PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The usually sleepy Washington County District Attorney’s race is squarely in the focus of national interests as evidence clearly mounts this is the latest attempt by billionaire George Soros to put his stamp on the criminal justice system.

A month ago, the Chief Deputy District Attorney for Washington County, Kevin Barton, squared off at a candidate’s forum in the race with little-known defense attorney Max Wall. The retiring DA had endorsed Barton months ago and on the last day to file, Wall threw his name into the ring.

“Part of the reason I’m running is it hasn’t been an open election in 20 years,” Wall said.

In this Thursday, June 8, 2017 file photo, Hungarian-American investor George Soros attends a press conference at the Foreign Ministry in Berlin, Germany. (AP Photo/Ferdinand Ostrop, file)

But rumors swirled he is being supported by Soros, long tied to Democratic initiatives and candidates. “I’ve seen and heard these rumors,” Wall said at that forum, “and they are not true.”

Records reveal Wall’s new political ads, which cost about $94,000, were paid for by the Oregon Law and Justice PAC, a political action committee run by Whitney Tymas.

Tymas is a political operative for Soros.

News reports show they have a history of trying to influence District Attorney races in different parts of the country in an ideological split over whether locking people up is the reason for the drop in crime or whether bulging prisons are bankrupting states.

In Denver, records show Soros spent more than $1.3 million on ads in a losing effort to defeat their incumbent district attorney.

Oregon records also reveal a day before Wall said he didn’t take money from Soros, he already had taken about $21,000 from a PAC tied to Soros.

“It’s OK to take money and it’s OK to take money from George Soros,” Barton told KOIN 6 News, “as long as you’re honest about it. But the key is it’s not OK to be dishonest about where it’s coming from.”

KOIN 6 News previously asked Wall for an on-camera interview, but he’s refused unless KOIN 6 News doesn’t ask about Soros.

In a phone interview 2 weeks ago, KOIN asked Wall why he said he hadn’t taken money from Soros when the records showed he already took money from a Whitney Tymas PAC.

“I spoke with her in the lead up to (my running for DA), just like I spoke with several other people as well,” Wall said then. “I was glad to hear people might be interested in the viewpoints that I had. But (running for DA) was my decision at the end of the day.”

Barton has been in the race for months with the backing of most in law enforcement.

Wall just joined seven weeks ago and already has more money backing him thanks to the money tied to Soros.

Barton got his biggest contribution Wednesday, from Nike founder Phil Knight for $25,000.

Barton’s out of state contributions are all from individuals, totalling $7,550.

Wall was tied up in court on Wednesday and was not available for an interview, his campaign told KOIN 6 News. In a statement, Wall said:

“Over 125 people have given to my campaign since we started this race last month. I’m proud of the support we have earned from people who agree that our community needs to get smarter on crime. This is an open seat for the first time in 20 years and there is a real difference between the candidates on the issues and who supports us. 
“I wasn’t ever promised financial support when I entered this race. As my campaign has gained energy and momentum, more and more people and advocates have chosen to support me because they agree that the DA’s office is not doing enough to reduce crime, be smart with a our tax dollars and reform the criminal justice system.”

The primary election is May 15.