Common Sense Campaign Finance

Earlier today, a new campaign finance initiative was filed with the Secretary of State. Sponsored by Rep. Peter Buckley (D-Ashland), former Rep. Larry Perry (D-Eugene), and former AP capitol reporter Chuck Beggs, the measure is known as the "Common Sense Campaign Finance" measure. [Previously, Buckley withdrew his support for other campaign finance efforts currently collecting signatures.]

The complete text of the proposed constitutional amendment:

The Constitution of the State of Oregon is amended by creating a new section 25 to be added to and made a part of Article II, such section to read:

Section 25. (1) A corporation or labor organization may not make a contribution from treasury funds to any candidate for nomination or election to state or local public office, or to any political committee supporting or opposing a candidate for nomination or election to state or local public office.

(2) In a calendar year, an individual may not contribute an aggregate amount exceeding $15,000 to all candidates for nomination or election to state or local public office and all other political committees supporting or opposing a candidate for nomination or election to state or local public office. This subsection does not apply to contributions made from the personal funds of a candidate to the candidate.

(3) For each calendar year, the Secretary of State, by rule, shall adjust the amount of the aggregate contribution limit described in subsection (2) of this section to account for changes in consumer prices. The secretary shall use an official indicator of consumer prices and round the adjusted amount to the closest dollar.

More details after the jump....

From the press release:

“For campaign finance reform to work, it must be simple and clear,” Buckley said. “This initiative is but a few short paragraphs, but it would fundamentally change Oregon politics by putting an end to a system dominated by large corporations and a handful of super-rich individuals.”

“Big-money political campaigns have badly undermined democracy in Oregon,” Perry stated. “The moneyed interests have diminished the role of ordinary citizens in their own government. People distrustful and skeptical of a system awash in money are non-participants.”

Regarding the other two measures on the street:

The “Common Sense Campaign Finance Reform” will join two other campaign finance reform efforts, Petitions 8 and 37, in the signature-gathering arena this year. Buckley was an early proponent and a chief petitioner for Petition 37, but announced his opposition to the proposal following months of discussions with individuals throughout the state, legal consultants, and organizations such the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, and a number of grassroots political groups.

“Petition 37 has a potential to backfire in very significant ways,” Buckley explained. “Every attorney I have spoken to has stated that at least two of its key provisions will be challenged and overturned by the courts, and if that should happen, the campaign system left in place would have the exact opposite result of what is desired with reform—it would actually provide significantly greater advantages to wealthy candidates and wealthy political players.”

On the chance for success:

“It took 18 months, but I think we finally got the language right,” Buckley explained. “We want to make sure that the changes we make are effective as well as legally sound. I’m confident that if we can get the initiative on the ballot, it will pass. And if we get it passed it will be a significant step in the direction the vast majority of Oregonians want to go in—campaigns that are less expensive, fairer and more representative of the people of our state.”

Buckley acknowledges that gathering the required signatures prior to the July 2 deadline will be a significant challenge.

“To succeed in bringing about real reform, we need to all work together,” said Buckley. “In filing this petition, we call upon campaign finance advocates to unite around the Common Sense Campaign Finance Reform Initiative – a clear, workable proposal that the voters of Oregon can endorse in good conscience.”

Discuss.

Comments

  • JB (unverified)
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    Here is the only thing that confuses me, why we alsways talk about limiting where our money comes from but never limiting how much profit some one can make off of us. we all intrinsically want there to be campaign finance laws that reduce the power of individuals with large bank accounts, but i always say if you want to reduce the influence of money in politics reduce the need for money in politics. Making it hard to raise money doesn't mean that money is any less important it just means that a politician has to spend more time on the phone raising money or that unions will form 527's or pacs or 50c4s and so on. How about free air time, public finacing, campaign spending limits and other things that make money less important not harder raise.

  • Rodney King (unverified)
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    So let me get this straight: Buckley was a chief petitioner on #37, but is now opposed to the measure because he thinks it will backfire when its limits on independent expenditures are overturned.

    But other folks won't give up #37, so now we have the left divided on campaign finance reform, which ought to be an issue we can unite around.

    Can't we all just get along?

  • (Show?)

    Pretty much this is an argument between the folks who don't want anything unless they can craft the perfect end-all-be-all measure (in their view) -- and the folks who want to successfully take a first step, make it a solid one, and then build on that success.

  • JTT (unverified)
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    Rodney- The left is not devided on campaign finance reform. All of the major progressive organizations (unions, coalitions, etc.) in the state, including the Democratic Party, oppose P37. It's just really bad policy.

    JB- Do you really think that individuals should be able to write $700,000 checks?(to Mannix in 2002) If you read the text of the measure, the limit on individuals is $15k per year (adjusted to inflation). Come on $15 big ones? What average voter contributes more than $15k/year to politicians? Sounds reasonable to me. While I too support public financing, the state on the whole isn't ready for it. This seems to be a logical first step in the right direction.

    Furthermore, Oregon currently does not have ANY restrictions on campaign contributions. We are one of only 6 (or is it 5) states with NO campaign limits.

  • Down with 37 (unverified)
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    Three cheers for Buckley!

    At least he figured out that the history of CFR is littered with overly complicated reform that ends up making things worse.

    We never would have had Swift Vote Veterans for Truth without McCain Feingold, for instance.

    Petition 37 is awful for more reasons than he points out. We do need contribution limits In Oregon, but not a soviet-style regime that seeks to proscribe what everyone can say and do in politics.

    It would take away the voice of progressive non-profits by severely limiting what they can say and do to educate voters on elections.

    It would give the right a huge advantage by letting so called small donor committees which receive contributions of $50 or less (like Oregon Right to Life PAC) spend whatver they want, while prohibiting political non-profits like NARAL from raising more than $500 from any donor. (So much for paid staff.)

    It would require political donors to actually register in advance with the state and receive an ID number --Patriot Act, anyone?-- so their actions can be tracked.

    Finally, it does nothing to stop the flow of money into ballot measures, which is where the fight is these days.

    Seems like Buckley's measure is a step in the right direction. Here's hoping the left will jump on board and not throw up their hands at the confusion between Buckley's old petition #37 and the new Common Sense petition.

  • TM (unverified)
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    Patty is that you? Folks, literally every example stated in the post by "Down with 37" is false, and is unfortunately part of a coordinated smear campaign by an organization calling itself "Our Oregon". If you would like to get the facts on the matter, visit Fair Elections Oregon's webiste at www.fairelections.net.

  • Progvoice (unverified)
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    Kari Chisholm -

    and the folks who want to successfully take a first step, make it a solid one, and then build on that success.

    I wouldn't call putting all the language of the measure into the constitution a first step. I would call opening the door to campaign finance via the constitution (Petition 8,) and drafting language that closes the loop holes (Petition 37.) A good way to start the experiment.

    JTT-

    All of the major progressive organizations (unions, coalitions, etc.) in the state, including the Democratic Party, oppose P37. It's just really bad policy.

    None of these Orgs have stated that they oppose as yet. Where are you getting this information? Bad policy? Please explain how.

    What average voter contributes more than $15k/year to politicians??

    Tom Moyer for one. In fact he could funnel money to candidates as he has in the past through his secretary, grandaughter, other family etc... enough to surpass any real limitations. And you don't think that other weathly (and right wing,) people wouldn't do the same? You don't think that money would pour in from all over in 15k increments? How would that help progessive causes? Low limits are the key to blocking that loophole. I for one would love to see a day when candidates would have to appeal one-on-one to Oregonians to get those small checks and votes.

    Down with 37-

    It would give the right a huge advantage by letting so called small donor committees which receive contributions of $50 or less (like Oregon Right to Life PAC) spend whatver they want, while prohibiting political non-profits like NARAL from raising more than $500 from any donor. (So much for paid staff.)

    Please explain why NARAL and gang could not set up small donor commities. Do you know how much Oregon Right to Life PAC has spent on canditate campaigns compared to corporations? It doesn't even register on a graph.

    The rest of your comments seem geared to inflame or mislead so I won't even respond.

    Regardless, it seems unlikely that Peter's Contitutional Ammendment will even be able to garnish the requisite signatures in time to make the ballot without heroic levels of money. I'd be interested in seeing what special interest will fund that. I'd also like to see who will collect the sigs for that. I guess he could go to Ted Blasak who just took $350k from corps to counter public funding of elections. He's a friend of the unions too.

  • Ron Ledbury (unverified)
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    Facially unconstitutional with this very utterance "labor organization[.]"

    Who drafts these things?

    The US Constitution's First Amendment already has a dividing line, and that is the absence of the advocacy of violence.

    The right of association is right there in the First Amendment too. And an association to do nothing more than rant or rave about a candidate would be about as "core" as one could possibly come to the notion of retaining the individual right to tell the government to go jump in a lake.

    I would hope that our lives are not supposed to be fully consumed with saving and consumption for its own sake, and that we must confine our dollar investment in the political process. Why not target something even remotely closer to being wealth neutral . . . say limiting ones participation to 500 hours in a given year. But then we would get to realize our scarcity of free time, like maybe 2 hours per week for most folks if they fight to make time. So to be fair and even handed to the poor and free-time-rich we could further restrict it to 100 hours of whatever in a given year. And then who would monitor the limit on the hours? You guys are crazy.

    While the corporate form of organization must necessarily involve consent to statutory conditions to avail themselves of limited liability a labor organization does not need to have filed anything with the state. A bargaining unit, without an affiliation with any other entity, can surely speak collectively, and even create effigies of their opponent to fire up in the heat of a strike, out on the street. And then the issue is whether it is a fire hazard or not. It is not whether it is a fire hazard, but only if it was a labor organization that started it.

