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Advocacy Group, Oregon Republican Feud Over Health Care Town Hall


Oregon Republican Rep. Julie Parrish alleges an advocacy group has “taken extreme liberties” in her district to schedule a “fake” town hall purportedly in her name.

Our Oregon, the advocacy group organizing the town hall in West Linn for Aug. 1, says they never told people Parrish would attend the town hall. Instead, they say, she was invited to attend and discuss health care issues with her constituents. The group says Parrish declined that invitation.

“Their ‘invite’ came to me in my legislative inbox after they launched a social media campaign around their fake event,” Parrish wrote to OPB in an email. “So no, I had not spoken to them before their launch.”

Parrish represents District 37, which includes West Linn. 

Parrish went on to refer to Our Oregon as “political operatives with a political agenda.”

“They’ve perpetrated this ploy not just in my district, but in several others as well,” she wrote.

Parrish is at the center of an effort to put the brakes on a $670 million health care provider tax to fund Medicaid, an effort Our Oregon has openly opposed. Oregon lawmakers approved that Democrat-backed bill in June.

Earlier this month, Parrish and two GOP representatives filed paperwork to challenge the bill.

Oregon Rep. Julie Parrish, R-West Linn, speaks during a news conference at the state Capitol in Salem in 2013.

Oregon Rep. Julie Parrish, R-West Linn, speaks during a news conference at the state Capitol in Salem in 2013.

Jonathan J. Cooper/AP

Our Oregon argues thousands would lose their health care if Parrish’s attempt to turn over the bill succeeds. They say the purpose of the town halls is to allow constituents to engage in an open dialogue with their representatives.

“These are serious life or death issues,” said Katherine Driessen, communications director for Our Oregon. “The idea here is to give constituents an opportunity to weigh in on health care issues.”

On Facebook, Parrish used Our Oregon’s town hall invitation as an opportunity to highlight her efforts to stop the bill.

“There were three ways (lawmakers) could have kept Medicaid funded, without passing a half-billion in new taxes,” she wrote. “Sadly, ‘Our Oregon’ is all about the status quo.”

As of Thursday, the town hall invitation on Facebook did not indicate Parrish would be in attendance.

Our Oregon has publicly criticized Parrish and other local Republicans in the past for their stance on health care.

The group says they are hosting health care town halls in Bend, Hood River and Jackson County, as well. They say they’ve invited several state representatives to attend those meetings and talk with constituents. 

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