Strategies 360, powerhouse NW political consultancy, files for bankruptcy protection

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Strategies 360, one of the Northwest’s most prominent lobbying and political consulting firms, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday night to fight off what it calls a takeover effort launched by a former senior executive.

Ron Dotzauer, chief executive officer of the Seattle-based firm, and former business partner Eric Sorenson are battling over $6 million, Dotzauer told employees of the firm earlier Monday. Sorenson claims Dotzauer and the firm have repeatedly defaulted on payments promised as part of a buyout. He filed a motion in King County Superior Court to get a receiver appointed to essentially replace Dotzauer as the top executive.

“Given the hostile nature of this action and untenable risk to S360 under a receivership process, I was advised by legal counsel to protect the firm by filing a Chapter 11 petition, which will happen later today,” Dotzauer said in an all-staff email sent earlier Monday.

Dotzauer could not immediately be reached for comment Monday evening.

In the email, Dotzauer claimed the firm “is otherwise financially healthy and is only pursuing Chapter 11 as a tool for resolving the equity dispute.” There will be no downsizing, Dotzauer said in his email. He added that he still intends to sell the firm to staffers in an employee stock ownership plan.

The Democratic-leaning firm has satellite offices in 13 states, Washington, D.C., and Vancouver, B.C. Among the firm’s higher-profile local operatives are Kari Chisholm, founder and publisher of BlueOregon, a Democratic blog; BethAnne Darby, former lobbyist for the Oregon Education Association; and Amy Ruiz, former chief of staff for Sam Adams when he was Portland mayor.

Strategies 360 has also recruited several former Oregon elected officials, including former Treasurer Randall Edwards, former Portland Commissioner Erik Sten and former state legislator Jennifer Williamson.

It has worked on dozens of Oregon political campaigns over the past decade, with $2 million of publicly reported expenditures attributed to the firm in campaign finance records. That doesn’t include spending for political consulting not directly tied to a campaign.

Over the years, it has worked for former Gov. John Kitzhaber, Multnomah County’s “Preschool for All” measure, two school funding measures for the Beaverton School District, a proposal to decriminalize sex work and a Portland Parks operating levy.

– Jeff Manning; [email protected]

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