April 29th, 2010 | by NIGEL JAQUISS News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Politics, CLEAN UP

Oregon Supreme Court Rules Prominent Portland Developer Must Face New Trial

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Tom Moyer is back on the hot seat. Moyer has been in the news lately because the city-owned Portland Development Commission is considering relocating from its Old Town headquarters to a partially-built downtown office on which Moyer halted construction in 2009.

But Moyer is in the news today for suffering a legal reversal in a battle that involves a relative pittance but has major implications for Oregon's campaign finance laws, which are among the most lax in the country.

Following the 2004 Portland mayoral campaign, the Multnomah County District Attorney charged Moyer, a downtown developer who built the Fox Tower among other city landmarks, with disguising the fact that he was the source of $4,500 in campaign contributions to then-mayoral candidate Jim Francesconi.

The D.A. charged Moyer with giving the contributions in the name of his daughter and an employee, which allegedly violate the law. Multnomah County Court Judge John Wittmayer found in Moyer's favor. The state appealed that decision. And in 2009, the Oregon Court of Appeals reversed Wittmayer's decision. Moyer then appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court. Today, the Court issued a decision agreeing with the Court of Appeals' reversal and sending the case back to Multnomah County for re-consideration.

Here's a statement from the state's top elections official, Secretary of State Kate Brown, on the Supreme Court Decision:


SALEM -- Secretary of State Kate Brown praised Thursday's Oregon Supreme Court ruling
upholding a state ban on concealing the true identity of campaign contributors.


“This is a big victory for all Oregonians,” Brown said. “Oregon has a long tradition of letting the
public know who is paying the bills for political campaigns, and requiring that disclosure to be
honest and accurate. This unanimous ruling ensures we will continue to know which interests are
backing candidates and measures. This information is critical for voters and the public.
Transparency in campaign finance won big today.”


Oregon, Brown added, has no limits on campaign contributions or expenditures but requires
thorough transparency in the campaign finance system.


In the case, Portland developer Tom Moyer was charged with giving money to a granddaughter
and to an employee to be used as contributions to Jim Francesconi's 2004 unsuccessful campaign
for Portland mayor. The donations totaled $4,500.


The law, ORS 260.402, says, “No person shall make a contribution to any other person, relating
to a nomination or election of any candidate or the support or opposition to any measure, in any
name other than that of the person who in truth provides the contribution.”


Moyer challenged the law, saying it violated his free-speech rights. In arguing before the
Supreme Court, the Oregon Attorney General's office said overruling the law would mean
misrepresenting the true identity of campaign contributors.


In his opinion for the court, Chief Justice Paul J. De Muniz agreed.

“Prohibiting the concealment of the identity of the true provider of a political contribution from
either the recipient of the contribution, the public, or both, is, we conclude, an extension or
modern variant of the initial principle that underlies the historic legal prohibition against
deceptive or misleading expression.“


Brown said the ruling means Oregonians will continue to know who is behind the political
system.


“Oregonians need to know who's paying the bills in our political system,” Brown said. “The
courts have upheld good government.”

 
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