Portland campaign spending measure petitions submitted
Portland voters may be asked to vote on a campaign finance reform measure that is similar to one passed by Multnomah County voters that has been ruled unconstitutional.
In fact, supporters of the city measure say they turned in more than enough voter signatures on petitions Friday to place the measure on the November 2018 ballot — mere days after supporter of the county measure filed notice of their intent to appeal the unfavorable ruling on it.
Neverthess, Jason Kafoury, a Portland lawyer supporting both measures, says reforms are needed to reduce the influence of big money in political campaigns, and candidates should respect the limits the contribution and spending seek to impose. The county measure passed with 89 percent of the vote at in 2016.
"Oregon is one of five states with no limits on political contributions. We're changing the culture in our city, and candidates should respect the will of the 89 percent of voters in the county," says Kafoury.
A group of supporters called Honest Elections Portland submitted 55,197 petition signatures for their proposed measure — Initiative PDX-03 — to the City Auditor's Office on Friday, July 6. Only 34,156 valid signatures of legally regisitered Portland voters are required to place the measure on the ballot.
The changes the group is proposing to the City Charter would:
• Prohibit contributions by corporations and other entities to candidates
• Limit candidate to receiving contributions from any individual and political committee to $500
• Allow formation of Small Donor Committees (SDC) that may only accept contributions of $100 or less per person per year
• Allow SDCs to contribute any amounts to candidate races and spend any amount on independent expenditures
• Limit individual independent expenditures in any race to $5,000 per year
• Limit political committee independent expenditures per race to $10,000 per year, and require they be funded by contributions from individuals of $500 or less
• Requires the five largest contributors (of $500 or more) be listed on political advertisements, with the same requirement for ads funded by independent expenditures
After county voters approved similar limits, the Multnomah County Commission asked the Multnomah County Circuit Court to rule on its legality. The Oregon Supreme Court has struck down such limits in the past, citing the broad free expression rights bestowed by the First Amendment of the Oregon Constitution.
Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Eric Bloch stuck down the limits on the same grounds in March. Supporters filed notice that they intend to appeal the ruling on July 3. Some have previously said the measure was intended to bring the issue back to the state Supreme Court.
The proposed Portland measure is also supported by the Oregon Progressive Party, the Pacific Green Party, the Multnomah Democratic Party, the Independent Party of Oregon, Physicians for Social Responsibility, 350PDX, Bernie PDX, Move to Amend, Portland Clean Air, the Alliance for Democracy, and others.
"We thank our dozens of volunteers and also thank the volunteers of the Portland Clean Energy Fund initiative, who collected thousands of signatures on the campaign finance reform measure," says Liz Trojan, one of the chief petitioners of the proposed measure.