Oregon’s still the Wild West when it comes to political contributions—one of just five states with no limits on campaign contributions. But Honest Elections Oregon, an advocacy group opposed to the tsunami of campaign cash, has triumphed here. For the first time, following Honest Elections’ wins at the ballot box, both the city of Portland and Multnomah County will run the 2022 election cycle under new laws. The limits—$500 per donor in county races and $508 in city races—also prohibit corporate contributions and require more disclosure than before.
That’s a huge change from previous practice, when candidates routinely collected checks of $2,500 and much more. The city’s program also allows for matching funds of up to 6 to 1 on the first $50 a donor gives. That makes small donors more consequential and levels the playing field for new or lesser-known candidates, because the city’s limits also cap the amount of money a candidate can spend.
Jason Kafoury, a Portland lawyer and one of the organizers of Honest Elections, says that’s a big deal: “With so many states moving to weaken their local democracies, our local community has made big strides to remove the influence of big money and force transparency of donors.”
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