Walt Brown

Portland Observer writes about Walt Brown

One of the quieter races this electoral season has been that of Oregon treasurer. Former Multnomah County Chair Ted Wheeler seems to be in a good place to keep the position, which he was appointed to last spring when Ben Westlund passed away.

However, one man continues a long crusade to bring attention to some issues and solutions that are commonly-overlooked.

Walt Brown – a retired Lake Oswego attorney, who represented the area in the state Senate from 1975 to 1987 and has made third party bids for attorney general, Congress and president- is making a go at the office that oversees the state’s finances, and is hoping to bring up several ideas (some of which he admits are outside the purview of the office he’s pursuing) that he says will improve Oregon’s economy.

State bank

Brown wants the creation of a state bank to get capital and lending flowing in the state, which will help combat Oregon’s chronically high unemployment rate. He said that a state bank would work with private banks to help co-invest and keep interest rates low.

He points to North Dakota, which has a state bank and a relatively healthy economy, as an example of how such an entity can be a stabilizing influence.

However, the idea faces one big hurdle: Oregon’s constitution prohibits the creation of a state bank.

“That would be a problem,” admits Brown. “But all problems that are legal can be solved simply by amending the constitution. Of course, you don’t want to amend the constitution in a stupid way, which we’ve done from time to time.”

Health care reform

Brown said that the cost of providing health insurance to employees is hurting businesses, and the health care cost to state workers is also hurting Oregon’s finances.

He has been a longtime advocate for single-payer health insurance, which he said will be good for the state and good for business by shifting the cost of increasingly expensive health insurance premiums.

“The state could really save money if they set up their own health insurance,” he said.

Public power

Brown argues that Washington state is faring better economically because businesses have fewer costs under publicly-owned utilities, unlike much of Oregon, which he hopes to change.

Invest in Oregon

Brown said that if elected treasurer he would stop directing the state’s investments outside of Oregon, even if they bring in a lower return, a stance that he said distinguishes him from Wheeler. He would also push to have every layer of state and local government buy locally.

“There’s a multiplier effect of increasing jobs,” said Brown of his approach.

Investing money back into the state’s economy will pay off in the long run, he said.

Salem Statesman-Journal Writes about Walt Brown

Minor-party candidates for treasurer see opportunity to change course

by Peter Wong
October 13, 2010

Walt Brown was a Democratic state senator from Lake Oswego from 1975 to 1987, but he's running as the Progressive Party nominee for state treasurer.

Since he left the Senate, Brown has been the Socialist Party nominee for Congress in four elections, the Socialist Party USA candidate for president in 2004, and the Pacific Green Party nominee for attorney general in 2008. He said the treasurer is an independent official who should not be the financial adviser to governors and legislators. But he also said the treasurer has a role to play in Oregon's economy, particularly in trying to reduce the current unemployment rate. "We've got to turn that around," he said. He is an advocate of a state-owned bank, based on the only other such bank in North Dakota. Voters would have to remove a constitutional ban on a state bank that dates to statehood 151 years ago.

Michael Marsh of Salem, a maintenance worker at McDonald's, was the Constitution Party nominee for state treasurer in 2008. (There is another Mike Marsh in Salem, who is unrelated, a former state official who is a contributing assistant professor at the Atkinson Graduate School of Management at Willamette University.) He said he would block issuance of any new state debt, and that he is running to make a point not only about Oregon's finances but also the nation's. "The United States government is self-destructive, and I'd like the chance to turn things around," he said.

Walt Brown Debates Democratic Candidate

Election 2010 The voting party: Oregon state treasurer

More than 125 people packed into the ballroom at Chinook Winds Casino Resort on Sunday, Oct. 10, to grill candidates seeking office in the Nov. 2 elections. The News Guard reporter Patrick Alexander was there.

Posted: Tuesday, October 12, 2010 2:28 pm


Of the four candidates seeking the job of looking after the state's $68 billion investment portfolio, only two attended the forum - incumbent Democrat Ted Wheeler and challenger Walt Brown from the Progressive Party.

Wheeler was appointed to the post six months ago following the death of fellow Democrat Ben Westlund.

