The Daily Signal
Since 2014, The Daily Signal’s Harkness has closely tracked the story of Aaron and Melissa Klein, an Oregon couple who faced a $135,000 fine after refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. The Daily Signal’s 2015 video about the couple was viewed 4 million times on Facebook—our most popular ever.
That same year, Harkness also investigated Brad Avakian, commissioner of the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries. (A judge from the bureau recommended the Kleins’ $135,000 fine.) Her investigative reporting revealed that Avakian was corresponding with an LGBT advocacy group, which actively spoke out against the Kleins. The relationship raised questions about whether Avakian and other agency employees were using the Kleins’ case to pursue a political agenda.
Fast forward to this year when Avakian ran for Oregon secretary of state. Running as a Democrat in liberal Oregon, he lost his election. What’s even more remarkable: No Republican had held statewide office for two decades.
“The people of Oregon have spoken,” Aaron Klein told The Daily Signal. “Hopefully with the guy that won, we’ll see religious freedom start to grow in this state.”