    Labor needs no enemies with friends like these at their side.

    Suppose that the OEA and the NEA agree to accept the restrictions on individual liberties, for political expediency reasons. That will tell me more about their organization, and their legal representatives, than the proposed initiative.

    If you don't believe me then go get a copy of the my Articles of Incorporation for Associated Portland Educators (via pdxape.us) and trot on over to the offices of the recognized top civil liberties advocate in this state and ask him. You will save yourself some money.

  • activist kaza (unverified)
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    As much as I appreciate Peter Buckley and his positions on many issues, I am VERY disappointed with him on this one. Backing away from 37 (presumably due to union pressure) and introducing this alternative which is: (a) tepid; (b) likely unconstitutional in its own right; and (c) has no chance of making it to the ballot this year...smells a lot like a plan to divide and conquer!

    Progressives should unite around 8/37 and read the language at their website before believing any of the nonsense that opponents throw out ("soviet-style regime"...puhleez!).

    Can anybody give me a good reason why individuals should be able to give $15k in an Oregon race (allowable under Buckley's measure) when you can give only $4,000 to a Federal candidate (House, Senate, Prez.)? Does this really sound campaign finance reform?

  • (Show?)

    Unfortunately, Petition 150 would be completely ineffective in limiting corporate or union money going to elect or defeat candidates.

    First, it authorizes only limits on funds contributed directly to candidates or political committees. It does not authorize any limits on independent expenditures. Thus, any corporation that wishes to support Cindy Smith for office remains perfectly free to use infinite funds to promote Cindy Smith in TV ads, radio ads, newspapers, and all other media. They do not even have to identify themselves in any of the ads, because the Oregon Legislature repealed the political "tagline" requirement just a few years back. Even if independent spenders did need to identify themselves, they could use a nice name, like the "Better Government Committee." The result will be essentially identical to making contributions directly to Cindy Smith's campaign, and big money will continue to dominate elections in Oregon.

    The U.S. Supreme Court in 1990 upheld Michigan's ban on independent expenditures by corporations to support or oppose candidates (Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce). In 2005, the Court reiterated that position in upholding the McCain-Feingold limits on the federal level and extended it to unions. The Court stated: "Congress’ power to prohibit corporations and unions from using funds in their treasuries to finance advertisements expressly advocating the election or defeat of candidates in federal elections has been firmly embedded in our law." 124 S. Ct. at 694. That also means that states can do the same, under the First Amendment.

    Yet, Petition 150 does not attempt to allow limits on independent expenditures. Petition 8, on the other hand, authorizes the Legislature and the people using the initiative process to limit independent expenditures, because it authorizes limits on "contributions and expenditures, of any type or description, to influence the outcome of any election."

    Second, a major problem with Petition 150 is that it leaves large gaps in defining entities that can be limited. It allows only restrictions on "a corporation or labor organization" or "an individual." What about entities that are not corporations or labor organizations, such as unincorporated groups or associations? Petition 150 would not allow any limits on such organizations (including, for example, sole proprietorships, partnerships, limited partnerships, associations, joint ventures, clubs, groups), as long as those entities have money.

    Third, Petition 150 expressly does not limit use of a candidate's personal wealth. If its other limits were in any way effective, the result would be reserving important public offices for those wealthy enough to personally fund their own campaigns. Note that limits on use of personal wealth are already law in Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Michigan, Nevada, Tennessee, and West Virginia (according to the Federal Election Commission's survey of state laws). Washington also has a limit but it kicks in only during the last 21 days of the campaign.

    Fourth, Petition 150 uses many terms that it does not define. This will allow the Legislature to define those terms as it likes. Since the Legislature in power whenever this amendment would take effect would consist of those elected under the current system of big money and no limits, those officeholders will almost certainly want to avoid limits (just like the Massachusetts legislature in 2003 repealed that state's campaign finance reform law on a voice vote). If they wished to continue to receive direct contributions from corporations and unions (in addition to benefiting from their unlimited independent expenditures), they could simply pass a statute allowing entities that are not "political committees" to expend funds supporting or opposing candidates. Call those entities "democracy cooperatives," and the limits in Petition 150 do not apply (because Petition 150 allows only limits on contributions to a candidate or a "political committee," without defining that term).

    I would prefer a constitutional amendment that would be effective in limiting big money in Oregon politics. That is Petition 8, which reads:

    "Notwithstanding any other provision of this Constitution, the    people through the initiative process, or the Legislative Assembly by a three-fourths vote of both Houses, may enact and amend laws to prohibit or limit contributions and expenditures, of any type or description, to influence the outcome of any election."
    

    More information is available at: FairElections Oregon

  • (Show?)

    I see comments above about Petition 37, the detailed campaign finance reform statute now on the streets.

    For a complete response to those comments, check out FairElections Facts (response to "Our Oregon")

  • Down with 37 (unverified)
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    A smear campaign? Oh my! No need to start calling names ("patty" seems to be a particularly vicious smear!) Although I do trust Our Oregon over some anonymous web blog, and their information was useful as I started researching the measure.

    But by all means, read the text of the measure on the fair elections site. I did. All 8,278 words of it. Or, just look at this convoluted chart they put up to make it all seem so simple:

    http://www.fairelections.net/pet37chart.pdf

    Or, just read the Albany Democrat Herald, which I found online:

    http://www.democratherald.com/articles/2005/12/04/news/opinion/edit01.t

    Welcome to the Gulag!

  • (Show?)

    I believe that Buckley's new CFR is a great first step and is much more likely to pass than M37 will.

    Representatives with the Democratic Party have already come out against M37. Many progressive and labor organizations have stated they are against it as well. I've heard quite a bit of opposition to it at the meetings I go to-- and that's amongst the Democrat/progressive community.

    Do I think the measure goes far enough? No.

    Do I think it's a really good start? Yes.

    That's one of the things that has driven me crazy about Dems over the past decade-- if you can't get it all at once, then it's not good enough.

    Do you think that's how the Republicans went about taking over the country? No. It took the Christian Coalition type R's 15 years to take over their party and then 15 to take over the country.

    Change isn't made overnight, nor is it made in one huge step.

    Sometimes you've got to make a small change, let people see how that small change helped, and then make another small change.

    And before anyone starts attacking me-- I'm not with any labor organization, nor Our Oregon. I originally felt lukewarm support for 8/37-- I even did some paid work for the organization that put it forth. However, the more I thought on it, the more I realized that it was too much at once and would likely fail at the ballots.

  • TM (unverified)
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    Down with 37 wrote: "Welcome to the Gulag!"

    What's that supposed to mean anyway? We'll okay, I went to the Albany Democrat Herald to check out the op-ed you referenced. Here's my favorite part:

    "Most people might be inclined to favor a limit or a ban on contributions made by fat cats in order to get favors in the legislative process. But the facts of life are that big money will find a way to affect the political process one way or another."

  • Patty (unverified)
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    "Patty is that you?"

    LOL. No, TM (if that's your real name), it isn't me. I've been too busy looking at the contribution and expenditure reports for the ballot measures. I don't post on BlueOregon anonymously. When I've got something to say, you'll know it's me.

    For example: Where are are the C & E reports for the 8 and 37 campaigns? They were due yesterday. The Statesman Journal reports that they weren't turned in. Did you guys turn them in today so late that they haven't been posted? (FreedomWorks turned theirs in today and they're online.)

    The current campaign finance laws are there to add transparency to the system. That's why there are legal deadlines that even Bill Sizemore right-wing meets.

    Would I being too coy by half to make the point that the 8 and 37 backers say they want to reform Oregon's campaign laws yet they aren't meeting the ones that are already in place? Maybe. But I'm going to say it anyway.

    Patty

  • Bill Hooker (unverified)
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    The "common sense" petition: I cannot see a way past Dan's arguments against this. It is simply too weak to have any effect.

    P8: strikes me as an essential first step

    P37: seems reasonable to me on first read. The most damning criticism was Peter Buckley's "at least two of its key provisions will be challenged and overturned by the courts, and if that should happen, the campaign system left in place would have the exact opposite result of what is desired". Which two provisions, and on what basis would they be overturned? This is not addressed by FairElections Oregon as far as I can see (I looked around the website and read the "response to Our Oregon" pdf).

  • Rep. Peter Buckley (unverified)
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    Several points here--

    First, why is everybody typing in italics?

    Second, thanks to Kari and Blue Oregon for giving some focus to this issue.

    Third, one thing I very much respect about Dan Meek (besides his constant and tireless work on behalf of all of us who want basic fairness and justice in Oregon) is that he absolutely gets the need for campaign finance reform and has done a great job in defining campaign funding as a plumbing system with the flow of money moving through it. His work on P37 (and people should know he wrote over 35 drafts of the proposal, and constantly sought feedback) is a strong attempt to create a plumbing system that will reduce the amount of water in the system and to funnel it through pipes that are people-powered. His desire for true democracy is what fuels the effort.

    My disagreement with 37 and the push I'm making with 150 is based on that same kind of view of campaign financing as a plumbing system. Petition 37 seeks to create a number of small pipes (individual contributions to campaigns), some medium pipes (independent expenditures, candidates' contributions to their own campaigns, PAC and party donations) and one large pipe (small donor committees). The problem is that virtually every legal consultant who has read 37 says that that plumbing system will be overturned by the courts, that we will end up with a plumbing system instead with huge pipes for independent expenditures and candidates's contributions to their own campaigns, along with the small donor big pipe, and those three pipes will dominate the entire system.

    I can't see that system as being beneficial. I very much back the small donor committee concept, but it cannot, by itself, compete with the major pipes of independent expenditures and personal contributions. I know Dan disagrees, but my view is that if the Oregon Supreme Court is going to uphold pole dancing as protected expression, it is never going to agree to limits on individual independent expenditures or limits on personal contributions to one's own campaign.

