What’s the Real Story Behind a Fight Over Campaign Finance Reform?

A group called Honest Elections Oregon is squaring off against Oregon’s secretary of state.

Casting a ballot by bike in Portland. (Brian Burk)

Willamette Week has been doing some serious gymnastics recently. While the cover story this week was a love letter to Portland, celebrating the best our city has to offer, the leading news stories of the week paint a picture of our state wrapped in hard-elbowed politics.

There is a battle brewing. A group called Honest Elections Oregon is squaring off against Oregon’s secretary of state. Honest Elections is trying to get a measure on the ballot that limits the amount that one person or organization can donate to a candidate. But in order to get that idea in front of voters, the reformers need Secretary of State Shemia Fagan to certify the language of the measure. Secretary Fagan took issue with the filing and sent the measure back to the drawing board.

The campaign finance petitioners say something is rotten. They point to Fagan benefiting from labor unions writing big checks—something they wouldn’t be able to do if this measure was passed. Fagan replies that the measure simply doesn’t follow the requirements established by law.

And that, my friends, is only the beginning.

On this week’s episode of Willamette Week’s podcast, we interview reporter Anthony Effinger. Anthony tells us about this standoff, where it’s at right now, and answers my questions about the things that just don’t add up.

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