Former OSPIRG Board Chair Charles Denson may have contributed to Ben and Katie campaign

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Posted by Emily Schiola on Tuesday, Apr. 3 at 5:00 am.

Former OSPIRG Board Chair Charles Denson allegedly donated $673 to the Ben and Katie campaign last year, but former campaign manager Sophie Luthin alleges steps were taken to conceal Denson’s name.

According to Luthin, Denson wrote two checks to her that, apart from inside jokes in the memo line, were not affiliated directly with the campaign. She then wrote the official check, which was placed in the final budget. Luthin explained that she was told Denson didn’t want his name on the contributions form and that it wouldn’t be a big deal.

At the time, Denson had already been married the vice presidential-candidate Katie Taylor for two years and was still working for OSPIRG.

As stated in the Green Tape Notebook, “Serious Violations shall include, but are not limited to … submitting false or incomplete information on any official forms required by the ASUO Elections Board, including but not limited to financial disclosure forms.”

This means that a failure to disclose where the checks came from in the official budget could result in serious consequences.

Denson explained that he was not aware his money would be going toward the campaign, but instead giving a personal check to Luthin.

“I made a personal contribution to Sophie as a private citizen,” he said.

ASUO President Ben Eckstein knew about the checks but believes everything was above board.

“People in public positions often want to have some measure of privacy in their lives,” he said. “They try to do that in ways that are legal and fully within their rights. That is exactly what happened.”

Luthin, who is now currently the campaign manager for the Ben and Lamar campaign, explained that she has always supported OSPIRG and feels like this violates the integrity of the group.

“One of the core values of the organization is creating a more transparent, accountable government,” Luthin said. “For Charles to participate in this kind of campaign practice goes against (those) values.”

Taylor explained that she didn’t know Denson had made any contributions to the campaign and was surprised at the news.

“I did my own fundraising and this is news to me,” she said.

Upon hearing this, former ASUO President Sam Dotters-Katz was disappointed.

“Charles was the chair of the board of directors of a corporation, and allegedly, secretly contributed hundreds of dollars to get his wife Katie Taylor elected.” he said. “For his wife to then give his corporation a 97 percent funding increase of almost $200,000, is a perfect example of the filthy reality of corporate money destroying the democratic process in this country.”

Eckstein disagreed and was concerned people were not focusing on the importance of the ASUO elections.

“I am disappointed that my two former campaign managers would use this as political fodder,” Eckstein said. “My campaign spoke directly to issues impacting students’ lives. I can tell you first hand, this is not an issue impacting student lives.”

Luthin also highlighted the importance of election week and that this issue directly applies.

“I am bringing this to the attention of the student body because the same people who orchestrated this last year are involved in elections again,” Luthin said. “I want students to know the truth.”



  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=11502981 Sam Dotters-Katz

    I approached President Eckstein and asked him about the this before I gave my comment for this article, and he fully denied that any checks ever existed. Now he comes clean, but is saying this is an issue that doesn’t impact students or that they don’t care about.

    Eckstein, students care about having a President who doesn’t lie to them, and who operates with transparency and integrity. If you had any, perhaps you would understand that.

  • Guest

    so. sick. of hearing about this kind of thing.

    can we talk about real issues?

    • Michael Orman, esq.

       Corruption is a real issue. Stop being a tool of the OSPIRG buttporkers.

      • Guest

         What is a buttporker?

  • Honored Guest

    “I am bringing this to the attention of the student body because the same people who orchestrated this last year are involved in elections again,” Luthin said. “I want students to know the truth.”  
    Meaning… her?!  She herself?!  This is “Etch-a-sketch” level campaign-staff-gaff.

  • NGA

    Do I understand this?  Luthin, who knew or should have known the deceitful (if not unlawful), activity she was engaged in now wants to claim clean hands and the moral high ground? And we are supposed to support the current campaign she is with? UO has the most embarrassing student gov. The constitution needs to be amended and the I-fee distributed by each student on a voucher basis (but hopefully die all together).

    • Anonymous

       Or, vote for the only ethical option this election: Laura & Nick and We Are Oregon

      • Anonymous

        Ethical? Laura and Nick are receiving funding from an outside corporate source….

        • Brudin

           How about you state your name and be accountable for your allegations. What outside corporate source?

  • Guest

    It’s news to Katie that her own husband made contributions to her own campaign?  Pathetic. Your marriage is a joke, how is gay marriage illegal when idiots like her and Denson can get married to jump through tax loopholes?

    • DS

      Boom. Hit the nail on the head.

  • msugerman

    This doesn’t surprise me one bit.. That campaign was full of illegal and immoral activity from the get go. And while I hold no personal grudges against anyone involved, I find it very disappointing that our student leaders would participate in shady dealings such as this one, and I find it even more ridiculous that two of the presidential candidates for this year were directly involved with this campaign. I hope the students don’t make the same mistake again. 

  • Brudin

    I hate quoting Mike Huckabee, but he said it best, “If a man’s dishonest to obtain a job, he’ll be dishonest on the job.”

  • guest

    And the same peeps vote for obama. Figure that one out.

