Democracy Reform Oregon Releases Money in Oregon Politics Report

For Immediate Release: April 21, 2009

Contact: Janice Thompson, (503) 283-1922

Democracy Reform Oregon Releases Money in Oregon Politics Report; Calls for Legislative Action with Allies on Campaign Finance Reform

With backing from research findings in an extensive analysis of the role of money in Oregon politics, groups call for legislative passage of HB 3009 on campaign finance reform.

“Oregon’s elected officials are good folks stuck in a bad system,” said Janice Thompson, Executive Director of Democracy Reform Oregon and author of Money in Oregon Politics: History, Trends, and Reform. “We urge legislative adoption of the campaign finance reform provisions in HB 3009.”

Key findings from the report are:

Fundraising totals continue to climb at a rate higher than inflation, a trend that is likely to intimidate potential candidates.

Large contributions dominate fundraising, a trend that undermines public trust. For example, a four-election cycle analysis of legislative contributions shows that 71 percent of general election fundraising came in contributions of $1,001 or more.

Large contributions that comprise large percentages of total fundraising.

undermine public confidence and raise the possibility of perceived corruption. For example, a member of the House received one contribution that comprised 53 percent of total fundraising.

Donations of $100 or less are overshadowed by big contributions.

The number of Oregonians who contribute to candidates in state races is estimated to be no more than 0.8 percent of the almost 2.8 million eligible voters in our state.

The role of leadership PACs in legislative fundraising is increasing and contributes to the need for pass through restrictions

Not all PACs are created equal and encouragement of fundraising targeted to small donors and provisions to encourage volunteer campaign activity is appropriate.

“Double giving” donations to leadership PACs of both parties account for 30 percent of total fundraising by these four groups from 2000 through 2008. This indicates that a significant number of donors make contributions that appear more about ensuring access than ideological commitment.

The top fundraiser typically wins and money in politics is one element in uncompetitive elections. For example, the top fundraiser in 2008 legislative general elections won 92 percent of the time.

“Action would build public trust and reform proposals should enhance volunteer activities and empower small donors,” said Henry Kraemer, Political Coordinator at the Bus Project.

Click here to read the full report.

Click here for report appendices.

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Note: Democracy Reform Oregon became Common Cause Oregon in August 2009.