    Givent that as a reality, Petition 150, as a first step, proposes a plumbing system with a series of medium sized pipes, small enough to cut out corporate dominance or mega-rich dominance of campaign funding but large enough to protect the system from being overwhelmed the funds flowing through any other pipe.

    Will Petition 150, by itself, clean up the entire system in one fell swoop? Nope. But it will clean the system and regulate it, and set the stage for the next steps that must happen.

    Andrew expressed disappointment that 150 would allow someone to donate up to $15,000 to a single campaign. I also believe that is too much for one individual to donate to a single campaign, even if that means that the individual can't donate to any other campaign that year. Let's go after that next. At present, we have no plumbing system at all, just a free flowing, overwhelming stream of money. The first step is to get it flowing through a defined, fair system. The next step is to upgrade the system with balanced limits on the pipes that the courts will let us limit, while making sure the other pipes don't get too large in the process. The ultimate step, for me, is voter-owned elections, as Portland is trying to bring forth. Petiton 150 compliments that effort in a significant way. It's a great step forward, in my view, and I very much appreciate the time and care given to it over the many months of conversation, proposals and refining.

    Thanks for all of you who care enough to post and debate this as well.

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    Thanks to whoever fixed the italics. It's one of the downsides to not being able to edit your posts-- when someone sees they've left the italics or bold open, they can't easily go back and fix it.

    Rep. Buckley-- I have one quick question.

    Would the individual contribution limits apply to those from out-of-state who contribute to campaigns?

    I hope so, as it was amazing to see the individual contributions of $20,000 to Republican legislative candidates and the Republican PACs for the legislature from the heads of the big payday loan companies.

    It'll also be nice to not see those multi-thousand dollar checks from pharmaceutical companies, telecommunication companies, etc.

    I've recently finished an Excel file that has all the contributions that Minnis received over the past few years. Speaker's PAC and Majority 2004 (now 06) are next. It's something else to see how many $5000, $10,000, $15,000 or $20,000 contributions from the heads of companies and corporations show up in those C&E reports.

  • Rep. Peter Buckley (unverified)
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    Jenni--

    I think the italics are still on...

    The $15,000 cap applies to everyone, no matter if they live within the state or not. Just to be clear, though, this is only the first step. We will still need to push forward in 2008, 2010, and so on to get to the kind of system we need.

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    Odd... the italics have disappeared at the bottom for me.

    I'm glad to hear it applies to everyone.

    And you're right, it's a first step. We can't then stop working on the issue just because we move forward a step. We keep working on it until it is the best system it can be.

    I get tired of people shooting down ballot measures or legislation just because it doesn't do everything. Instead of looking at it that way, we should look at it this way:

    Does it forward the cause, whether it be CFR, environmental protection, consumer protection, etc.?

    Is it a step in the right direction?

    Would we be better off with those changes than what we have now?

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    <h1>8 and #37 sponsors/supporters: Are you going to self-impose contribution limits of $15,000 or under to qualify and pass your initiatives?</h1>
  • Progvoice (unverified)
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    <h1>8 and #37 sponsors/supporters: Are you going to self-impose</h1>

    contribution limits of $15,000 or under to qualify and pass your initiatives?

    Well since the point of the measure is to create a level playing field, it would be assinine to hold your self to a standard that your opponents won't. I would think that with the corporate money that is going to flow in against this, it would be unwise to work that way.

    If it's a matter of "principles," this measure only affects candidate campaigns, not initiatives, so there is no connect. There are suitable and numerous roadblocks to initiative qualification as it is.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Backing away from 37 (presumably due to union pressure) and introducing this alternative which is: (a) tepid; (b) likely unconstitutional in its own right; and (c) has no chance of making it to the ballot this year...smells a lot like a plan to divide and conquer!

    Kaza: where do you get your presumption of union pressure? As I understand it, there were rural Democratic chairs worried that the Lonsdale-supported measure would make people spend more time than they do now dialing for dollars because the limits were too low (would they be so low that a contribution wouldn't pay for the gas for a trip around a large rural district?).

    I don't know if that is petition 37 or not, but it seems to me that too many people are too willing to demonize unions as the cause of all problems and if only unions went away there would be no problems. Kaza, if that is what you are saying, I wonder if you personally would have provided the resources the unions provided to rein in the excesses of Sizemore et. al? Or are you a Sizemore fan? Or are you one of those who believes in an unregulated paid initiative system because you think being an initiativemeister is an honest way to make a living?I know people who never belonged to unions who have been grateful for restrictions on the initiative business--was making a living off initiatives what Wm. S. U'ren had in mind when he was the father of our current system about a century ago?

    I remember the Measure 9 campaign finance reform measure--the one which passed in all 36 counties and was later struck down. That measure was not perfect, but it proved campaign finance reform could pass in Oregon. But I DO think it matters how the measures are worded, and if Buckley thinks another measure is better worded than an earlier measure, I'm glad he changed his mind.

    Or would Kaza have us believe that any Oregonian who ever had anything to do with any version of a ballot measure was obligated to support it all year even if someone pointed out flaws in the wording? And which union do all the Democratic county chairs belong to? Is it possible some of them are self-employed?

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    I have learned that the C&Es for the chief petitioner committees for Petitions 8 and 37 were sent to the Secretary of State by email today and that the C&E guru was laid up (diagnosis: severe bronchitis, perhaps pneumonia).

    Did "Our Oregon" file a C&E? Does it disclose its sources of funding and amounts for its activities, including opposing the qualification Petitions 8 and 37 for the ballot?

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    I asked earlier: #8 and #37 sponsors/supporters: Are you going to self-impose contribution limits of $15,000 or under to qualify and pass your initiatives?

    Prog responded: Well since the point of the measure is to create a level playing field, it would be assinine to hold your self to a standard that your opponents won't.

    Dan Meek, are you and other sponsors of #8 & #37 willing to limit your contributions to $15K if the other side limits contributions to the same level as well?

  • Ron Ledbury (unverified)
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    Keep it simple.

    No artificial entity that receives tax deductible donations or that receives funds that are not derived directly from individuals with their complete verifiable consent or that can claim the benefit of limited liability under the laws of this state or under the laws of any other state or the federal government shall use any of their resources or their name to support or oppose candidates for elective office.

    Under such a formulation the owner members of Oregon Restaurant Association could themselves form an association of "owners" from their personal resources, their individual after tax personal resources.

    Under such a formulation the individual members of Oregon Education Association could themselves form a parallel association, with funds derived from their individual after tax personal resources.

    A state constitution is a document of limitation, not authorization. The above formulation would limit the ability of the legislature to play favorites in the election process through authorizing the creation of an ever growing, and dizzying, array of artificial entities.

    I see no reason why a rich person should not be free to spend themselves into the poor house by supporting or opposing some candidate or issue, other than their receipt of a loan, in which case the lender should immediately be deemed to have been the contributor.

    I say let the advocates of artificial entities fight those who believe that free speech and our government belongs to individuals. Let them knock themselves out and let them show their true colors as the principal opponents of individual liberty.

  • activist kaza (unverified)
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    LT: Sorry, but I don't get most of your rant against me. I am not "anti-union," and neither are petitions 8 & 37. I believe (rightly or wrongly) that most of the opposition to these petitions is not with the average Joe but coming from organizations (including unions) with a vested interest in keeping the status quo. Unfortunately, Rep. Buckley (whom I respect enormously) pretty much keeps the status quo intact with his proposed language, IMHO. Of course I respect his right to change his mind as I know he respects my right to disagree with his decision!

    BTW, I am not an "initiativemeister" (whatever that means) or independently wealthy either...

  • visitor (unverified)
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    Why have none of the advocates of contribution limits (whether it is the Petition #8 & #37 style, or the new #150 style) addressed the first comment by JB? It seems like we are engaged in a "drug war" on campaign money without really addressing the so-called "need" for big money in campaigns.

    Why aren't the advocates for contribution/expenditure limits asking who is benefiting by the influx of money in campaigns? It certainly is true that it is not the candidate, nor is it the people. The former would probably rather spend time meeting voters and working on bringing innovative ideas to the table, and the latter doesn't get to know a candidate by the 30-second television commercial or the multiple glossy postcards with a few catch phrases. So where does the money go and why aren't we concerned with that?

    Attempting to turn off the spigot of money without addressing the use/need of the money seems misguided and potentially dangerous.

    We should get answers to these questions before we start amending our constitution and limiting anyone's speech. Before we limit what little (and admittedly, inadequate) public discourse we have during the campaign season, let us innovate the campaigns themselves to reduce their so-called dependence on big money.

    And, in addition to those who advocate campaign limits, perhaps the gracious host of this website, who also runs campaign websites, can help answer these questions. . . .

  • (Show?)

    Have the petitioners gotten a legal opinion on the constitutionality of a $15,000 cap on an individual's "aggregate" contributions to ALL state or local candidates and PACs? This seems very problematic. I don't believe the Supreme Court has approved this type of prohibition on an individual's political activity. The logic that the Court has historically accepted for limits on contributions to a single candidate -- the avoidance of actual or apparent corruption -- does not exist for limiting aggregate contributions.

    I also don't understand the public policy behind the aggregate cap. If I spread my $15,000 around in $1000 contributions to 15 candidates and PACs, what is the harm to society if I want to contribute an additional $25 to one more candidate?

  • Bill Hooker (unverified)
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    Re: italics, I closed 'em for my post and everyone after, but the blog owner must have fixed everything upstream of me. Just put >/i< at the start of your post.

    Rep. Buckley: can you provide more detail on the potential overturn of P37? Which provisions, on what basis?

