Oregon Secretary of State receives complaint about candidate Corrine Dutto, opens investigation

Nov. 7—LA GRANDE — City council candidate Corrine Dutto finds herself deflecting accusations of Oregon election law violations.

The Secretary of State Elections Division is investigating the allegation after a complaint was filed with the office against Dutto, according to Ben Morris, communications director for Oregon's Secretary of State. Dutto does not believe she has violated election laws.

"According to everything I've read and everything I've done, I believe I'm in compliance. I'm not hiding anything," she said.

Dutto is running for Position 7 against Cody Vela. She moved to La Grande 18 years ago and works as a physical therapist. She has experience on the city council — serving a four-year term that ended in 2020. Currently, Dutto serves on the city's budget committee, the city's Parking-Traffic Safety-Street Maintenance Committee and the La Grande School District's budget committee. She also previously served on the city's Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission.

The complaint against Dutto was received by the Election Division on Thursday, Oct. 27, according to communication she was sent on Nov. 3 by Compliance Specialist Swan Lubbers.

"We received a complaint alleging that Corrine Dutto failed to register a committee, which is required for any candidate who raises or spends more than $750. The Elections Division investigates every complaint we receive, and they have opened an investigation into this matter," Morris said. "The first step is to request information from the candidate to determine if there is any validity to these allegations. Timeline for finalizing an investigation varies, but it often takes two to three months."

A candidate is not required to create a candidate committee if they act as their own treasurer, do not already have a candidate committee and do not expect to spend or receive more than $750 on campaign-related costs, according to the 2022 Campaign Finance Manual published by the Secretary of State Elections Division.

Dutto said when she decided to run for the city council this year, she did not intend to spend more than $750 on her campaign.

Over the past few weeks Dutto decided she wanted to run more advertisements and knew this would put her over the threshold. She created her candidate committee, which became effective as of Oct. 30, according to the Oregon Elections System for Tracking and Reporting.

Dutto said she did not exceed $750 in campaign-related expenses until Nov. 1.

If at any point during the year a candidate exceeds $750 in spending, they must establish a dedicated bank account and file a candidate committee within three days, according to the 2022 Campaign Finance Manual. Then within seven calendar days, candidates must file a certificate of limited contributions and expenditures if they expect to spend less than $3,500 or file all transactions if they expect to spend more than $3,500.

Isabella Crowley is a reporter for The Observer. Contact her at 541-624-6014 or icrowley@lagrandeobserver.com.