He said the treasurer must provide financial leadership for the state, laying the foundation for economic growth and helping the state "get its financial house in order" as legislators brace for another round of budget cuts.

Wheeler, who came to office amid a scandal about the luxurious travel habits of state investment officers under previous treasurers, said he took swift action to tackle the problem - reforming controls and requesting an outside audit of the agency.

"I ended first-class travel," he said. "I ended golf."

Wheeler said treasurers' offices across the country have asked for the results of the reforms implemented in Oregon.

Brown said Oregon has a long history of economic woes that predates any of the state's incumbent officeholders.

"In the last 30 years," he said, "we have had above-average unemployment for 25 of them."

Brown said Oregon could learn from other states, such as North Dakota, which has the only state-run bank in the U.S.

Brown noted North Dakota has the lowest unemployment rate in the nation - just 4 percent in March 2010 compared to the average 9.1 percent.

He said the treasurer's office should put more of the state's $68 billion investments to work in Oregon rather than further afield.

"I don't want to sound like a raging nationalist," he said, "but we can't build Oregon by investing in New Jersey and China."

Republican candidate Chris Telfer and Constitution Party candidate Michael Marsh are also on the ballot for the position.

© Copyright 2010, The News Guard, Lincoln City, OR.

Walt Brown Debates at Eugene City Club

Candidates For Oregon Treasurer Speak At City Club Of Eugene
October 1, 2010
By Angela Kellner, KLCC Radio

The 3 candidates running for Oregon Treasurer spoke at the City Club of Eugene Friday. Each was asked how they would approach the job. Walter Brown, with the Progressive Party, served in the Oregon Senate from 1975 to 1987. He's also a veteran and attorney.

Walter Brown: "The Treasurer's Office is on the front lines of what's happening on Wall Street and elsewhere. And it's a good thing for the Treasurer to be on top of the current economy which way it's going and why it's going there and see if we can invest more in Oregon."

The current Treasurer, Ted Wheeler, was appointed to the position earlier this year when Ben Westlund passed away. Wheeler is the former Chair of Multnomah County.

Ted Wheeler: "I want to help the Legislature find ways to actually improve our financial footing. For example, I'll be introducing legislation that will allow us to protect interest on the general fund and go into a rainy day fund. It doesn't cost taxpayers anything else and it doesn't take money out of existing programs."

State Representative Chris Telfer has been a certified public accountant for nearly 30 years and owns a CPA firm.

Chris Telfer: "The job of the Treasurer as the chief financial officer of the state is to provide financial strategies, planning and analyzation of trends and the current situations and moving forward. You know, as a CPA, that's exactly what we're trained to do."

The City Club of Eugene airs Monday night at 6:30 on KLCC. Note: The podcast, when ready, will be here: http://www.klcc.org/audio/cityclub2010_10_01.mp3

Walt Brown for State Treasurer -- Events

Salem City Club Debate of Candidates for State Treasurer

October 8, 2010     11:30 a.m. luncheon     Noon debate starts

Mission Mill Museum
1313 Mill St. SE, Salem

Reservations are required by noon Tuesday, Sept. 5; call (503) 370-2808 or e-mail rsvp@salemcityclub.com.

Cost is $12 for members, $15 for others; there is a $5 charge for those who attend the program but do not eat lunch.

Candidates are Walt Brown (Progressive), Ted Wheeler (Democratic), Chris Telfer (Republican), Michael Marsh (Constitution).

Walt Brown for State Treasurer -- Voter's Pamphlet Statement


Volunteer attorney, Consumer Justice Alliance, Oregon Consumer League. Received Oregon State Bar Award for the Highest Level of Pro-Bono Service for "TOTAL HOURS OF PRO-BONO SERVICES" and "LEGAL SERVICES TO THE POOR" (3/4/04).


Commander JAGC U.S. Navy (Ret.)(1944-70); volunteer WWll, Korea, Vietnam; public defender, prosecutor, attorney for disabled servicemen. Lewis & Clark Law School (1970-80) taught Consumer Law, Legal Ethics. Malheur County Counsel, Deputy D.A. (1989-91). Tree Farmer (1987-2007)(donated to Lincoln County, for all Oregonians, his reforested 185-acre farm on the Siletz River as a no-hunting, no-logging, nature park).

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