    JB, visitor: there might be a way around the "freedom of speech" issue in JB's point about campaign spending limits. It seems to be pretty well established that a spending limit is a speech limit, so rather than limit individual speech, why not focus on limiting campaign speech? Just as an individual cannot yell "fire" in a crowded theatre and claim free speech, it does not seem that a candidate for public office can make a strong claim that his/her freedom of speech is unreasonably limited by spending limits, if those same limits apply to all of his/her opponents.

  • Bill Hooker (unverified)
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    I'm a dork: </i>, of course.

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    "The rich have the right to buy more cars than anyone else, more homes, vacations, gadgets and gizmos, but they do not have the right to buy more democracy than anyone else. " -Bill Moyers

    So, init #150 is bad in part because 1) it does not limit personal wealth (Dan Meek, above) 2) it sets a $15K limit that is too high (progvoice, above). But wealthy supporters of #8 and #37 should be entitled to have more than $15K worth of speech, and no limits on the use of persoanl wealth to qualify & pass their initiatives. Even if the other side agrees to limits, is that your position?

    BTW: I do not work with OurOregon and am not speaking for them or their campaign.

  • (Show?)

    i'm not terribly bright on these things, so could someone please explain how 150 limits corporations as it does unions? unions seem to have a blanket limit of zero; individuals just a limit (!) of $15,000. what am i missing?

    2nd, why are we Oregonians so obsessed with (screwing with) our constitution? is this our only option? just reading thru this thread demonstrates how little agreement there is on this topic. perpetrators of initiatives claim they are Voices for Common Sense & Simplicity (and that we Common Citizens should be Grateful and Cooperative, if we know What's Good For Us), and that is rarely the case (well, M36 was pretty frikkin clear). most of these things die in the court because they are badly written; the ones that survive twist existing law into such knots that we lose completely the intent of those who promoted it in the first place.

    granted, our Legislature has a wee problem fixing this sort of thing. how nice if they could pass CFR. and who knows? the right Leg might do so next year. i'm not holding my breath, but i've learned to fear ballot measures at least as much as the Leg. with the latter, i can drop Rep Gelser or Sen Morse an email, have a face-to-face with them, organize constituent pressure to bear on them and their (theoretically recalcitrant) colleagues. with a ballot measure that has been bought and paid into law, i get to sit back and hope the damn thing doesn't explode.

    i hope Portlands Voter-owned Elections work; that's a fix i can endorse. the rest of you scare the hell out of me.

  • Eulia (unverified)
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    If you do not have a copy of the Initiatives 8 and 37 please get printouts at Fairelections.net. Initiative 8 is short and clear allowing establishment of CFR through initiative either by petition or the legislature.

    For 37 read when you have ample time. Direct any questions for complete answers via the contact link at the site. I have heard some supposedly educated people oppose Initiative 37 and it was shamefully obvious they did not have the time to comprehend this initiative fully. If these people are really supporters of CFR they should review each section carefully and direct any questions using the link offered at Fairelections website.

    Approval of corresponding measure to Initiave 37 by vote of the people in November 2006 will immediately replace rampant political corruption that flourishes in Oregon elections now.

    There will be immediate fairness for all voters because they will be able to have genuine influence in who gets elected. The present campaign patterns that insure candidates with the greatest amount of monies will win- with rare exception- will be abolished!

    Furthermore: Fair elections through approval of a corresponding measure to Inititive 37 will enable for a talented candidate with little money from the middle and even lower class to run a fair campaign and to win an election!

    Fair elections is the key to a bright future for Oregonians.

    Initiative 150 does not provide for any fair elections. While a well intended endeavor, it was done in haste. is not thorough, does not try to stop the continuing havoc caused by BIG corporate dollars that pour into our state.

    If you have not signed Inititives 8 and 37 yet as an active registered voter, please make every effort to do so. The power of your signature will help make Oregon whole again! A recent poll shows that overwhelmingly voters will approve campaign finance reform. Visit Fairelections.net. to get the real facts.

  • anonymous (unverified)
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    It's funny that the same people who are saying not to worry about #8 and #37 hurting the choice community are the same geniuses who were telling anyone who'd listen in 2000 that there were no real differences between Bush and Gore.

    Thanks for that great Bush energy policy folks!

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    Both Rep. Buckley and Dan Meek are great guys in my book.

    Buckley believes P37 would be found unconstitutional. Meek doesn't. I'll go with Meek's evaluation, based on his record of getting courts to agree with him.

    Anyone who remembers 1996 should realize that not dealing with independent expenditures is a fatal flaw. Better to support an initiative that MAY be overturned in court than one that will not work if it is upheld in court.

    P8 and P37 are well on their way to making the ballot. I am diappointed that Peter Buckley would file a petition that, if it makes the ballot, will confuse voters who want campaign finance reform.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    t.a.,

    The overturn of 1996's CFR measure makes a constitutional ammendment a necessity to set contribution limits. There is no getting around this.

    Voluntary public financing, as in Portland, Arizona, and Maine is a great idea. It has, however, not been successful anywhere that does not have contribution limits as well. Is this coincidence? I believe not. Contribution limits promotes the use of the public system.

  • Rep. Peter Buckley (unverified)
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    Again, thank for all the comments and questions. Tom makes a significant point in that limits are essential to make the public financing system work, and that is where Oregon needs to go. Petition 150 is the first step towards setting limits. It will need to be followed up in order to define how much of the $15,000 per year can go to specific campaigns. Here's where 150 is similar to 8 and 37:

    --it puts into the constitution our ability to limit contributions to campaigns.

    --it bans corporate and union treasury funds. Unions will still be able to bundle contributions from their members to contribute to campaigns.

    Here's where 150 differs from 8/37:

    --it places a $15,000 per year aggregate on what an individual can contribute for or against candidates for local and state office and adjusts the aggregate for inflation; 37 places a $2,500 per year aggregate on individual contributions for or against candidates, and does not adjust for inflation. This is a vital detail in that virtually every progressive group in Oregon has stated that the $2,500 aggregate would take so much of the funding out of the system that groups like Planned Parenthood, BRO, the Bus Project, etc. would be tremendously damaged in their ability to be financially stable and participate in the political process.

    Another huge concern on the aggregate level is playing itself out in Colorado, where a system similar to 37 was voted into place in 2002 and was in effect in 2004. The initial result was very positive in terms of victories by the progressive side. But the strong majority of progressives in that state that I spoke to expressed their great fear that it was the independent expenditure campaigns funded by four Colorado multi-millionaires that turned the tide, and they are far from comfortable with a system that can be so clearly dominated by a small group of wealthy individuals. In 2004, the multi-millionaires were on the progressive side. The fear is that in 2006 and beyond, the multi-millionaires will not be. And the aggregate is so low that the only entity in the system in place now that can possibly compete are the unions, not individual candidate campaigns or other organizations, and unions versus multi-millionaires is not a system I want to back.

    This is the key point. Dan has placed limits on independent expenditures in 37. Even the national consultant we brought in to advise us admitted that there is no more than a 50/50 chance that the limit on independent expenditures would be upheld, and every other attorney who has weighed in on this issue, including legislative counsel, believes that there is virtually no chance that this limit will be upheld in Oregon.

    Given this, I strongly urged the proponents of 37 to hold off until 2008, to wait to see how the far right reacts in Colorado this year to the independent expenditure loophole, etc. Again, given the the strong probability that the courts will not uphold the independent expenditure ban, I don't want to see a system dominated by wealthy individuals with severe limits set on progressive candidates and organizations, leaving them unable to respond and compete.

    I don't approach this issue lightly in any way, and I certainly haven't acted in haste. The issue is complex, and the stakes are too high to cement into place a system with the potential to backfire. 37 is a sincere attempt to completely redefine the system, and it is balanced in a way that if any significant part of it is overturned, the system is dangerously unbalanced. 150 is a step in the process of defining a new system. It is balanced from the start, and can be upgraded in continuously progressive ways in the coming years.

  • (Show?)

    Charlie Burr asks if the sponsors of Petition #8 and Petition 37 are "willing to limit your contributions to $15K if the other side limits contributions to the same level as well?"

    Sure. Just bring me an enforceable agreement under which all opponents of the measures, current and future, agree to accept no funding from corporations or unions or individuals in amounts greater than $15,000 per person per year. Also, all opponents must file C&E reports showing all of their contributors (and their employers and occupations) and all of the expenditures, just as is required of those who seek to qualify a measure for the ballot. I would agree to that deal in a minute.

    What our opponents are suggesting, of course, is that we limit the funding available for advocating Petitions 8 and 37, while they not limit the funding available for opposing those petitions, both in the circulation stage and after qualification for the ballot.

    And limiting contributions or spending on ballot measures is not part of our petitions, anyway, as the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly struck down such limits as contrary to the First Amendment (while upholding limits on contributions for candidates and on independent expenditures to support or oppose candidates).

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    Peter Buckley suggests that the major problem with P37 is the $2500 annual aggregate contribution limit. It seems to me that a political system that depends on individuals who give more than $2500 per year to [instate] candidates is broken and undemocratic, yet this is the system Rep. Buckley sees as an improvement worth the gathering of over 100,000 signatures and the running of an initiative campaign.

    We will not know if P37's limitations on independent expenditures (IEs) will be upheld unless it becomes law and is tested. Short of that, IEs will remain part of our candidate elections.

    So I am asked to choose between a system (P150) that allows individuals to give $15,000 yearly [adjusted upward for inflation] and leaves IEs in place, and another system (P8 & 37) that caps individual annual contributions at $2500 and limits IEs, although this limit may or may not stand up in court. Under either system direct corporate and union contributions are banned, but any group can bundle small contributions [a clear advantage for labor unions not too lazy to organize].

