“A lot of time these judges races, it comes down to who’s got the better name.”
– Republican State Senator Bruce Starr commenting on Andy Erwin’s race for judge to the Forest Grove News-Times
The District Attorney in Eric Pepin’s case, Andy Erwin, was young, ambitious and hungry for position and power… that much many people could have figured out. What few people knew, outside of his inner circles where he was building his backers, is that he wanted to run for judge.
He needed name recognition to win. What better way to do that then get his name in headline news? In comes Holly Danks, reporter for the biggest, most respected newspaper in Portland, The Oregonian.
Holly served up publicity for Erwin nicely – she was the first, and often only, reporter to write about Eric Pepin’s case with Erwin’s name in it (a frequent source cited in her stories)… and when it came time for election season… did Holly make sure The Oregonian praised Erwin and slammed his opponent?
It would be a perfect team, although it had many ethical gray areas. A District Attorney who pursued cases without evidence, yet did not pursue cases that did? A newspaper that lost its impartial stance and always sided with one man.. basically serving as his publicity machine?
Somewhere, someone must have caught on… as the evidence in her stories were later altered. If there is nothing to hide… why try to cover it up?
Here is one of Holly’s stories supporting Erwin in the judges race:
Simple enough right? Erwin wins in a “stunning vote” and Erwin is “so terribly grateful”… while his opponent gets a no comment. Good quotes for Erwin… maybe TOO good.
Now look at the article as it currently appears on The Oregonian site. You can see it here:
The first thing to notice is the byline… WHO does it say wrote the story? Jerry Casey? Who?? What happened to Holly Danks?
Go back to the first story and notice it says, “Posted by”. Digging through The Oregonian archives reveals there’s very little stories “posted by” people who are not the author of the article. After all, if you write a story, what’s so hard about clicking a few buttons and putting it on the web with your name on it? Why have someone else do it, with their name at the top? Was Holly in that much of a rush to get the stories out she needed to do it?
Funny thing about online articles at the Oregonian’s website is that writers sign their articles TWICE. Once at the top, and the second at the end of the story with their email address… so whose name still appears at the bottom of the current story? Lo and behold… Holly Danks…
So the writer, assuming Jerry Casey actually wrote the story, is sharing their article with someone just for posting it. I’m sure there’s a reason why so very few writers have other people “post” their stories on The Oregonian site. It must be a pretty easy thing to do. Why would Holly do it?
Another curious crumb is that the Internet Archive still has a copy of the article with Holly’s name at the top. If you wrote the story, and someone else posted it, wouldn’t you want a little credit for your hard work by having your name at the top? How long was Jerry Casey’s name NOT there for it to be stored in the cache of the Internet Archive? Had to be a good amount of time… so why then bother going back some time later and putting your name back on there?
Is it possible someone started to ask questions and Holly, or The Oregonian, needed to distance itself from the perception of Holly-Erwin having an unethical or improperly close relationship? That would get a name changed at the top… pretty fast I’d imagine.
One story could be considered “a fluke”. Never mind that after hours of searching through The Oregonian’s site I struggled to find more than other article that has a different name at the top then at the bottom. They always match, as first published.
So what happens when it happens not once, but twice, BOTH related to the judges race? To me, means something smells fishy.
Here is ANOTHER article Holly “posted” for the judges race praising Erwin. Take a look at who it says wrote the article, Roger Gregory. Then scroll down to the bottom – ah, Holly Danks is there again.
In the original online version, it listed Holly at the top. However, searches to secure Internet archives of the original article turned up nothing. The article wasn’t saved.
Here is the altered version on The Oregonian’s site:
Note the strong ending of the article for Erwin, “Erwin has endorsements from every police association in the county, three police chiefs, the sheriff, the district attorney and Washington County Circuit Judge Charlie Bailey.”
Who wrote this article again… an impartial newspaper or Erwin’s publicist?
There is a popular saying, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire…” Well, when there’s a tight-knit relationship between a D.A. and a reporter… and her hands are all over the glowing articles pushing said candidate… chances are there’s a few other facts under the covers nobody knows about.
This wasn’t the only “funny” thing to happen in Erwin’s judge race. If you are going all the way, why stop at the paper?
Independent news Blue Oregon did some research and had to ask, “Did Andy Erwin dupe Washington County?” My personal opinion and belief is he did a lot more then they are claiming and he got away with it.
See more about their research here…
NEXT: Was Eric Pepin put on trial for a judges election?
Tell us how you feel about this case. Post your thoughts below!