The voters of Oregon want campaign finance limits so much that 78 percent voted to amend the state Constitution last year to expressly allow them (Measure 107). So where are they?
The Legislature squandered the 2021 legislative session without producing any limits. That’s partly because our current legislators were elected with more corporate money than in any other state in the U.S. (averaging $476,000 each in 2018).
The 2018 race for governor raised a record $40 million, mostly from corporations, unions and wealthy donors like Phil Knight. Now we’re set to see another record-breaking gubernatorial race next year. Here in Eugene we saw the realtors donate an astounding $35,000 to try to place one candidate on the City Council. We can’t allow our political system to be up for sale.
As we go into the 2022 short legislative session, there are still no clear plans to limit campaign donations. That’s why other actions are needed. Eugene and Lane County could enact their own campaign finance limits, like Portland and Multnomah County have with $500 donation limits, but our local elected officials haven’t acted so far.
Three state-wide ballot initiatives have been filed by the good-government group Honest Elections Oregon. All three would provide comprehensive limits for state and local races. One includes a partial public funding option. If these make it to the ballot they will win in a landslide, like every other time voters have approved these measures in the past.