    It seems to me that the latter system is the COMMON SENSE choice for progressives who support democratic government.

  • (Show?)

    Having both sides of this debate limit their supporters' contributions to $15K and under this cycle seems pretty fair to me, but under current Oregon election law, both supporters and opponents of ballot measures already have to file C&Es with the Secretary of State, albeit on different calendars. You were asking Our Oregon why they haven't filed yet with the SOS; I'd be truly suprised if they missed their deadline when it comes up.

    Dan wrote: What our opponents are suggesting, of course, is that we limit the funding available for advocating Petitions 8 and 37, while they not limit the funding available for opposing those petitions, both in the circulation stage and after qualification for the ballot.

    Again, what I was asking about - a $15K limit per individual - would apply to both supporters and opponents of 8/37, as mentioned above.

  • Ron Ledbury (unverified)
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    Suppose a write-in candidate were to receive 50 percent of the vote, plus one.

    Is there any feature of the manner of campaigning leading to that vote that would allow the presently empowered government officials to use their position to prevent the people's new choice from assuming the new title associated with an elected office?

    A necessary component of democracy is the willingness of present elected officials to voluntarily consent to transfer to someone else. You need to go study some more about violent battles in many places around the world where the issue of voluntary transfer of democratic power has been illuminated in great detail.

    I would surely not like to see the day that officials within our government would claim that because some person X had spent in excess of prescribed spending limit Z that a write-in candidate with 50 percent plus one of the votes was not validly chosen by the electors. That frustration would apply equally based on whether a person joined forces with another person to help advocate for a candidate; such association should not be called a criminal conspiracy.

    Note the semi-colon in the following sentence that recognizes two parts to the section

    "Section 8. Freedom of speech and press. No law shall be passed restraining the free expression of opinion, or restricting the right to speak, write, or print freely on any subject whatever; but every person shall be responsible for the abuse of this right."

    The second part involves a potential cause of action that is independent of the successful election of write-in candidate as posed above. The formulation which I posed in a previous comment would not prohibit the legislature from authorizing the Secretary of State to subsequently dissolve a corporation and thus deny them the conditional privileges they had obtained via some sort of incorporation.

    The actual character of an artificial entity is largely a matter of a choice by an incorporator and is not based on a crystal clear multiple choice style test to verify that the claimed character exactly matches the actual entity, to the exclusion of the other conceivable characterizations. Someone would have to claim to be God or something to stir the passions of the folks that accept the filing that this might not be a legitimate entity, and even then they might say whatever, we'll let you file it if that is what you want.

    This is to say that I would not want to place too much emphasis upon the claimed character of an entity by either the incorporator or the government. Rather it would be confined to an examination of whether an association was comprised of individuals, to the exclusion of any artificial entities, and that each participant consented to the expression of the association. Individual members can have private claims against an association but that is a private matter and not one that involves a government restraint for purposes of state action.

    Apply the above to Nader:

    The Nader legal battle was never perceived as hot as it would not have resulted in him even gaining a plurality. Nevertheless, the legal inquiry could have and should have been treated with the same vigor that would have been applicable if the court determination would have resulted in Nader being recognized as Oregon's choice for president in the general election.

    The low level attacks on speech are no less hideous than where the voters for a write-in candidate are denied representation by someone they chose. In the early battles over unionization and the conduct of organizing efforts it was recognized that protection must be accorded to the "formation" of unions, as it is a critical and necessary step in the process that might lead to a majority decision to bargain collectively. If government could interfere in formation then they might never have to bargain. The formation stage of elections that involve candidates such as Nader is illustrative of the potential for mischief by the folks in power.

    The First Amendment was never intended to empower the government to stop opponents but rather it is designed to lend credibility to any resulting set of elected officials to a claim to represent all. Any increase in power that is given to (or taken by) the government itself, or government authorized artificial entities, comes at the direct expense of the credibility of the government and thus the consent of the governed.

    You can judge for yourself, I suppose, the odds that I could make a successful facial challenge to the new common sense petition presented at the start of this thread. Ah, but this just a blog. Ha. Spend away, I suppose, all your capital in a futile effort, it is your choice.

    There is a world of difference between placing a condition upon the grant of a privilege on some sort of incorporation and a potential civil or criminal action against an individual that used their time or money to seek redress of their perceived grievances. It is more fun to ponder whether public advocacy in the judicial arena, rather than via elective office, would also be covered by a monetary limit? And it is more fun to think about the advertising revenue for The Oregonian that is derived from entities that are partially owned by the Oregon Investment Council on behalf of the "independent" artificial entity known as PERS?

    Target your wording to the Oregon Supreme Court.

  • Rep. Peter Buckley (unverified)
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    Tom-

    I'm afraid you misunderstood. My objection is not the $2500 aggregate--it is the probability that the independent expenditure limitation will be thrown out, leaving wealthy individuals the ability to dominate campaigns through that pipe while the rest of the system is held down by the low aggregate.

    If there was a good chance that the IE limit would be upheld, we would have a signficant step forward, although there is a major concern with funding drying up for smaller progressive organizations. Since there is clearly a good chance that the IE limit won't be upheld, we would have a significant step backwards.

    You seem to believe that it's worth the chance that the limits might be upheld, and that's valid. But please remember that Petition 8 requires another initiative or a 3/4 vote of the legislature to deal with the damage in the likely case that the limits are not upheld. And until it is possible to make that happen, whatever damage that is set into place will continue. Why not step forward onto solid ground, then step forward again and again, instead of leap into what looks to be a legal bog with possibly very negative consequences?

  • (Show?)

    I ask again, what makes you think the $15,000 cap on aggregate contributions will be upheld? Is that "solid ground"?

    This aggregate cap is a restriction on political speech. Last I checked, the Supreme Court still considered contributions to be a form of speech protected by the First Amendment. Contribution limits have been upheld because the Court has recognized a compelling interest in avoiding quid pro quo corruption. A cap on aggregate contributions does not serve that interest. My $10 contribution to a candidate presents no risk of corruption, regardless of how much I've contributed to other candidates. Therefore, a cap on aggregate contributions would seem to be just as constitutionally vulnerable as a limit on independent expenditures.

  • Bill Hooker (unverified)
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    There remain three of Dan Meek's objections to P150 that, to my mind, have yet to be addressed:

    1. Petition 150 expressly does not limit use of a candidate's personal wealth. If its other limits were in any way effective, the result would be reserving important public offices for those wealthy enough to personally fund their own campaigns.

    2. a major problem with Petition 150 is that it leaves large gaps in defining entities that can be limited. It allows only restrictions on "a corporation or labor organization" or "an individual."

    3. Petition 150 uses many terms that it does not define. This will allow the Legislature to define those terms as it likes.

    The first of these seems to me sufficient to sink P150.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    Peter,

    I understand your argument. What I question is the belief that progressives/Democrats/right-thinking people will be severely disadvantaged if IE limits are struck down and individuals are limited to contributing $2500 per year to Oregon candidates. What percentage of Oregonians now give more than $2500? I don't know, but I'm certain it is a tiny number. For the sake of democratic governance, our campaigns should not depend on these contributions.

    Any CFR system will need to operate for several election cycles before candidates and contributors completely adjust to the new funding environment. We don't know how small contributors will react the change. Maybe they will feel their money is more relevant and will increase their contributions. Look at the tremendous difference made by internet fundraising in the last Democratic presidential primaries. Change is possible. Catering to the worst fears of the political establishment is not the way forward.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    Ron Ledbury,

    Are you using some prose generating program or do you believe that opaque writing will impress readers? I know the words you use, but I'll be damned if I can understand what you are trying to say beyond your general attitude to the subject.

  • (Show?)

    Below is text from Petition 37 (Sorry, the site won't let me use A, B, C, D for the inset list of items, so it is numbered as well. That is the only change made to this passage.)

    (d) An individual may make only the following contributions:

    1. During any election period, to candidate committees, not more than:
      1. Five hundred dollars ($500) to support or oppose candidates contesting for any particular statewide public office; and
      2. One hundred dollars ($100) to support or oppose candidates contesting for any other particular public office.
    2. During any calendar year, not more than:
      1. Fifty dollars ($50) to any small donor committee;
      2. Five hundred dollars ($500) to any other political committee;
      3. Two thousand dollars ($2,000) in the aggregate to a political party, including all subdivisions thereof; and
      4. Two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) in the aggregate to all candidate committees, political committees (including small donor committees), political parties, and political nonprofit organizations.

    This is what many people have a problem with. It's not just $2500/year to a candidate, or candidates. It's $2500 total per year to candidates, PACs, political non-profits, county parties, DPO, etc.

    And yes, there are a lot of people, including lots of Democrats, who spend this in a year.

    There are a lot of people who give organizations like the Bus Project more than $500 in a year.

    $2500 may seem like a huge number, but not when you think about the fact that you're talking about such a large number of organizations & candidates. And it's really small when you see that it says per CALENDAR year, not per election cycle. So that's $2500 per calendar year, which is two election cycles in even years.

  • (Show?)

    Jenni assumes that Petition 37 places a $500 per person limit on contributions to groups like the Bus Project. It does not. Please read http://www.fairelections.net/fairelectionsfacts.pdf.

    Petition 37 does not apply at all to the unpaid activities of volunteers. It completely exempts all "Volunteer personal services (including those of the candidate) for which no compensation is asked or given, including unreimbursed travel expenses."

    Petition 37 also allows any group involved in politics to receive unlimited contributions and spend unlimited amounts on anything it wants, as long as it does not use the money to communicate with the general public to urge a vote for or against one or more candidates during the period 30 days prior to the primary election or 60 days prior to the general election.

