Eric Ohlsen and his three staffers hang out in their new office space on Southeast Morrison Street in Portland, looking like guys with high-tech startup dreams.
Electronic gear is scattered about and it doesn’t look as if anyone has worried too much about the decor. Rounded and pale, Ohlsen looks like he spends a lot of time inside staring at a computer screen.
Ohlsen is indeed a tech geek, but his focus is unearthing the hidden backgrounds of political candidates, not figuring out another smartphone app. He owns an opposition research firm, these days as much of a must-hire for campaigns as media consultants and pollsters. [...]
Ohlsen happens to work for Democrats, but opposition research is an ecumenical affair. While Ohlsen is working for the Oregon House Democratic caucus this year, Republicans hired an Oregon City private investigator named Scott Castleman. Financial disclosure reports show that both Castleman and Ohlsen are busy researching candidates involved in several House races.