With New Secretary of State, Oregonians Will Get Greater Transparency on Campaign Finance Violations

LaVonne Griffin-Valade will publish a searchable monthly list. That information was a flash point for a previous elections director.

SIGNING IN: Oregon Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade. (Oregon Secretary of State's Office.)

Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade announced today that the Elections Division will now publish a searchable list of campaign finance violations monthly.

Other states, including California, Colorado and Washington, have long made such data public, informing voters which candidates posted contributions and expenditures late or incorrectly.

As WW reported earlier this year, the state’s former elections director, Deborah Scroggin, pushed for Oregon to publish such violations.

Related: The State Elections Director Advocated for Compliance and Investigations. Her Boss Says She “Didn’t Get It.”

Scroggin told WW that she had pushed for data about campaign finance violations to go live throughout 2022, but that then-Secretary of State Shemia Fagan and her top managers delayed the launch.

“The idea was opposed by executive staff repeatedly,” Scroggin said in January. “The Elections Division was told most recently in late November it wouldn’t be moving forward with the page in January and that it wasn’t a customer service-friendly approach.” Fagan said she supported the project but wanted to get through the 2022 election cycle without distracting elections staff with new initiatives.

But it turned out it was Fagan who got distracted with new initiatives. What we now know is that in February, she signed a previously undisclosed $10,000-a-month consulting contract with an affiliate of the troubled cannabis firm La Mota, itself a top donor to Oregon’s leading Democrats. When WW revealed that contract in May, Fagan resigned.

At the end of June, Kotek appointed Griffin-Valade, a former city of Portland auditor to succeed her, and less than two months later, the campaign violation website Scroggin wanted is a reality.

Ben Morris, a spokesman for Griffin-Valade, says Fagan had put the transparency website in motion early this year but wanted to expand training materials and instruction for campaigns before taking the site live. The work was completed in July, Morris adds, and is being rolled out now as Griffin-Valade has had time to get up to speed in her new position.

The Elections Division has also added a new full-time investigator for complaints that have grown more numerous in recent years. That was also something Scroggin pushed for and Fagan requested from the Legislature before resigning.

Scroggin, who is now back at the city of Portland overseeing city elections, commented in a personal capacity on her former employer finally posting campaign violations. She says the new site is well done.

“I was very glad to see this project cross the finish line,” Scroggin says. “It’s a great step forward.”

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