    In addition, Petition 37 allows any group unlimited contributions and spending for:

    1. communicating with its own members on any subject at any time and in any manner;

    2. publicizing its activities and attracting new members;

    3. preparing scorecards on votes cast by public officeholders;

    4. conducting surveys of candidates' positions on issues;

    5. encouraging people to vote or register to vote;

    6. supporting or opposing ballot measures; and

    7. communicating with the general public on any or all issues, as long as it does not advocate the election or defeat of a candidate during the 30-day period prior to primary election voting or the 60-day period prior to general election voting.

    In addition, any group or person can do both of the following:

    1. Form a regular political committee and receive contributions from individuals of up to $500 per individual per year.

    The committee can use these funds to support or oppose candidates, either by contributing to candidate campaigns or by communicating directly with voters.

    1. Form a "Small Donor Committee," which can receive only contributions from individuals in amounts not higher than $50 per person per year.

    A membership organization (Sierra Club, labor union, etc.) can even transfer up to $50 per year of regular membership dues into its Small Donor Committee. A Small Donor Committee can use all of these funds to support or oppose one candidate, if it chooses, or any number of candidates.

    In addition, anyone interested in any issue can also form a separate small donor committee and also receive contributions from individuals of $50 or less per year and spend all of those funds supporting or opposing any candidates. So, anyone who might wish to support pro-choice candidates, for example, could contribute up to $2,500 per year to a number of Small Donor Committees that support a woman's right to choose, and those committees could use all of those funds to support a single candidate or any number of candidates.

    Petition 37 is a comprehensive system. It cannot be analyzed merely by picking out one of the limits, without understanding the scope of the limits.

  • (Show?)

    Chris wonders whether an aggregate limit on an individual's contributions per year (or per other period) would be upheld. Many states already have such limits, and none have been struck down.

    STATE $$$ PERIOD

    Arizona 3,230 per year Conn 15,000 per election DC 8,500 per election Georgia 12,000 per 2 years Maine 25,000 per year Maryland 10,000 per 4 years Mass 12,500 per year New York 150,000 per year Rhode Island 10,000 per year Wisconsin 10,000 per year Wyoming 25,000 per 2 years

  • Rep. Peter Buckley (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Once again, it is great to be able to discuss this and get facts, figures and approaches out there. From Dan's list of aggregates, the $15,000 that P150 proposes for our state fits somewhere in the middle of states with yearly aggregates, and I know I'm repeating myself, but we can reduce that number in the future if we find it to be too high for our state.

    Maine has that $25,000 per year, and it works well in conjunction with their public financed elections system. Arizona has a much lower limit that works in conjunction with their public financed system. Thus far, it doesn't seem as if it makes a huge difference. The key is to have a clear limit that works in partnership with public financed campaigns. And again, that's where we need to go.

  • Rep. Peter Buckley (unverified)
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    To continue on with that thought--Maine, with a higher aggregate, has a more progressive legislature than Arizona does, even though Arizona's aggregate is much lower. Much depends not only on the aggregate but the nature of the state. Oregon is a progressive state, and we need to let that progressive nature cut loose again. Petition 150, as a solid step towards a system of limits combined with public funded campaigns, is how I see our best way to go forward.

  • (Show?)

    Thanks, Dan, for the facts re: aggregate spending caps. I admit I am surprised. To my even greater surprise, I discovered in a few minutes of internet research that Buckley v. Valeo itself upheld a $25,000 aggregate contribution limit, on the the theory that it is an "incidental corollary" of the individual contribution limits. That explains why those other states have gotten away with it.

    I still don't think it makes much sense. If a $5 contribution to a candidate is not enough to have a corrupting influence, it is no more true just because $15,000 was given to other candidates.

  • (Show?)

    Chris--

    It's not about the corrupting influence of a single donation. It's the corrupting influence on the entire system. If one donor is able to give hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, that makes all candidates lean towards that donor - trying to gain his favor so that they might share in the largesse. Even if they end up only getting that $5, they might adjust their behavior in hopes of getting more later.

    If a person can only give $15,000 (which is high, but not ridiculously high when spread across 90 legislative seats, six statewide seats, and hundreds of local and judicial candidates) then that means the entire system doesn't bend nearly as much toward them.

    I tend to think of it as a roomful of magnets - some big, some small - drop a steel ball in there and it'll bounce around, but eventually find its way nearest the bigger magnets.

  • (Show?)

    Actually yes, it would apply to the Bus Project.

    That PDF says:

    "Our measures would somehow de-fund the Bus Project. False. Petition 37 specifically exempts all volunteer time and unreimbursed volunteer expenses, including travel costs."

    I'm not talking about volunteer time, volunteer expenses, etc. I'm talking about money the Bus Project uses to go out and canvass for candidates. If they do any communications to the general public prior to 60 days before October 21 ("sixty (60) days before regular ballots are distributed to voters in a general election"), then they fall under the rule. The Bus Project does indeed spend money on supporting candidates during the 60 days prior to the ballots being sent out.

    While the Bus Project may rely heavily on volunteers, it still goes through something like $100K+ during the election cycle.

    The FAQ says:

    "Petition 37 allows any group involved in politics to receive unlimited contributions and spend unlimited amounts on anything it wants, as long as it does not use the money to communicate with the general public to urge a vote for or against one or more candidates during the period 30 days prior to the primary election or 60 days prior to the general election."

    I'd like to see the wording in the MEASURE that states this. I cannot find anything that states the limits under individual contributions apply only if the group doesn't do those types of communications 30/60 days before the ballots go out. It states those are the limits, period.

    And I think it's so funny that the supporters of M37 automatically assume that those of us with concerns or opposed to M37 must either be with Our Oregon or are getting our info from Our Oregon. The fact is my concerns regarding the $2500/year limit come from my own reading of the measure text (which of course is what we're voting on and will become law, not the FAQ). I have yet to read anything in opposition to M37, other than the comments here. I have't read any group's report on it, as I wanted to see the measure without someone else's bias.

    Maybe instead of constantly pointing people to a FAQ, that really means nothing in the scheme of things since it isn't what we're voting on, the backers of this should point out the MEASURE TEXT that applies to the person's concern.

  • Eulia (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Information below from opensecrets.org presents a study done on U.S. & Oregon contribution patterns. The statistics therein support strongly that Initiative 37 does not impact the total amount of contributions that can be raised from individuals by candidates running either for state or local offices.

    Using the facts given a $2500 limit for an individual is a definitely realistic one & valid for many years. But when an increase is needed the legislature may amend by a 3/4 majority a different individual limit to the law that is the consequence of a successful Initiative 37.

    Recently the Democratic Party of Oregon emphasized that it was not only against Initiative 37 but opposes any real campaign finance reform because the members have determined specific goals to be reached in ten or more years. They believe that such requires large sums of money which are attainable only from the very wealthy contributors based on past records of fund raising by Oregon candidates.

    The position of the Democratic Party of Oregon differs with that of Howard Dean, Democratic National Chairman who for years has emphasized his position of the need for campaign finance reform. His words are: "It's time to take forever the stench of dirty money out of politics." He works presently for campaign finance reform.

    In contrary Initiative 150 aims to maintain fund raising as usual and for at least a decade! ( Remember what Enron which gave huge amounts of monies to Oregon candidates did in less than 10 years.) Initiative 150 sets individual contribution limits at a whopping $15,000. It gives the impression of reform by prohibiting contributions from corporations. However, as has been pointed out earlier in this discussion, Initiative 150 establishes no method to curtail corporate monies from flowing to Oregon candidates to finance all the multi-million dollar campaign schemes so common here.

    So in its masquerade representing change Initiative 150 actually is crafted to guarantee that multi-millions of dollars may legitimately be accepted from wealthy individuals and corporations such as Enron --or the likes.

    Historically records expose that the candidate spending the greatest amount of money - with rare exception- will win the election. It has been obvious that if an elected official wants to be re-elected s/he will acquiesce to the whims of big contributors. So another condition assured by Initiative 150 is that the elected will enact for the benefits of their biggest donors and not for the benefits of the electorate in order to get the new financial support so needed to win another election. The vicious cycle will continue.

    A recent poll shows that campaign finance reform is desired by Oregon voters overwhelmingly and that CFR will pass. This is why Initiative 37 is being so adamantly opposed by those who have an agenda for personal or political gain. It is a threat to a way of living for some presently politically comfortable people.

    For them Initiative 150 has to be the best while for the greater electorate Initiative 37 is the best. It assures progress for all the people.

    Many Democrats have signed the Initiative #37 petition because it offers the best thing that could happen to Oregon today which will lead to a finer tomarrow.

    Don't be mislead by any inadequate CFR initiative.

    As law Initiative 37 it would put an end to the present wide spread "stench in dirty politics". It will be the foundation for the beginning of fair elections where there will be governance by the people and for the people.

    The report about campaign contributions in the U.S. follows.

    www.opensecrets.org The Center for Responsive Politics HOME SEARCH

        MYTH 3: MAKING CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS IS ONE OF THE PRIMARY WAYS THAT AMERICANS PARICIPATE IN OUR DEMOCRACY.
    
