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Skarlatos runs again for Oregon's 4th Congressional District, as DeFazio prepares to retire

Alek Skarlatos - Alek for Oregon
Photo provided by Alek for Congress 20202 campaign.
McFarland Productions/McFarland Productions
Alek Skarlatos, candidate for Oregon's 4th Congressional District.

Republican Alek Skarlatos is running again for Oregon’s 4th Congressional District, following long-term Representative Peter DeFazio’s plans to retire.

DeFazio has served as House Representative since 1986. His decision to step down has fired up interest from a number of declared and potential candidates.

Skarlatos sees Democrats vulnerable on a number of fronts, from inflation and the Ukraine crisis under President Biden’s watch, to management of the state’s timber and coastal industries.

“This is a Democrat-leaning district, I’m not going to win by simply appealing to Republicans,” he said. “Moderates and unaffiliated voters, they want the same common sense things I think that most Americans want: lower taxes, less regulation, less inflation, managing our forests properly, and getting back to having living wage jobs in the 4th Congressional district.”

Skarlatos also opposes vaccine mandates, at least from the federal government. He says that more needs to be done about homelessness, managing forests to be more resilient to wildfires, and taking care of senior citizens.

At this point, Skarlatos is the sole Republican running for the district. The former National Guardsman challenged DeFazio in 2020, and lost by a margin of just over 5 percentage points. He’d also outraised the Springfield Democrat by roughly half a million dollars, in a contest that garnered national attention and demonstrated the stakes Republicans and Democrats saw in its outcome.

15:17 Trust scrutiny

Following his loss to DeFazio, Skarlatos founded a non-profit for veterans, called the 15:17 Trust. Democrats have since highlighted questions about it, with a political action committee accusing the Roseburg Republican of using $65,000 from the 15:17 Trust to fund his latest bid for the 4th Congressional District.

Talking to KLCC about his campaign, Skarlatos pushed back.

“I was never paid by the 15:17 Trust, I never served on the board of directors, the transfer of funds - the unused portion back to the campaign- was completely legal,” he said. “And once the complaint runs its course, it’s going to be dismissed. And like I said, I hope it’s dismissed before campaign season for that reason.”

The 15:17 Trust refers to a train bound for Paris, where Skarlatos and two fellow American soldiers thwarted a terrorist attack in 2015. The three were awarded France’s highest honor for their actions, and Clint Eastwood directed a movie about the incident, The 15:17 to Paris, with Skarlatos starring as himself.

FEC records show Skarlatos’ campaign was fined over $3,500 last year, for failing to provide appropriate notice of campaign finance contributions.

GOP House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has endorsed Skarlatos, as well as several rural county sheriffs. In his free time, Skarlatos hikes as well as other outdoor recreational activities, and does public speaking.

Copyright @2022, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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