July 2nd, 2012 | by NIGEL JAQUISS News | Posted In: PDX Votes, City Hall, Politics

Jefferson Smith Raising Money Above Hales' Limits

news2-jefferson-smith_3748Jefferson Smith - IMAGE: Morgan Green-Hopkins

There has not been much campaign finance activity in the mayor's race since one candidate, former City Commissioner Charlie Hales, announced on June 21 that he'd limit contributions to $600 and would not take out-of-state checks.

His opponent in the November general election, State Rep. Jefferson Smith (D-Portland), often spoke during the primary about the need to limit contributions.

"Elections should not be auctions," Smith writes on his website.

"I have been and would continue to be more active than just about any current elected official in advocating for campaign finance reform."

Despite being the candidate who made limiting contributions an issue in the race—and who in the primary declined to take checks from out-of-state corporations or political action committees—Smith has not agreed to limit his contributions or stop taking out of state money from individuals.

On July 1, Smith's campaign posted 26 contributions that either exceed $600 or come from out-of-state individuals, totaling $71,300.

Of those checks, six, including two from out of state, were written after Hales' June 21 pledge to limit contributions.

Smith says his recent fundraising represents prudence, rather than hypocrisy. First, he notes, because candidates are currently allowed to 30 days to report contributions, it's possible that Hales raised a large amount of money in the month after the primary but has not yet disclosed it.

Agreeing to Hales' limits without knowing what Hales has in his campaign account thus could be a tactical mistake.

"I'm not in a hurry," Smith says. "I kind of want to know what Charlie is up to."

Smith says he still wants to strike an agreement that limits contributions to $500; prohibits independent expenditures (which Hales did not do); and limits the total amount a candidate can spend.

"If we limit contributions without limiting overall spending, you just spend more time fundraising," Smith says.

Still Smith acknowledges that having raised the issue of limits in the first place, he needs to respond to Hales' jumping ahead on contribution limits.

"Obviously we are going to do something," Smith says. "Probably at the end of this week or beginning of next."
 
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