Organic Consumers Association

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Minority Groups Backing Fluoride Were Paid $143,000

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Politics and Democracy Page, Food Safety Research Center Page and our Fluoride: The Hidden Poison Page.

The campaign advocating fluoridation of Portland's drinking water has trumpeted the support it's received from minority organizations, ranging from the Urban League of Portland to the Latino Network.

This widespread support, backers say, shows just how important fluoridation is to the constituents of these groups.

And the support flows the other way, too: in the form of big cash paid to groups who have endorsed the pro-fluoride campaign, Healthy Kids, Healthy Portland.

As first reported at, Healthy Kids, Healthy Portland has doled out at least $143,000-about a third of what it has spent so far-to seven organizations that favor  the May 21 referendum to fluoridate the city's drinking water, Measure 26-151.

The move is highly unorthodox for a political campaign: Typically, groups that endorse a measure contribute money, not receive it.

Oregon's free-wheeling campaign-finance laws place virtually no limits on how campaigns spend their money. But the state's undue-influence law prohibits campaigns from paying individuals or organizations in exchange for their political support.

Dan Meek, a public-interest lawyer active in campaign-finance reform, says it is unusual for groups to endorse a campaign and then receive money from that campaign. "This is a new approach," he says.

Healthy Kids, Healthy Portland says the payments were intended to help the organizations promote Measure 26-151, and were not given in exchange for the groups' support of the pro-fluoride effort.

"Fluoride and dental health are really important to low-income communities and communities of color," says Healthy Kids, Health Portland campaign manager Evyn Mitchell.  "We are trying to provide capacity to the groups that will do the outreach."

Mitchell says the groups that got money were active supporters of fluoridation for more than a year before the campaign began.   
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