitterer having to create a political action committee.

Weidner said the stack of checks from the same address, same bank in the same amount raised a red flag, causing himself and his staff to confirm the company was legitimate.

It is, in fact a legitimate business ran by Brian Fritterer registered in Irvine California. Fritterer also owns a swimwear company, Kandy Wrappers, the company that designed the swimwear for the 2011 Miss. USA Pageant. 

In addition to the contributions from Fitterer, Weidner most recently reported receiving the following: $2,500 from Oregon Loggers PAC, $1,000 from Peggy Boquist, $500 from Schnitzer Steel Industries and Altria (Philip Morris parent company), $250 from Chevron Policy Government and Public Affairs, AT&T and  Oregon Farm Bureau PAC.

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