        *Of the 250 million people who live in the U.S. -- including children, in whose names many political contributions are made -- fewer than 900,000 people, or one-third of 1 percent, gave direct individual contributions of $200 or more to congressional candidates in 1991-92 (the last election cycle for which individual contribution data is available). Yet such contributions comprised well over half of the total amount given by individuals during that period. Individual contributions of less than $200 accounted for just 19 percent of the total.[19]
    
        *In 1990, one-tenth of 1 percent of the voting age population accounted for 46 percent of all the money raised by congressional candidates And only one-twentieth of 1 percent of the voting age population accounted for all the large ($200 and over) contributions to winning U.S. Senate candidates. (Large individual contributions made up 38 percent of total contributions to winning Senate incumbents in 1990.) [20]
    
        *The residents of one zip-code area -- 10021 -- on New York City's Upper East Side contributed more money to Congress during the 1994 elections than did all the residents of each of 24 states.[21]
    
        *A study of state elections in seven western states (Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Nevada) found that during the 1990 election cycle only one half of 1 percent of the population of those states made campaign contributions of $100 or more -- even though such contributions comprised the bulk of campaign funds.[22]
    
        *Although voters are much more likely to contribute than non-voters, when voters in five states were asked if they had ever made a political contribution of any size to any political campaign -- local, state, or federal - 68 percent in Massachusetts and Colorado said they had not; 69 percent in Oregon had not; 71 percent in Missouri had not; and 72 percent in Montana had not.[23]
    
        *As campaigns have become more and more expensive, an increasingly smaller percentage of the electorate has been comprised of people with low to modest incomes. Since non-voters rarely make campaign contributions, it is reasonable to assume that there has also been an increasingly smaller percentage of low to modest-income contributors.
    
            Of the total number of votes cast in the 1994 elections, the share of votes from those with incomes of $50,000 or more increased by 33 percent from 1990, rising from 23.7 to 31.5 percent. The share from those with incomes of $15,000 and lower, however, decreased by 21 percent, from 34.3 to 27.1 percent.[24]
    
        *People in the United States with family incomes over $75,000 are 100 times more likely to contribute to local, state, or federal candidates than those with family incomes below $15,000.[25]
    
        *The richest 10 percent of the population (those with family incomes over $75,000) contribute almost half of all campaign dollars in election contests at all levels combined. The poorest 9 percent (those who receive means-tested benefits such as food stamps, Medicaid, or Aid to Families with Dependent Children) contribute less than 1 percent of all campaign dollars.[26]
    
        *While African-Americans are only slightly less likely than whites to make campaign contributions, Latinos (with the exception of Cuban-Americans) are less than one-third as likely as whites to get involved in politics in any way, including as campaign contributors. [27]
    
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    I'd like to see the wording in the MEASURE that states this. I cannot find anything that states the limits under individual contributions apply only if the group doesn't do those types of communications 30/60 days before the ballots go out. It states those are the limits, period.

    Look under section 4 titled: "'Contribution' and 'Expenditure' do not include:"

    (C) Nonpartisan activity solely to encourage individuals to vote or to register to vote, without expressing a preference regarding the outcome of any election;

    Clearly, these nonpartisan activities are explictly exempted under the statue. This would seem to exclude most of the C4 activity that the Bus Project engages in and would only subject the PAC to contribution limits.

    And I think it's so funny that the supporters of M37 automatically assume that those of us with concerns or opposed to M37 must either be with Our Oregon or are getting our info from Our Oregon.

    I don't see anything particularly funny about it. Our Oregon is now campaigning against Measure 37. They've launched a ballot initiative that they appear to have no intention to put on the ballot in an attempt to erode support from 37. Some of their members have made inaccurate, or misleading public statements about the Fair Elections efforts. What reason do the proponents of 37 have to assume that many of the inaccurate comments made about the initiative are not the result, either directly or indirectly, of those efforts?

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    If a person can only give $15,000 (which is high, but not ridiculously high when spread across 90 legislative seats, six statewide seats, and hundreds of local and judicial candidates) then that means the entire system doesn't bend nearly as much toward them.

    Holding aside the fact that I don't believe that Our Oregon intends to put Petition 150 on the ballot, my two big objections to Petition 150 are these:

    1) It makes no attempt to resolve the issue of independent expenditures. This means that when a large donor bumps into the $15,000 cap for supporting individual campaigns, the money will automatically flow into the more shadowy realm of 527-style swift boat attack ads. Candidates will know where the money is coming from, but the general public will not.

    Critics of Petition 37 rightly point out that the independent expenditure may be struck down in court, and generally agree that this would be a bad thing for limits. What is the rationale, then, for supporting a system of campaign finance that concedes this defeat from the beginning?

    2) I think it's a very bad idea to enshrine the body of a statute like 150 in the Oregon Constitution because it will be very difficult to change. Petition 8 and 37 are much cleaner in that regard. 8 asserts that campaign finance reform is legal and establishes how it can be implemented. 37 defines the actual law. If 37 turns out to be a bad law, the legislature can act in a bi-partisan fashion to change it however they see fit, or simply refer a new version to the Oregon voters.

  • (Show?)

    Just one thing I'd like to clarify:

    If Our Oregon would have supported Petition 8 as the constitutional amendment, and offered 150 as a statutory alternative to 37, I think it would be much more palatable than 37 to most Oregon voters. This would've had the added benefit of saving Our Oregon some money in legal fees and campaign expenses that they will undoubtedly incur as part of their effort to defeat 37 at the ballot box and/or kill it in the Oregon Court.

    Also, it would've probably helped Democratic candidates who are now going to be in the uncomfortable position of being asked to oppose campaign finance reform, which if the Oregonian is to be believed, enjoys 70-75% support among Oregon voters.

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    One final point about campaign finance reform: The total amount of money spent on campaigns is a dawdle compared to money spent on lobbying. One of the big reasons why public interest legislation gets defeated in Oregon is not just the campaign contributions, but the fact that for every 1 public interest lobbyist on a certain issue in Salem, be it Philip Wong from the Ecumenical Ministries, or some volunteer member of the LWV or Common Cause, there are often 10 well-paid lobbyists arguing for AOI are similar interests.

    Campaign finance reform is an important step to cleaning up our political system, but I do not agree with those who believe that it is a magic bullet that will reduce the corrupting influence of money on legislation. What it may do, is eliminate the "Culture of Fear" that Dan Meek often talks about, in which lobbyists can threaten to spend unlimited money financing the opponent of a legislature who votes "the wrong way" on a piece of legislation.

  • progvoice (unverified)
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    Wow! What a great discussion! If there ever was a reason for BlueOregon to exist, this is it. I think that this should be lifted out of this site and placed directly in the voters pamphlet.

  • (Show?)

    Thanks, progvoice. I agree - BlueOregon is much more interesting when it's a discussion amongst progressives about what's best for our state... not a left/right fistfight.

  • Eulia (unverified)
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    Your suggestion that this discussion be placed in the voters pamphlet is fantastic! Thanks!

    When the quota of signatures is met, a bunch of small contributions to get this ensuing "exchange" into the phamphlet would help draw voters undivided attention to CFR.

    What other great ideas do you have to get the public aroused so as to enact REAL campaign finance reform?

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    Look under section 4 titled: "'Contribution' and 'Expenditure' do not include:"

    (C) Nonpartisan activity solely to encourage individuals to vote or to register to vote, without expressing a preference regarding the outcome of any election;

    Clearly, these nonpartisan activities are explictly exempted under the statue. This would seem to exclude most of the C4 activity that the Bus Project engages in and would only subject the PAC to contribution limits.

    See, this is what I mean. I even stated above in the post you're answering that I'm not talking about that:

    "I'm talking about money the Bus Project uses to go out and canvass for candidates." and "The Bus Project does indeed spend money on supporting candidates during the 60 days prior to the ballots being sent out."

    When people talk about this affecting the Bus Project, they're talking about their campaigning activities-- their PAC. The work they do to bring large numbers of people out to canvass for candidates.

    They know it's not going to affect the Bus Project's ability to do their voter registration, issue forums, youth caucus, etc. That is in no way related to candidates, which is what this measure is about. It may in some ways affect what the c4 can pay for the PAC, I'm not sure. But generally it's not going to affect the c4 or their soon-to-be c3.

    We're talking about the work they do to go out and work for candidates. And people give a considerable amount of money to the Bus Project for them to be able to do this work. This is what people mean when they express concern about the Bus Project. And in everything you guys have said up until this last comment, including the FAQ, have been misleading regarding the Bus Project. You've made it seem like it would not affect their funding, when indeed it will affect the funding of BusPAC greatly. I think to make your FAQ as honest as possible, the wording regarding the Bus Project has to be changed to relect what this-- That it is unlikely there will be many affects to the Bus Project's 501c4; however, the PAC will be governed by these contribution limits.

    What reason do the proponents of 37 have to assume that many of the inaccurate comments made about the initiative are not the result, either directly or indirectly, of those efforts?

    Maybe that people have read the measure themselves? That they can think for themselves? As I've shown above, the comments about the Bus Project are not inaccurate-- they're 100% correct. You guys just like to only mention the Bus Project in terms of the c4, when everyone else is talking about the PAC.

    As I said, I haven't read a thing that Our Oregon has put out on this, and I'm sure many others haven't as well.

    It makes me wonder how many more situations there are like this. It also makes people unwary about your measure.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    Eulia wrote:

    "Recently the Democratic Party of Oregon emphasized that it was not only against Initiative 37 but opposes any real campaign finance reform because the members have determined specific goals to be reached in ten or more years. They believe that such requires large sums of money which are attainable only from the very wealthy contributors based on past records of fund raising by Oregon candidates."

    If this is true, it is a very different position than the DPO took in the late 1990s when I was chair of the campaign committee, when Oregon Democrats were in favor of strong campaign finance reform.

    My assessment has been, for many years, that most political professionals [Kari appears to be an exception] will oppose any CFR that removes large amounts of money from the system, whether or not the change is good for the Democrats or democracy. Some pros have admitted this to me. Others pretend to support CFR, but find some "terrible" fault with any CFR proposal that makes headway.

