Portland's Top Restaurants Donating to Pass Driver's Card Measure 88

Donors include Bollywood Theater, Bunk Bar and Pine State Biscuits.

With ballots arriving in Oregon mailboxes this week, millions of dollars are pouring into ballot measures that would label genetically modified foods, change the state's primary elections and legalize recreational marijuana.

But one hot-button issue isn't drawing big donations: Measure 88, which would authorize giving four-year driver's cards to people who can't prove they are in the United States legally.

The "yes" campaign on Measure 88 has reported just $420,582 in contributions. The "no" campaign, which WW profiled earlier this month, has raised a mere $37,446.

That's because the measure is likely doomed. Polling conducted for Oregon Public Broadcasting this month confirms what political insiders have whispered for months: Measure 88 is trailing by 29 percentage points.

Yet one coalition continues to donate to the measure. And it's noteworthy because the list of donors looks more like a page from WW's Restaurant Guide than the usual political funders.

The donors to Measure 88 are Portland restaurants.  

Pine State Biscuits, Bunk BarSimpatica, Mississippi Pizza and Pambiche have all given $500 this month. Biwa has contributed $250, while Boke Bowl chipped in $150. The Por Que No? Taqueria chain gave $675.   

The biggest spender is Indian restaurant Bollywood Theater, which contributed $1,000.

The hospitality industry is among the biggest employers of undocumented immigrants, and the state restaurant lobby has been a vocal supporter of Measure 88. Without a legal way to drive to work, supporters argue, their workers risk losing their jobs and hurting the businesses that employ them.

"Providing a safe and legal way for all Oregonians to drive is good for Oregon's economy and our families," says Caroline Fitchett, spokeswoman for Safe Roads Yes on 88. "Individual restaurants along with the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association stand with thousands of Oregonians including faith leaders, labor unions, businesses, teachers and farmers in support of Measure 88."

To see who these restauranteurs are up against, read WW's cover story on Oregonians for Immigration Reform—a group that says all undocumented immigrants should leave the country or be deported.