Humphrey warned?on signs

<p>An old version of an Al Humphrey campaign signs sits in a yard on Dorion Avenue in Pendleton back in March 2012.</p>

The Oregon Secretary of State Elections Division has warned Umatilla County sherriff candidate Al Humphrey to be careful his campaign signs don’t imply he is the incumbent.

“They don’t imply that,” Humphrey said Tuesday, adding elections officials found nothing wrong with his signs.

Humphrey is vying against county Undersheriff Terry Rowan and Oregon State Police Sgt. Bob Cannon in the election for sheriff. Signs for Rowan and Cannon each use the word “elect.”

Humphrey’s signs state “Al Humphrey” across the top and “Umatilla County Sheriff” below. A Feb. 9 letter from the elections division states Humphrey broke no campaign law, but also advised him: “In the future, please be more vigilant to make your campaign materials clear to avoid any implication that you already hold the office which you are seeking.”

Sheriff John Trumbo complained Feb. 6 to the elections division that Humphrey’s signs imply he already was the sheriff, he said Tuesday. The Secretary of State’s office asked that he send photos. The elections division three days later sent Humphrey the warning and Trumbo a copy.

“I didn’t want to make a big issue out of it,” Trumbo said. “I just wanted my people and my supporters to know that I looked into it and there is nothing more I can do about it, so I just let it go.”

Compliance specialist Alana Cox wrote Humphrey that under Oregon law, no one in any campaign material may describe the candidate as the incumbent “with knowledge or reckless disregard”?that the statement is false.

Humphrey’s signs do not violate the law, Cox wrote. Voters may interpret that Humphrey is “simply running for the office.”

But, she also said the elections division advises candidates to put the word “for” between the candidate's name and the office they seek, or add the word “elect” before the candidate's name.

“This ensures that the public is aware that the candidate is not the incumbent for the office they are seeking,” Cox wrote.

Humphrey has several large signs in Pendleton. Only one, on Tutuilla Road, now has a sticker saying “Vote” in front of his name. The remaining signs are unchanged.

Humphrey said the advice from the elections division only applies to his future signs, so he won’t change any more of those on display.

Secretary of State spokeswoman Andrea Cantu-Schomus called the letter “a warning,” but also said the agency was only giving advice to Humphrey. Trumbo said his concern is how Humphrey is portraying himself in the signs.

“If you’re going to represent the citizens of Umatilla County and you’re going to enforce the laws, then you need to be straight with the public — and these signs are not,” Trumbo said.

Humphrey asserted he is not portraying himself as the sheriff in the signs and refused to say more.

And state election officials are doing no more in the case.

“Not finding a violation of election law, the Elections Division determines this investigation is closed and does not intend to pursue this matter further,” Cox wrote.

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Contact Phil Wright at pwright@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0833.

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