    • Tom

      ಠ_ಠ

      Obvious troll is obvious.

  • UO Students

    THIS ARTICLE IS FUCKING BULLSHIT!

    I CAN’T TAKE YOU SERIOUSLY EMILY WHEN YOU HAVE SO MANY SPELLING ERRORS.

    Let me know when you decide to be a writer and report on REAL NEWS. 

    THANKS FOR WASTING MY TIME.

  • Laura- a concerned student

    Ben Eckstein is a president that does indeed
    serve the students. I am appalled after reading this article. If transparency
    is the issue, why are we not focusing on the lack of transparency within the
    Athletics budget? I would like to see consistency when people are attacking
    others. I am saying this directly in response to Sam Katz’s comment.

     

    I would also like to point out the fact that
    Luthin is on an opposing campaign. Could her position be playing a part in the
    timing of the release of this information? How is this not “a filthy reality”
    of dirty politics? 

    • Brudin

       of course it is playing a role. Though this is the first time I’ve ever seen someone cut off his/her neck to spite another campaign

    • NGA

       It’s always easy to point to another bad act to justify
      one’s own. Unfortunately for you, Laura, transparency is not the issue –
      corruption is. The distinction is important and you should learn it.

  • LaRon Lubbard

    Big surprise. Denson’s been shady for ages. This whole thing stinks to high hell.

  • Anonymous

    the people who are the worst off right now are the people who value what the Emerald has to say. 

  • Concerned Student

    This is so sad. I started working on the B & K campaign last year, and so many things just seemed so shady to me and made no sense. Their campaign manager (who is now running for office himself) encouraged me to do things I thought was breaking the rules and he tried to convince me otherwise. I’m glad I got outta there! I just don’t understand how Sophie coming clean helps their B & L campaign though, if she was shady once, what’s to say she won’t do it again?

    • DieHardDuck

      And the campaign manager you are referring to: Ben Bowman. I worked on the campaign as well and felt the exact same way. Shady tactics that made me switch sides two days into the election. 

  • Kevin McNaught

    Upon reading this news story on how Ben
    Eckstein concealed the source of campaign contributions (read: financial fraud)
    from the contentious group OSPIRG, I was appalled. The revelation rattled my
    faith in our student government. I knew scandals of this sort are to be expected
    in our large Federal government, but seeing this occur amongst my fellow
    students was shocking. I guess I have been naively assuming that our student
    government reflected the best of our student body: principled and passionate
    idealists.

     

    Rather, this recent money-laundering debacle accentuates
    that our student officials can be bought, and cheaply. Eckstein gave the green
    light on a $200,000 increase in OSPIRG’s budget, taken from our student funds,
    for a measly $673 campaign contribution. I’m no business major, but I think a
    29,617% return on an investment seems pretty good. (Hats off to you, OSPIRG!)

     

    What I personally take away from this whole situation is
    that OSPIRG needs to go. Whether you think that the student funds that OSPIRG
    receives is being put to good use (hint: it isn’t) or not, you need to realize
    the reality of their malicious and undue influence on our student government.

     

    I have loved my time at the University of Oregon and I’d
    hate to see it be transformed into the University of OSPIRG.

     

    Concerned student,

     

    Kevin McNaught

  • Phickson

    Who is it at the Emerald that has such a vendetta against Denson and Taylor? Or is it a vendetta against OSPIRG? Or is it merely an attempt to replicate the kind of faux scandal the tabloids and Fox News are always trying to promote? Every few weeks there is an attempt to drag these progressive leaders ( Ben, Taylor and/or Denson) through the mud for dubious reasons at best. As a bystander – it’s appears spiteful and well… ridiculous.

    • Anonymous

      spot-on. someone held up the Emerald this week and said, “what the Emerald thinks passes for muck-raking journalism is embarrassing.”

      this publication needs to start billing itself as the gossip rag it really is. “pitiful and ridiculous,” to be sure…. the only thing the Emerald has done that’s more pathetic than its regular style of journalism is endorsing the WE ARE OREGON AND WE DON’T CARE (about anything more important than football and a concert) ticket.

  • GordonL

    EMILY SCHIOLA:

     IF YOU WANT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY AS A JOURNALIST YOU SHOULD START BEING ONE AND NOT PROVING HOW INCOMPETENT YOU ARE BY PERPETUATING FAKE SCANDALS ABOUT CONFLICT OF INTEREST AND FAILING TO REPORT WHEN CON COURT RULES YOU’VE BEEN FULL OF SHIT THE WHOLE TIME. YOU’RE TRYING TO FILL ROCKNE’S SHOES WITH POORLY WRITTEN BIASED TRASH TALK AND WILL HAVE NO HOPE OF A RESPECTABLE CAREER IF YOU KEEP IT UP.

    FRANKLIN BAINS WAS A BETTER ASUO CORRESPONDENT THAN YOU.

     THAT BS PIECE HE WROTE ABOUT SINJIN WAS BETTER THAN THIS STUFF.

     YOU HAVE FAILED MISERABLY AND WE ALL HAVE PUBLICLY ACCESSIBLE ARCHIVES OF YOUR INCOMPETENCE.