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The chief petition changes an accusation of an 'illegal' reelection loan to a 'violation' of city election laws.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Mayor Ted WheelerThe campaign to recall Mayor Ted Wheeler has refiled its prospective petition.

The new petition was submitted to the City Auditor's Office on Thursday, July 8, and approved Friday morning.

The only change in the new petition concerns $150,000 that Wheeler loaned his 2020 reelection campaign. The original petition called the loan "illegal." The new petition says the loan was "in violation of Portland's campaign finance laws."

The change relates to a determination by City Auditor Mary Hull Caballero that the loan was legal.

The determination followed a complaint filed against the Wheeler campaign that the loan violated a $5,000 limit on personal campaign contributions included in strict finance limits approved by Portland voters in 2018. Hull Caballero determined the "Self-Funding Limit" is unconstitutional.

"The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees candidates 'the unfettered right to make unlimited personal expenditures' on behalf of the candidate's own campaign. Because it is impossible for a candidate to retain this constitutional right and comply with the Self-Funding Limit, the Supremacy Clause operates to preempt the Self-Funding Limit. The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently held that the only government interest significant enough to infringe political free speech is the prevention of corruption, or the appearance of corruption, in politics. Significantly, the Court has found that the government's interest is insufficient where, as here, 'use of personal funds reduces the candidate's dependence on outside contributions and thereby counteracts the coercive pressures and attendant risk of abuse,'" Hull Caballero wrote hours before the Nov. 4, 2020 election.

The recall campaign organizers continues to say that the loan was illegal. But chief petitioner Melissa Blount, a Portland Public Schools teacher librarian, decided to rewrite the petition to be more precise, the campaign said.

"We believe that the two statements have the exact same meaning, but the new language makes it clearer that Wheeler specifically violated City Code 2.10.010(B)(3)," said campaign volunteer John Schroeder.

The campaign has 90 days to gather 47,778 valid signatures of Portland voters and submit them by the deadline of Oct. 6, 2021. If enough valid signatures are submitted by the deadline, Portland voters will be presented with a yes or no question on the ballot of a recall election asking whether to recall the mayor.

Here is the revised text obtained by the Portland Tribune:

"Portland has endured years of crisis. When we needed a leader to rise to the challenge, Ted Wheeler's inaction made our problems worse. Portlanders have lost confidence that their government will be there in times of need. Our city is full of good-hearted, decent residents. We should be an example to the world. Instead, with Wheeler as mayor, we have veered off course and our city's reputation has been tarnished.

"A recall is an expression of democracy designed to remove politicians who aren't serving effectively. Portlanders are ready to recover and we can't afford to waste the next three-and-a-half years. Portland deserves better than an uninspiring mayor re-elected with less than 47% of the vote. We deserve a mayor who was elected without personally loaning his campaign $150,000 of his own money in violation of Portland's campaign finance laws. Our neighbors, families, and businesses deserve a mayor who prioritizes their safety and wellbeing.

"Ted Wheeler has repeatedly demonstrated to too many of us that he does not serve this city. Portlanders deserve a fresh start."

More information on the recall and process can be found here.

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