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Complaint Filed with City Auditor Says Mayor Ted Wheeler’s Campaign Disregards Portlanders’ Wish to Cap Contributions

Last November, Portlanders passed a measure that capped individual campaign contributions at $500. But it's not in effect.

A complaint filed today with the Portland City Auditor alleges Mayor Ted Wheeler's re-election campaign accepted nearly a dozen individual donations above the city's allowed threshold of $500—a standard that isn't being legally enforced.

In Nov. 2018, Portland voters approved a ballot measure that capped individual campaign donations at $500. But it was immediately challenged in the courts and is currently halted as the measure undergoes court proceedings regarding its constitutionality.

Last month, Wheeler said in a statement he would follow the same contribution limits that federal candidates are bound by, which are ten times higher than what Portland voters wanted.

The measure, currently not in effect, would also forbid campaigns from accepting corporate donations. The complaint, filed by Portland campaign-finance reform advocate Ron Buel, alleges Wheeler's campaign has accepted four corporate donations.

"We are mystified at the actions of Mayor Wheeler, who is not above a law that is the will of the people," Buel said in a statement. "His Portland City Attorney has filed briefs in court supporting the constitutionality and validity of [the measure]. We do not understand why he is choosing not to comply with voters' clear desire."

Oregon does not place any caps on election contributions.

The highest individual contributions listed in the complaint came from three separate donors at $5,000 apiece. That amount is the cap for federal candidates accepting individual contributions.

A spokesperson for the Wheeler campaign tells WW that "Our campaign is committed to transparency and disclosure, and we are operating within the current law."