Mayor Ted Wheeler Won’t Use City’s New Public Campaign Financing Mechanism

The incumbent will fund his campaign with private donations. His leading opponent, Sarah Iannarone, is pursuing public funding.

Mayor Ted Wheeler today said he will not seek public funding for his campaign for re-election next year.

Here's the statement Wheeler released through his campaign this morning:

"Many have asked if I will participate in Portland's new public financing system. While I support the intent of the program, I will not be opting in for this election. What I do not want to do is to divert limited taxpayer dollars to a newly-formed program at a time when we are asking more from our public employees, non-profit partners and law enforcement in the face of so many pressing challenges. In my last campaign, thousands of Portland residents from all walks of life stepped up to support our effort. I am committed to a grassroots fundraising approach this time around as well."

The 2020 cycle will be the first for the new system of public financing, which requires candidates to both limit the source of their donations—only individuals can give, not businesses or organizations such as labor unions—and the amount of those donations, in exchange for matching funds from the city.

Here's more about how the program works.

Wheeler's leading opponent, Sarah Iannarone, has begun the process of qualifying the the six-to-one match the program provides candidates on donations of up to $50.

Wheeler's deputy campaign manager, Amy Rathfelder, says Wheeler will release information about whether and how he will limit contributions "in the next few days."

Wheeler's previous contributions are already the subject of considerable scrutiny. This week, he said he would give away $16,000 in past donations from Gordon Sondland, the Portland hotelier turned diplomat at the center of a presidential impeachment investigation.

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