June 10th, 2014 | by NIGEL JAQUISS News | Posted In: Legislature, Politics

Even the Oregon State Bar Has to Pay to Play in Salem

oregonstatebar
Oregon's loosely regulated campaign finance laws—which allow any party to give as much as they want to any candidate, committee or cause—sometimes create eyebrow-raising contributions.

Here's the latest example: a $2,500 contribution this week by the Oregon State Bar to the House Republican caucus, which is called the Promote Oregon Leadership PAC.

That transaction is puzzling because the Bar primarily exists to license and regulate Oregon's more than 14,000 lawyers.

Although the Bar is a public corporation and does not receive any taxpayer funding, in function it is more like the state's Department of Environmental Quality than a trade organization such the Oregon Business Association, which advocates for its members' financial interests.

Bar spokeswoman Kateri Walsh, says her organization began contributing to the caucus PACs of both major parties in 2010. Records show those contributions began at $1,000 per year for each PAC and increased in 2011 to $2,500 per PAC per year. Walsh says the Bar always gives equally to the four caucuses and never to individual candidates.

Walsh says the contributions are the cost of entry.

"The contributions have the sole objective of allowing us access to the process," she says, "so we can continue to support legislation moving us towards fair and equal access to the justice system."
 
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