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Lars Larson Files Elections Complaint Over Kitzhaber Video

Sunday, August 31, 2014


John Kitzhaber

Gov. John Kitzhaber stars in a public service announcement on CPR

Conservative talk show radio host Lars Larson has filed a complaint with the Oregon Secretary of State's Office, alleging a pubic service announcement video starring Gov. John Kitzhaber is a violation of campaign election laws prohibiting the use of public resources for a campaign. 

Kitzhaber, a Democrat running for an unprecedented fourth term for governor, stars in a new cardiopulmonary resuscitation promotional video by the Portland Fire and Rescue Bureau. Larson charges that because PF&R is a public agency, the video is an inappropriate use of public funds. 

"If it isn’t against the law, it at least goes against the spirit of the law," Larson told GoLocalPDX. 

Kitzhaber, who administered CPR to a woman lying unconscious in a Portland street in May, stars in the short video encouraging people to learn hands-only CPR.  Kitzhaber, a former emergency room doctor, spotted the woman on his way to dinner and had his driver pull over. He then gave her CPR, helping to save her life before emergency officials arrived. 

“You don’t have to be a doctor of a governor to save a life,” he says in the video. 

Larson said although the video is not a campaign ad, it does shine a favorable light on Kitzhaber less than three months before the November election where he faces Republican challenger, state Rep. Dennis Richardson. 

“To me the thing seems way too coincidental," Larson said.  “It’s the best kind of advertising a candidate can get." 

Portland Fire & Rescue released the following statement in response to the complaint: 

"We know that in an emergency, minutes, and even seconds count. For each minute a person is in cardiac arrest, their chance of survival decreases 10%. This summer, while traveling through Portland, Governor Kitzhaber stopped to provide CPR until the Portland Fire & Rescue crew arrived, greatly improving the person’s chances of survival. PF&R’s participation in, and airing of the 30 second video regarding learning hand-only CPR is solely about our concern for our community and desire to help. As you know, this spring we were awarded Innovation funding to obtain PulsePoint (an app that alerts people to a person triaged as experiencing cardiac arrest in Portland). Simultaneously, PF&R is making a concerted effort to teach CPR to as many people as we can. In addition to classes being offered throughout the City, we have taught hands-only CPR at every Sunday Parkways event this summer. This PSA is solely focused on making a positive difference and supports our mission."

In his complaint, Lars points out that PF&R has never used Kitzhaber in a public service announcement before. He accuses the agency of misusing public funds to promote the governor. 

"I believe that union members of the Portland Fire Bureau staff have used public resources in an effort to promote candidate John Kitzhaber in his bid for re-election to the post of Governor. I believe this use of public employees and resources benefits a particular candidate and is in violation of Oregon law," he states in the complaint. 

When administering CPR, the American Heart Association recommends first calling 911 and then pushing hard and fast on the person's chest to the beat of the song "Stayin' Alive." 

PF&R will give free hands-only CPR lessons on Sept. 28 at the next Sundays Parkways event in Southwest Portland. 

See Video Below 


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