Nike-backed group pushes Trans-Pacific Partnership in Oregon


A new ad supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership from Oregon Jobs Through Trade, a nonprofit composed of Nike and other businesses.
Faced with a backlash from members of his party’s liberal base as well as skepticism from some fiscal conservatives over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), President Barack Obama recently traveled to Nike’s world headquarters in Oregon, promising new jobs for American workers. The shoe and apparel behemoth currently produces around 96 percent of its footwear in Southeast Asia, according to a National Journal review of the company’s SEC filings. It has been a supporter of the proposed trade deal and the fast track authority it grants the president to speed negotiations, which the company claims could help it create 10,000 new American jobs.

And while Obama tries to convince Congress and working Americans of the merits of a new free trade agreement, Nike, along with other Oregon exporters, is focusing some of its substantial financial firepower on touting the TPP in its home state.

An organization named Oregon Jobs Through Trade has purchased more than $60,000 of air time on broadcast TV stations that broadcast to Portland and Eugene, Ore. The group’s 19 members include Nike and Columbia Apparel as well as Oregon businesses with smaller national profiles, like Ruffwear Performance Dog Gear and Straw Propeller Gourmet Foods. Nike has been the most prolific contributor among them by far, with its political action committee, employees and their family members giving over $4.6 million to state and federal campaigns and parties since 1989.

The new advertisement from Oregon Jobs Through Trade features testimony from John Tapogna, the president of economic consulting group ECONorthwest, who tells viewers:

The evidence is clear that trade has meant jobs for Oregon’s small businesses. … Trade has contributed billions of dollars a year to Oregon’s economy. The trade plan in Congress will mean new opportunities and new markets for Oregon’s small businesses and it will enforce the law to level the playing field for Oregon companies.

Lawmakers from Oregon could be the lynchpin in a successful push to grant the White House fast track authority. In the Senate, Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden serves as ranking member on the Finance Committee and helped to spearhead an agreement that would fast track TPP negotiations.

In the House, Mike DeBonis of The Washington Post reports that “of the 20 to 25 House Democrats whom Obama will need to support the legislation, three votes will come from Oregonians.” In the same article, several members of Oregon Jobs Through Trade — including wine company Sokol Blosser, Puralytics and Stash Tea — elaborate on their support for the trade agreement.

And while the new influence group has a decidedly Oregonian message, it maintains some roots in the nation’s capital. Publicly disclosed ad documents show Washington lobbyist William Oldaker helms the organization, while Democratic media buying firm Waterfront Strategies — also based in the district — has been securing the firm’s air time.

You can see all of the latest broadcast TV buys, in Oregon or elsewhere, on Sunlight’s Political Ad Sleuth.