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City Council Candidate Misrepresents His Troubled Past, Gets Statesman Journal Endorsement Anyway

We previously reported that Benjamin’s criminal history resulted in convictions. We have now updated all of our stories to reflect Benjamin’s statements to us that he entered into a diversion program to avoid conviction.

Here are links to correspondence between Benjamin and us and 6 pages of police narrative from one of his arrests. 

Letter #1

Letter #2

Gresham Police Report

Here is our new updated story:

Earlier this month Salem’s Statesman Journal newspaper endorsed a candidate for the Salem City Council who it knew misrepresented himself to them.   The endorsement was made while the paper possessed documentation of misrepresentations made by the candidate – Daniel Benjamin, who is running for the open seat in Ward 6 in East Salem.

The newspaper conducted an interview with all candidates using a written questionnaire.  One question was: “Have you ever been convicted of a crime, been disciplined by a professional licensing board/organization or had an ethics violation filed against you? If so, please give the details.”

Benjamin answered: “No.”

Another question: “Any skeletons in your closet or other potentially embarrassing information that you want to disclose before it comes up in the campaign?”

Benjamin answered: “None that I can think of.”

In fact, Benjamin was arrested three times in the 1990s on charges of assault, including throwing an ex-girlfriend into a dumpster and throwing her into a tree.  Benjamin’s record also shows traffic violations including driving with a suspended license in 2006.

On April 28, Statesman Journal staff was provided with documentation of these arrests, including a police report from the Gresham Police Department.

Statesman Journal elected to not publish this information, and on May 4, officially endorsed Benjamin as the best candidate running for city council in Ward 6.

On another candidate issue, Statesman Journal asked whether Benjamin had ever filed for bankruptcy or were delinquent on their taxes.  Here he disclosed that he had filed for bankruptcy recently, though he was vague on the details.

Before endorsing Benjamin, Statesman Journal also had in its possession Benjamin’s bankruptcy records from 2013. Among the more than two-dozen debts Benjamin owed were some to the City of Salem that had been turned over to a collection agency.

Despite this, Benjamin was appointed to serve on the City of Salem Budget Committee in 2013.

Additionally, the documents showed that Benjamin was delinquent on his Federal taxes and was making monthly payments to the IRS.

He did not disclose this fact in his answer to the Statesman Journal question about delinquent taxes.

As of May 13, Statesman Journal stands by its endorsement of Daniel Benjamin.

So far this campaign season, the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce PAC has provided 55% of the funding for Benjamin’s campaign while the Home Builders Association of Polk and Marion County PAC has donated 32% of his funding.  Other contributors are the Salem Area Realtors PAC and City Councilman Warren Bednarz.

Statesman Journal has endorsed all four of the candidates who had earlier been endorsed by the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce, the Home Builders Association of Polk and Marion County and the Salem Area Realtors Association.

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One Comment

  1. Kudos to Salem Weekly for publishing what sure seems to be an entirely accurate description of Benjamin’s troubled past.

    Here’s some advice for Mr. Benjamin: if you hadn’t tried to hide your assault arrest for domestic violence when a newspaper’s candidate questionnaire asked you about “skeletons in the closet” that could come out during your city council campaign, you could have controlled this story — being contrite, sharing details, talking about what you’ve learned about yourself and male domestic violence.

    As it was, you got offended and threatened legal action when the media appropriately tried to learn about your prior history of domestic violence.

    Lesson: it’s better to be open and honest about the dark side of your past. Everybody has done things that they regretted. What bothers people, such as me, is when political candidates try to whitewash their dark side. This shows that if they were to be elected, they probably wouldn’t be honest and open with the people they represent either.

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