Greene granted no-contact order against former campaign volunteer

By Dameon Pesanti, Columbian staff writer

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Port of Vancouver commissioner candidate Kris Greene has been granted a yearlong no-contact order against one of his former campaign volunteers.

During a hearing Wednesday in Clark County District Court, Court Commissioner Todd George ordered Robert Sabo to have no contact with Greene or his family for a year. He made an exception that the two may attend services at the same church, so long as there is no contact. Sabo is also allowed third-party contact with Greene’s insurance agency, which handles his insurance policies.

George did not prohibit Sabo from talking with the media about the Greene campaign. George also didn’t make a determination about any distance that must be maintained between the two men.

The hearing was held Wednesday, the morning after Election Day, as Greene trailed well behind his opponent, Don Orange.

“Even though I lost, the election was poetic justice,” Sabo said after the hearing. “It’s unfortunate — it’s unfortunate that I lost a friend.” 

Greene ignored requests for comment after the hearing.

Sabo describes himself as a former campaign strategist for Greene’s campaign. During the hearing, Greene’s description fell short of that. Instead he said Sabo “contributed as much as anybody else did” and was handling “the IT side” of it, which included building the campaign’s website and Facebook page.

Sabo and Greene had a falling out in early September, around the time Vancouver Energy donated $75,000 to Greene’s campaign. At one point, Sabo warned Greene that he had 24 hours “to come clean” about the campaign.

Shortly thereafter, Sabo went public with documents that revealed the close ties between Greene’s campaign and Vancouver Energy and its supporters.

The order was similar to the temporary one George issued in mid-October when the case was initially heard. In that hearing, Greene extended a temporary order against Robert Sabo until Wednesday’s hearing. However, he did not grant a request to forbid Sabo from speaking about Greene’s campaign to the public or the media.

George also said his decision wasn’t influenced by Sabo’s decision to talk to the media about Greene’s campaign in and of itself, “which he had every right to do.”

George found that based on the preponderance of the evidence, Sabo harassed Greene during a phone call on Sept. 15, saying he didn’t believe Greene would have made up the conversation. George also said Greene’s claim of harassment by Sabo was supported by the messages.

Greene said Sabo “shouted” and “screamed” at him during the call and later sent him text messages that left him fearful of Sabo and what he might do. 

Court documents included a police report created on Oct. 3 which says that police responded to Greene’s home in response to alleged threats made by Sabo to Greene saying that he would “ruin him and his campaign.” The police report also references text messages made by Sabo to Greene.

While Greene characterized the interactions as intimidation that caused him fear and anxiety, Sabo described them as spirited conversations between two close friends over outside influences on Greene’s campaign.

Vancouver Energy wants to build a $210 million crude-by-rail terminal at the Port of Vancouver. Greene said he never publicly announced support for the terminal, saying he was committed to allowing the state-level evaluation of the project go through. But he had a close relationship with the company before he publicly announced he was running for office.

In contrast, Orange ran a campaign on canceling the lease between the port and Vancouver Energy.

The election was hotly contested because of its potential to shift the balance of power toward those who want to see the Port of Vancouver walk away from the lease.