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Satya Chandragiri, 2023 Salem Keizer School Board Candidate: Behind the Money
Seeking a second term, this Salem-based Republican is neck-deep in extremist cash
They say you can tell a lot about a person by their campaign finance records.
Alright, I might have just made that up. But, nevertheless, it’s probably true for politicians.
So who, then, is Satya Chandragiri, the first candidate to announce for the Salem-Keizer School Board election set for May 2023?
Chandragiri first started raising money for political office in 2018, in a failed bid to become the Republican candidate for State Representative in Oregon’s 19th House District. After that loss, he immediately shifted his focus to the Salem-Keizer School Board race in Zone 4. He won, serving part of his first term as board chair.
He now seeks a second term. And the $55+ he’s raised in cash and in-kind contributions since 2018 is going to show us the financial DNA of Chandragiri as a candidate.
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So we start with $55,382.31 total in both cash and in-kind contributions raised since 2018 by two separate committees.
*You can peruse Chandragiri’s campaign finance data here (Google Sheet)*
For purposes of quantifying support for a candidate via contributions to their campaigns, it makses sense to subtract self-funding. In this case, Chandragiri has kicked in $8550 of self-funding so that leaves us with $46,832 of outside funding.
Top donor: Oregon Right to Life
$11,543.31 (25% of contributions)
Largest cluster of support: establishment Republican Party
$9,000 (19% of contributions)
With some interesting contributors, including:
Mike Nearman - Chandragiri took $1000 from this disgraced former state legislator, who planned and executed a violent attack on the Oregon State Capitol building with armed domestic terrorists. Nearman’s armed goons attacked police as they tried to force their way into the Capitol building where Nearman’s colleagues were working.
Bud Pierce (and his late wife) - This guy loves running for Oregon governor. He tries it every four years or so. But clearly he had enough cash on hand to have thrown Chandragiri a cool $6,000 over the course of 2018 and 2019.
Want to hear something weird about how Chandragiri spent his campaign cash?
Would it surprise you he spent most of it with someone closely connected with Oregon Right to Life?
In 2018 and 2019, Chandragiri spent $42,839 on his campaign efforts.
Nearly half, or $20,408, went to a single consulting firm he relied on very heavily to get him elected to Salem-Keizer School Board - Knopp & Company, LLC.
The Knopp in that name is Reagan Knopp who, just weeks after receiving the last of payment from Chandragiri, took over as political director for Oregon Right to Life in the summer of 2019. In fact, Knopp later admitted in a 2021 interview with Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) that he deliberately targeted several school districts with wads of Right to Life cash as a way to counter what he imagined was a left-wing plot to indoctrinate students through sex education. (No joke, listen to this interview. It’s wild. And sad.)
Anway, that’s the whoosh of money swirling through the revolving door of politics and the lobbyists that purchase their attention and influence.
Incidentally, Knopp seems to have fallen a few pegs on the political ladder. His father, Republican State Senator Tim Knopp tried to slide his spawn a six-figure state job. The Oregon Government Ethics Commission squashed the blatant attempt at nepotism, so Dad had to give his out-of-work son a job in his own district office. Totally normal shit, guys.
Anyway - all of this campaign finance information about Salem-Keizer School Board candidate Chandragiri really leads to one question…
Why on planet earth is Oregon Right to Life so invested in a candidate for a position that will never make a decision that has anything to do with abortion?
Do you think Oregon Right to Life invests all of this money and manages all of these revolving door relationships just in case, some day, the Salem-Keizer School Board has to make a decision about abortion?
Or do you think it’s more likely Oregon Right to Life money is spent with expectations Chandragiri will advance a set of generally conservative principles meant to maintain a specific type of status quo favored by…y’know…Republicans.
I mean, Chandragiri’s main political consultant admits that’s his go-to strategy and general modus operandi - use trumped-up, culture war issues to attempt to divide communities along ideological lines.
But, of course, the only way to really prove any of this - the influence of far right money - would be if Chandragiri regularly uses his Salem-Keizer School Board Director position to advance conservative principles.
Lucky for us, that’s pretty much all he’s done since he was elected! And it’s really well-documented. We’re publishing that next.
In the meantime, we’ll keep an eye on Chandragiri’s donors & expenditures for his 2023 run.