Opponents of Measure 103 Rebuff Threats of Legal Action Against Their Supporters

A letter from a Stoll Berne attorney asks for an "apology and retraction" from backers of a broad measure that would ban a tax on "groceries."

In a response to an unusually aggressive campaign move, opponents of an Oregon constitutional amendment that would ban grocery taxes are asking for an "apology and retraction" from a supporters of Measure 103.

The fight began over the measure began when Jill Gibson, a lawyer for the Yes on Measure 103 campaign, sent a cease-and-desist letter on Sept. 10—not to the opposing campaign but to the coalition of groups who've signed onto the no campaign. Gibson's letter accused the groups of violating state election law by making inaccurate representations about the impact's possible impacts beyond groceries, including on the Medicaid taxes and transportation package passed last year by the legislature.

Related: Measure 103 Will Ban Grocery Taxes. What Else Will it Do?

In a response letter dated Sept. 18, Steven Berman, an attorney with Stoll Berne, accuses the proponents of seeking "to exploit" state election law "to silence public debate."

The letter argues litigation against coalition members would, in turn, result in "sanctions" because many of the coalition members have made none of the statements alleged in Gibson's letter.

"Democracy and free speech do not allow one side to determine what information is provided to voters," Berman writes. "We await your client's apology and retraction."

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