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By Jim Kouri
Posted 1:00 AM Eastern
April 8, 2008

When Josephine County, Oregon, Commissioner Jim Raffenburg celebrated his election victory, little did he know he'd end up experiencing a political firestorm right out of a Frank Capra movie.

Commissioner Raffenburg -- who supporters say approaches his job as an advocate for the people he serves rather than for political insiders seeking power -- is under attack not only by political enemies but also by a newspaper that purportedly is in the hip pockets of the county's political bosses. In fact, his political enemies are pushing for a recall vote in order to shut him up and remove him from office. And the newspaper -- the Daily Courier -- is providing a platform for their accusations.

"I've seen this sort of persecution time and time again: an honest public servant is singled out by politicians -- and their news media lapdogs -- for destruction because he would dare put the interests of citizens ahead of the interests of power hungry politicos," said political strategist Mike Baker, who's conducting an independent investigation into what he terms "the Raffenburg persecution by the political machine."

According to a story appearing in the Daily Courier, a newspaper based in Grants Pass, OR, a petition to recall Josephine County Commissioner Jim Raffenburg was filed in the Clerk's Office last Tuesday. The chief petitioners are former state Rep. Cherryl Walker of Murphy, OR and Ann Bauer of Grants Pass. However, insiders have said the real backers for Raffenburg's recall are the political bosses who "rule with an iron fist and destroy anyone who comes against them," said one Grants Pass insider who requested to remain anonymous.

A group of Josephine County residents were given permission to gather signatures to recall Josephine County Commissioner Jim Raffenburg after he became the target of a number of newspaper articles appearing in the Daily Courier. First the newspaper accused him of padding his resume and when that story was proven erroneous, reporters claimed Raffenburg was hostile towards the commission's chairperson Dave Toler. However, the local television station -- KDRV, Channel 12 -- claims he's being recalled because he argues that he's owed "back-pay."

"I have done a lot of things in county government to try and reduce the size of government and that has threatened the organization itself. And there are people within county government that don't like my efforts," said Raffenburg, an avowed conservative who's a champion for small, unintrusive government.

Raffenburg also told the Daily Courier he will not run for re-election this fall. He claims the recall is based on false accusations. Recall organizers need to gather more than 4,900 valid signatures in order for them to place Raffenburg's recall on the ballot in November.

"These political power-brokers don't just want Raffenburg off the board of commissioners, they want him destroyed as well. That's why their accusations are vague and personal. They know he's an honest politician, which is something alien to liberal-left, big government types," said Mike Baker.

According to a 2006 story in the Grants Pass Climate former commission candidate, Paul Walter, is a staunch supporter of Raffenburg and believes that it's Raffenburg's conservatism that angers the politically powerful in the county.

"I'm seeing the good old boys destroy this county," Mr. Walter said during his 2006 campaign. He also said "that other counties, like Douglas County, managed to save [funds] but that Josephine County never did."

"Our county squandered every dime that they had," said Walter.

Mr. Walter said at the time -- and still says -- that he thinks very highly of County Commissioner Jim Raffenburg. "He is your Commissioner, he's truly a people's Commissioner, because he fights for you and I will do the same. We need another Raffenburg and I'm the other one."

The commissioners serve as the government's Executive Branch and perform legislative and quasi-judicial functions of Josephine County. They are responsible for the planning, formation and implementation of the annual budget.


County commissioners also formulate and set policy as well as set the number and type of job positions within county government. In addition, commissioners serve on other federal, state and local mandated governmental panels, boards and commissions with fiscal duties and authority over public monies. Commissioners also serve the ceremonial functions of the county in representations to the public for the public good and betterment of Josephine County.

Raffenburg has served the people of Josephine County since 1996. He served as Planning Commissioner for eight years, including seven as chair or vice chair. He also served four years on the Citizen Involvement Program, two as chair, and four years as a Qualified Court Panel/Civil Case Mediator for the Oregon State Courts and the Josephine County Community Dispute Resolution Program.

He also served in law enforcement when he was a Reserve Deputy Sheriff with the Josephine County Sheriff's Office for one and one-half years, he told this writer in a telephone interview.

After an honorable discharge from the US Army in 1973, Raffenburg joined the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Cadet Program in 1974. He then went to work in the construction industry and his 25 years experience included work on large commercial and public works projects. At one point he became Construction Administrator for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, where he managed multi-million dollar projects that included a Bio-medical Center for Space Medicine Research, High-Pressure Compressed Air Storage Facility and Digital Communications center.

One source within the Joesphine County government -- who spoke with on the condition of anonymity -- said he believes part of the reason for the vitriol against Raffenburg is that he believes in the Constitution, served in the military and law enforcement, two organizations that are not well liked by liberals.

"Raffenburg has the background of a true American who believes in service, and that sticks in the craw of his political opponents," said the source.

While Raffenburg fends off frontal attacks by his political enemies, he's provided evidence to this writer of a rear attack by the newspaper, the Grants Pass Daily Courier.

According to Raffenburg, in an op-ed he wrote for, editor Dennis Roler and cub reporter Stacy Stumbo have, over this past week, presented their unfounded opinions in both slanted editorials and as pseudo-news articles, alleging everything from saying he was dishonorably discharged from the US Army to asserting that he was a “certified masseur.” Both assertions are false, wrote Raffenburg.

In his op-ed, Raffenburg said that all of the documentation that proves the Daily Courier knowingly lied about him has been provided to two local respected media outlets in Josephine County -- KAJO/KLDR Radio’s Carl Wilson and Editor-in-Chief Bob Rodriguez of the Illinois Valley News newspaper.

"The Daily Courier and Dennis Roler have a history of this type of smear-attack and pseudo-journalism. In July, 2004 I provided [Roler] with the same documented proof of my experience, education and military background. Two months later the [Daily Courier] tried to interfere with the local general election process by publishing their first story about me which they knew to be false, right before that election, challenging my credentials," wrote Raffenburg in his piece.

To make matters worse, the editor refused to allow Commissioner Raffenburg an opportunity to refute their claims and would not publish a Guest Opinion piece written by Raffenburg.

"I don't know who's worse: the political hacks attacking the conservative commissioner or the newspaper editor who uses his position to knowingly push his own political agenda," said Mike Baker.

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"This type of smear attack is unprincipled and un-American. But then, as it is apparently a 'mystery' to the staff at the Daily Courier that a person would want to reserve their Rights under the US Constitution, these actions are not altogether surprising" wrote Commissioner Raffenburg in his op-ed.

"The truth is out there. Now all of you know where to find it," he wrote.

While public figures and elected officials can be fair game for the media, deliberate, malicious slander is grounds for litigation. Commissioner Raffenburg is currently exploring his options and seeking qualified legal counsel.

To contact Commissioner Jim Raffenburg:

The Grants Pass Daily Courier

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Commissioner Raffenburg -- who supporters say approaches his job as an advocate for the people he serves rather than for political insiders seeking power -- is under attack not only by political enemies but also by a newspaper that purportedly is in the hip pockets of the county's political bosses.