Common Cause Oregon Interns Speak Out About The Lack Of Oregon's Campaign Contribution Limits

Written by Common Cause Oregon Interns on April 6, 2015


Thumbnail for the Money in Politics issue bucket

In Oregon today we have a pressing issue at hand: unlimited money in politics. Currently, Oregon has no limits on financial contributions for political races. This places the state behind the times, as 44 other states have passed legislation addressing this threat to democracy.

The results of this lack of regulation in Oregon are staggering. It effectively allows .08% of the population, which is the portion of the residents in Oregon who donate more than $2500 to candidates, to dominate the legislature. This assures elected officials are more concerned with the political desires of a select few rather than the residents of Oregon as a whole. For many residents this is incredibly discouraging and as a result trust in government is at an all-time low and voter participation is greatly decreased. The act of voting is key to democratic participation, but when people feel that their vote isn’t given equal weight, or doesn’t count at all, they are unlikely to take the time to be involved.

Further issues stem from the unlimited campaign contribution system in Oregon. The cost of campaigning for our elected officials has risen significantly. Currently, House Candidates in Oregon are 7th in the nation for money raised per election cycle, more than New York and Florida, and spend as much per capita on voters as officials campaigning in California. As such, elected officials are spending more and more time campaigning, as their office depends upon their ability to out raise their opponents. For the average Oregonian this is a bad deal.

The solution to the many problems which occur as a result of unchecked money in politics is campaign finance reform. Currently in Oregon, there are three important bills voters should be aware of, and support, if money in politics is something that concerns you on a personal level.

  • SJR 5 – Would provide voters a chance to pass a constitutional amendment which would empower the Legislature to set campaign contribution limits
  • SB 75 – Would set actual limits on campaign contributions. The current proposal would set limits at $2600 per individual and $5000 per political committee
  • HB 2178 – Would update disclosure requirements, so that in the final weeks of campaigns, donations over $2500 must be reported within 48 hours. This allows the general public to learn of significant last minute contributions before voting themselves

Although no one bill can promise to be a cure all, these pieces of legislation promise to make much needed progress in leveling the playing field and replenishing the power of the individual vote.

If this is something that is important to you, please take a moment to sign the petition.

-Alex R


As of right now, there are no contribution limits in the state of Oregon. This makes Oregon behind 44 states that already have taken action to take money out of politics. It means that big money can play a part in how an election turns out. The money in Oregon’s politics is really getting out of hand and it needs to change.

By not having contribution limits, the unlimited spending has increased the cost of running a campaign. Compared to New York and Florida districts, which are larger than Oregon’s, candidates have to raise more money. In 2014, the total amount of campaign contributions was $37 million, making it among the most expensive states in the country. So the cost was considerably higher than states that have contribution levels. Because of this, our races are costing just about the same per person as campaigns in California are costing.

We can put an end to the over-spending in elections. There are 2 pieces of legislation that we are calling for legislatures to pass. The pieces of legislation are SJR 5, and SB 75. SJR 5 is a constitutional amendment that us the ability to set contribution limits. SB 75 is the bill that puts the contribution limits themselves into place. This bill has limits for an individual and a political committee. In SB 75, it states that the limit for an individual will be put at $2600. The limit for a political committee would be $5000.

But we need your help to pass these reforms! We need the voters to demand that we pull money out of politics. Voters can help push these bills through the legislature by signing this petition.

-Merry

Office: Common Cause Oregon

Issues: Money In Politics, Money in Politics

Tags: Campaign Finance Reform, Fighting Big Money

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