Raking the muck

Over the summer, I wrote a little about Eddy Binford-Ross, editor-in-chief of the Clypian, the student newspaper at South Salem High School. She did a remarkable job covering last summer's demonstrations in Portland. This was back when the protests were about George Floyd and Donald Trump, and not the meaningless, nihilistic lashing-out that occupies the Portland streets these days. Binford-Ross was on the scene every night, for many weeks, and her reports were informative and even-handed.

I had lost track of Binford-Ross since then, but the other day, via Twitter, I came across this hard-hitting story, in which she turns over a bunch of rocks around the public school board in our state capital city. And whoa Nellie, are there ever some interesting creatures squirming around under there.

Publicly available election disclosures reveal that Oregon Right to Life and its cabal of PACs have given almost $39,000 to the campaigns of current directors in the last two Salem-Keizer School Board elections alone. This makes them the biggest single funder of current members of the board, through cash contributions and in-kind donations....

Salem-Keizer School Board members who received those funds, in turn, collectively have paid tens of thousands of dollars to private companies owned by political insiders, including Reagan Knopp, the current political director of Oregon Right to Life. 

Board Chair [Satya] Chandragiri paid $25,788 to Knopp & Company LLC, a political consulting firm founded by Reagan Knopp, son of State Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend), starting in March 2019. Days later, $11,482 in in-kind donations are reported on Chandragiri’s campaign finance record from Oregon Right to Life and Oregon Right to Life PAC. Chandragiri went on to win his school board seat in May 2019 by 1624 votes....

Notably, [board member Marty] Heyen has discussed and been seen in photos with members of the Three Percenters. The Anti-Defamation League defines the Three Percenters as a “right-wing,” “extremist” militia. The movement has anti-immigrant, anti-muslim, and anti-leftist sentiments. 

An image from a joint campaign event for Chandragiri and Heyen shows her husband posing with known members of alt-right, militia groups and the Proud Boys. Among those present is Angela Roman, who is affiliated with the Three Percenters and was a major player in right-wing events that turned violent in the summer and fall of 2020. A person in the image is also seen making a “white power” hand gesture.


Go get 'em, Eddy Binford-Ross. Go get 'em.