COOS BAY – A $10,000 loan was paid to the Coos Bay BEST Bond.
Coos Bay School Board member and BEST Bond Committee Chairman James Martin made the personal loan to the bond campaign on Oct. 23. According to the Oregon Secretary of State’s election office, the donation type is “loan received,” which means that Martin has the option to either have the money repaid or forgiven,. If forgiving, that would make it a political donation.
“I made this loan because the campaign had bills due for advertising and I knew we had other donations coming in,” Martin told The World. “Not surprisingly advertisers don’t extend credit to campaigns, so you pay upfront for radio and TV time, so this loan just helps with our cash flow and gets us through the end of our fundraising.”
The World spoke with the Oregon Government Ethics Commission and discovered that Martin’s loan is not only legal, but not a conflict of interest. Being a school board member is an unpaid volunteer position, meaning he gets nothing out of making the loan.
When the loan is repaid, it will be out of the campaign coffers and not from the school district. If the bond is passed on Nov. 7, none of that money will be used to repay the loan either because it is illegal to use bond funds for anything other than the purpose approved by voters.
“We’ll look at our campaign balance after Election Day when our bills are paid,” Martin said. “However much is left will pay the loan back. If it pays it back in full, that’s fine. If there’s a surplus, there’s things PACs can do with extra funds just like Save Coos Jobs had money left over from last spring and gave some to us. If we’re short, it will just be a donation on my part.”