Fluoride Action Network

Portland: Pro-fluoride campaign scores massive donation

Source: The Oregonian | April 17th, 2013 | By Ryan Kost

Healthy Kids, Healthy Portland, the group pushing Portlanders to approve a plan to fluoridate the city’s water this May, has a received a massive donation pushing it far ahead of the opposing campaign, Clean Water Portland.

State campaign finance records show that the Northwest Health Foundation made a $165,920 donation to the pro-fluoridation campaign. That single donation far outpaces any other single donation thus far. It also eclipses the total amount raised by the anti-fluoridation campaign, which comes in at $111,026.

“On a personal level, my reaction was definitely excitement,” said Healthy Kids, Healthy Portland campaign manager Evyn Mitchell. “We’d been talking to Northwest a ton. They’re heavily involved in our committee and our coalition … it’s a tremendous investment and one that we’re incredibly honored to have.”

The Northwest Health Foundation bills itself online as a “nonprofit foundation that seeks to advance, support, and promote the health of the people of Oregon and southwest Washington.”

Nichole Maher, the foundation’s president, said the fluoridation effort was a nice compliment to the group’s focus on efforts that are preventative in nature.

“Frankly, for us, it’s the most significant thing we could do to improve health outcomes in this region,” Maher said. “We wish we could have given more.”

The pro-fluoridation camp has seen its fair share of high-dollar contributions. Six donors, including the Northwest Health Foundation, have raised $380,000 of the group’s $460,000 total haul. The other donors in that group include the Oregon Dental Association, CareOregon, FamilyCare, Inc., Dentists of Oregon, Kaiser Permanente, and The Dental Foundation of Oregon.

Meanwhile, Clean Water Portland, the group hoping to persuade Portlanders to reject fluoridation, is facing an uphill battle in terms of fundraising efforts. Their largest donations are a pair of $10,000 contributions from one family.

In terms of cash on hand, Healthy Kids, Healthy Portland is currently reporting a balance of $130,000 while Clean Water Portland says it has $45,000.

Mitchell says so far much of their spending has gone toward staff, internet outreach and grassroots organizing, including grants for community-based organizations.

Those grants, which are being dispersed in chunks of $20,000, are going to groups that represent various communities of color. The idea being, Mitchell said, that those groups are best positioned to do outreach to low-income folks as well as minority communities.

She said Portlanders can expect more traditional paid media — television and radio ads, for instance — as the campaign heads into its final month.

The election is set for May 21.