Washington County District Attorney race heats up over campaign funding

Washington County Courthouse - KATU file image

Washington County District Attorney Bob Herman decided not to seek reelection after nearly 20 years in office, opening the door for someone else to step into the role.

There are two contenders seeking the position - Kevin Barton and Max Wall.

Herman has endorsed Barton, an assistant district attorney with Washington County, to take his place.

Wall is a former Polk County prosecutor and Beaverton criminal defense attorney.

Barton believes voters have a clear choice, telling KATU News “there are big differences between my opponent and me."

Wall and Barton differ on punishment versus treatment for offenders.

But one of the bigger issues in the campaign has been campaign contributions.

Most of Max Wall's money comes from The Oregon Law and Justice PAC, totaling nearly $300,000.

That group is funded by the Washington D.C. Law and Justice PAC, which in turn is backed by billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros, who supports reforming the U.S. justice system.

Wall answered a question about that money during the March 19 Washington County Public Affairs forum.

“As far as the rumors about money and billionaires, I can tell you that I haven't been promised dollar one by anyone,” said Wall.

“He knew when he said it that those were not accurate statements,” said Barton, “and you just cannot have a district attorney who's not open and transparent about any issue put in front of him.”

Soros has taken heat recently for similar candidate campaign funding in district attorney races in Denver as well as Philadelphia.

Wednesday on Facebook live, Oregonian reporter Noelle Crombie pressed Wall on the funding issue.

“It's just a yes or no. Have you received money from groups affiliated with Mister Soros or Mister Soros himself?" asked Crombie.

Wall responded, “Law & Justice PAC is a national organization.”

“He's probably been told not to answer that question,” Barton interjected, “Answer the question.”

“I am,” said Wall, “It's a national organization.”

Barton admits getting big money from backers like Phil Knight plus a conservative Political Action Committee.

But Barton adds he's open about where his money is coming from, while Wall is not.

“They key difference here is one of experience, one of community trust, and one of openness and transparency,” said Barton.

KATU News reached out to Wall’s campaign, and they said he was unavailable for an interview Thursday.

Washington county voters will decide Tuesday who will be the next Washington County District Attorney.

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