Sources Say: Brown wants campaign finance reform - later
Anyone who thinks Oregon Gov. Kate Brown actually believes there is too much money in politics should read The Oregonian's recent story on her continued fundraising.
Patrick Starnes, the Independent Party of Oregon's candidate for governor, withdrew two weeks before the November 2018 general election and endorsed Brown because she promised to ask the Oregon Legislature to limit campaign contributions.
But she's not leading by example, as former EO Media Group reporter Hillary Borrud pointed out in her Dec. 21 story, headlined "The Oregon governor's race is over. Kate Brown's campaign is not."
According to the article, although Brown cannot run for re-election in 2022 because of Oregon's limit of two consecutive terms in the governor's office, she finished her campaign with around $700,000 in the bank and currently is raising funds for her inauguration, estimated at less than $100,000.
Two fundraising events are planned, and a "platinum circle" sponsorship costs $50,000. Plus, as the governor's campaign reminded invitees, "Kate Brown Committee can accept unlimited contributions, and can take corporate contributions."
Brown also has not promised to stop fundraising during the 2019 legislative session, when lawmakers are prohibited from soliciting and collecting campaign contributions.
A campaign spokesman said she could use the money to "communicate directly with voters and enlist their help pushing lawmakers to pass her agenda," such as a ballot measure for a tax increase the governor is expected to support. Brown also could run for the U.S. Senate in 2020 if Jeff Merkley fully commits to running for president.
Merkley's balancing act
As 2019 dawns, U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley begins the delicate task of running for president, while keeping the option open of dropping out and filing for re-election, if he isn't doing well by the state's March 10 filing deadline.
Maybe that's why a campaign speech he delivered in Iowa on Dec. 20 stressed themes that Oregon Democrats support — fighting climate change, helping immigrants and supporting working-class families.
And it helps explain why a Dec. 23 fundraising email to supporters didn't mention what he's running for. Instead, it said, "Let's stand together like never before."
Non-stop political fundraising
The end of the year traditionally sparks a wave of fundraising requests from politicians and political parties urging their supporters to contribute and take advantage of the state's political tax credit.
As 2019 approached, the Democratic Party of Oregon reached high tide with more than 60 emails to supporters in December alone. They started with two emails on Dec. 1 — one from the party and one from Chair Jeanne Atkins — and continued through the end of the year with multiple emails from executive director Brad Martin, U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, and other Oregon Democrats.