Not a Member of any Political Party

My Addiction & Criminal History

I've had some challenges in my life and made some poor decisions that I can't take back. While I'm not proud of those decisions I am open about them. I am thankful for getting help for problems that I have had.

As far back as I can remember I have been a gambler. I remember looking at the "Latest Line" in the Sports section of the newspaper every morning and picking which baseball teams would win. I was probably 9 years old at the time. As far as I remember I was very good at picking the winners. I would watch the Megabucks and Powerball drawings on TV every Saturday... probably just before American Gladiators was on. I would get the Dog Racing book and pick the dogs that would win, place and show. At age 12 I was going to the dog track to watch. On my 18th Birthday I bought a 4 spot Keno Ticket and hit all 4 numbers on my first $1 ever played.

I played in a Texas Hold'em league that was for fun and for prizes. I was pretty good. I then started playing at the casino and online. I then got into Roulette... a little Black Jack and Video Poker which never appealed to me. Point is... I was into it pretty deep. I was losing a lot of money... and a lot of time. It cost a lot in a lot of ways.

In 2008 I was managing a convenience store & gas station. My grandma had become ill and went from our home to a hospital, then to a Rehabilitation place and then to an Assisted Living where she still lives today. She was paying the majority of the family bills prior to this. My parents were both sick... and I had just found out that I had a child. I felt a ton of pressure. The answer seemed to be that I better go win some money at the casino. I got into money that wasn't mine. I lost money that wasn't mine. I was fired from my job. That night I gave a statement to the police and was charged with Felony Theft I. The very next day I went out and got two jobs through staffing agencies. I worked for both of them until my plea bargain went through and I was formally convicted of the crime. I was honest with both of the companies I was working for and they were OK with my returning. I was also honest with my Staffing agencies and both of them terminated me as a result. I have never worked a "normal job" since.

The terms of my plea deal were to do 15 days in jail, 2 years probation, the $3200 restitution and pay my attorney fees, etc. I also had some other rules about my bank accounts and not being able to spend over $100 without permission, etc. Nothing about Theft or Gambling. Knowing I had lost my jobs my honest thought was "I guess I better get good at Poker".

During my two weeks in jail my dad passed away. It was awful to not be there for him or for my mom during this time. The day I got out of jail his obituary was in the paper. I went to the Probation Office. The Probation Officer asked me why I committed the crime. I told her about my gambling addiction. She immediately mandated that I get treatment for the addiction and abstain from gambling. If I gambled for money or not for money during my time on probation I would go back to jail. I was so thankful for this mandate. I wanted the help and it was now required.

The State of Oregon has free Gambling Counseling. My counselor was amazing. I didn't have the desire to gamble anymore anyway, but together we were able to address the reasons for my gambling addiction. After two years of one-on-one and group counseling I "graduated" the program. Shortly after that my counselor opened his own practice. I was his first client and continued to see him for another year or so. I'm so thankful for his help.

I don't know if it was a "perfect storm" that got me the help I needed or what... but I am thankful to be healthier now than I was before this conviction. This path was very painful. It hurt a lot of people. It cost me a lot.

My mom died in 2011. In May 2012 I became homeless. The place I was living (where my family had lived for 34 years) kicked me out because of my felony. I was homeless from May 2012 until July 2013. I was fortunate to have places to stay for most of that time... and I was given a Van to live in. With the help of a number of people I survived. The counselor that helped me with my Gambling was able to find me resources to help with overcoming homelessness. In July 2013 I got an apartment. I am very thankful for the resources and people that helped me overcome homelessness.

This Felony can be expunged, it's just a matter of having the money to complete that process. I've also been asked by a number of people if a felon can be President. The answer is YES. I can't change the past and I won't allow that to stop me from doing what is right for myself and the country now and in the future.

I haven't had it as bad as a lot of people I have seen throughout this process. I do have some first hand prospective on the challenges that our communities, citizens and their loved ones face with addiction, poverty and homelessness.

I will passionately work to address these important issues as President.

Ed L. Baker