    Progressives should be wary of this tendency of people to preserve their own cashflow when political pros offer their judgements of CFR proposals.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    I'll be talking with Dan Meek about M8 & M37 tomorrow at 5PM on metro area cable channel 11. I also hope to have on someone from the campaign protecting Portland's public financing system.

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    As I've shown above, the comments about the Bus Project are not inaccurate-- they're 100% correct. You guys just like to only mention the Bus Project in terms of the c4, when everyone else is talking about the PAC.

    Jenni,

    First off, I don't think it's terribly fair for you to say that Dan and his crew are being misleading about how their statute is going to affect Oregon politics. They are championing the fact that they'll be taking big money out of the political system, not running from it.

    Second, I'd like to apologize for responding to your note after only giving it a quick read.

    As far as the Bus is concerned ...

    As far as I can tell, you couldn't have picked a better example than the Bus of an organization that is built to thrive under Petition 37.

    In my view, the Bus Pac is one of the few organizations that is "doing it right" in their approach to organizing, not only in terms of their emphasis on canvassing, which will become more important in an environment where it is tougher to do large media buys, but in terms of how they raise their money. Petition 37 was created to reward groups like the Bus and DFA, not hamper them.

    Take a look at the Bus Pac C&E's on the secretary of state's web site, and note how the Bus raised the money that went into their Pac in 2004. The overwhelming majority came in contributions of $100 or less. They had a few $1000 individual contributions that would be $500 contributions under 37, but their only real big money donations were some $5000 and $6000 contributions from labor unions. Those contributions are likely to be unaffected for two reasons: First, the Bus is too damned good at grassroots organizing for the Unions not to support them. Second, the unions will all have small donor committees in 2006, and won't be subject to the $500 limits that other entities are subject to.

    As to some specifics of how they will operate... that's a call for Jeff and his board. My guess is that they'll form a small donor committee to handle the bulk of individual contributions for their political work and keep the existing committee to continue getting the $100 - $500 checks.

    If anything, their operations will stay the same or grow while just about everyone else in the Oregon political system will be cut down a peg or three.

    Just my $0.02. And so we're clear on this, I'm not speaking for the petitioners or sponsors of 8 or 37. I'm just a guy who supports Governor Dean's call for the Democrats to get behind campaign finance reform even if there are some folks in the system who don't like it.

  • LT (unverified)
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    2 things: I) I get the numbers of measures mixed up, but I seem to recall that Democrats in multi-county districts opposed limits so strict they could make candidates spend more time fundraising than out with the voters because the strict limits would hardly provide enough money for gas to drive from one end of the district to another. That is a far cry from saying that Democrats or DPO opposes all campaign finance reform. I support campaign finance reform---with the condition that people are allowed to debate the wording of the various measures.

    Which brings me to 2) Our Oregon is now campaigning against Measure 37. They've launched a ballot initiative that they appear to have no intention to put on the ballot in an attempt to erode support from 37. Some of their members have made inaccurate, or misleading public statements about the Fair Elections efforts.

    I'd be very careful with the concept that speaking against petition 37 (none are on the ballot yet, thus are not measures) makes one a card carrying member of Our Oregon because Our Oregon opposes the measure. That is the sort of nonsense that right wingers use, as in "parents who march for more school funding are dupes of the teachers union" as if they couldn't just be parents who care about the condition of the schools their kids attend.

    If I found out that a measure would not allow the Bus Project to endorse candidates and go door to door for those candidates (while raising money to pay for bus fuel, staff, etc) 60 days before the election, I would question whether I wanted to support that measure. Surely there is a way to keep lobby groups (ORA for example) from having such a hold on our politics that their name appears in the masthead of a capital gains tax cut bill sponsored by the majority leader, without making life difficult for grass roots organizations like the Bus Project.

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    Actually, I'm not against campaign finance reform. As I stated above, I was an initial supporter of 37 and even did some paid work for the organization that worked on it. I am very much for campaign finance reform-- but that doesn't mean I can't be against specific forms of it.

    I believe the $2500 limit per calendar year is too low. I'm much more comfortable with a $10,000-$15,000 or so limit, especially since this includes your contributions to all candidates, political organizations, county parties, DPO, etc.

    And yes, I do believe it's fair to say they're being misleading. Their FAQ says that the Bus Project won't be affected. This is not true. They've said over and over in this blog entry that it won't affect the Bus Project. It wasn't until I asked for the wording in the measure, not the FAQ, that it was admitted that the 501c4 would not be affected, but the PAC would. If they'd change their wording and comments to people to reflect that fact, then they wouldn't be misleading people.

    Yes, the Bus Project gets a lot of donations in small amounts. I happen to be one of those-- my contribution tends to be between $60-$100 each year, and there are a lot of people who do the same. We get the same types of donation over at Democracy for Oregon. But BusPAC also get a good number of donations that wouldn't be allowed under these rules.

    I did a quick look through BusPAC's 2004 election C&E reports as well as the 2005 Supplemental report (which showed a balance of $1,197.16). Here's what I found:

    10 individuals gave $500.

    8 individuals gave between $1000 and $2000, and one donated just under $900.

    An individual gave $3,000 and another gave $11,000 in three separate contributions throughout the two election cycles.

    None of this includes more than $37,650 from PACs, unions and businesses that all exceed $500 in each donation-- ranging from $500 to $2000 to $5000 to $7,500. I didn't include these, because most would probably figure out a way to use small donor committees to still give the money to the Bus Project.

    Of course you'd see loses from those who donated more than $500 in that year (and possibly those in the $200-$500 range as well). You act as if it's no big deal that those donations would be lower, but as someone who has sat through board meetings and participated in discussions on how to fill the budget for a few months until donations started coming in, I see these losses as being huge (in cutting everything over $500, $15,892.67 would be lost from those individuals listed above).

    But, this is assuming they'd still give that full amount. Remember that $500 is one-fifth of what they're allowed to give in the entire year. Chances are that you'd see many of these high-dollar donations drop because they'd want to be sure they didn't spend all of their $2500 in the same place. You may have a few that would still give their full amounts, but it would be my guess based ob viewing many C&Es that the majority would lower their contributions to less than $500 so that they could continue giving to local and state candidates, the Party, etc.

    I think that in looking at CFR like this, we need to step back and take a serious look at how this would affect everyone-- not just those who are "buying" politicians. In stopping those people, are we also hurting those organizations that do great work in the state? Are we hurting candidates in rural areas? Is the damage small, and can it be fixed through small donor groups?

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    I see these losses as being huge (in cutting everything over $500, $15,892.67 would be lost from those individuals listed above).

    So basically what you're saying is that you oppose this initiative, primarily because it would cost the Bus $15,900 -- more than 2/3rds of which came from 1 individual.

    My own view is that the tradeoff for that loss of this one $11,000 donor is that we've created a political environment that caters to the Bus's strengths -- grassroots organizing and door-to-door canvassing as opposed to the big media buys that dominate Oregon politics today.

    I see that as a net gain for the Bus. They'd thrive in an environment where money is less important than organizing.

  • (Show?)

    blue wrote: I'm just a guy who supports Governor Dean's call for the Democrats to get behind campaign finance reform even if there are some folks in the system who don't like it.

    Howard Dean's been brought up twice now by supporters, but has no position on initiatives #8/37 to my knowledge. I think that the Governor would - much like many on this thread - be interested in the actual language and what transactional effects would be before opposing or supporting the measures.

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    On a similar note, if this is going to be so great for the Bus Project, why don't they support it?

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    Democrats in multi-county districts opposed limits so strict they could make candidates spend more time fundraising than out with the voters because the strict limits would hardly provide enough money for gas to drive from one end of the district to another.

    I think it was 1 democrat who made that argument. He was wrong, however, since unreimbursed travel expenses are exempted from petition 37, and the simple fact of the matter is almost no democratic candidates east of the cascades are affected by a $500 contribution limit. Most of them will benefit from low limits and bans on corporate contributions since the timber companies and pac's like the NRA won't be writing $1000 checks to their opponents.

    If I found out that a measure would not allow the Bus Project to endorse candidates and go door to door for those candidates (while raising money to pay for bus fuel, staff, etc) 60 days before the election, I would question whether I wanted to support that measure.

    I would oppose such an initiative. Of course, petition 37 doesn't do any of that.

  • (Show?)

    So basically what you're saying is that you oppose this initiative, primarily because it would cost the Bus $15,900 -- more than 2/3rds of which came from 1 individual.

    No, that's not what I was saying. I was just showing that we were talking about more than just a few people who had given $1,000 donations. Chances are that even under the system I prefer that this individual would be giving less to the Bus Project-- unless of course this is the only thing he ever donates to. The donations were $5,000 in the primary election cycle and two donations in the general election cycle-- $1,000 and $5,000.

    I oppose it because the maximums are too low, and I can see it easily meaning that the majority of donations over $200 being lowered as people work to stay under the $2500 limit. Those people are much more likely to be giving money to a large number of organizations, candidates, etc., easily topping $2500/calendar year. All of us giving under $100/year will be pretty much unaffected, as most of us aren't giving to that many candidates, PACs, etc.

    It'll mean even more competing amongst dems and progressives as we all fight for our part of that $2500.

    I can easily see the party getting their maximum from the big donors, and the rest of us organizations and candidates fighting for the $500 that's left over.

    I can see this really hurting local candidates, as Dems spend their $2500 on legislative and statewide races.

    Also, if I was looking at all the info right, we were talking about less than $60,000 in total donations to BusPAC-- making that $15,000 more than one-quarter of all the money received.

    ...grassroots organizing and door-to-door canvassing as opposed to the big media buys that dominate Oregon politics today...They'd thrive in an environment where money is less important than organizing.

    Actually, they're already at that point, even if the environment isn't. They don't do huge ad buys-- their money is primarily spent to go out and canvass for candidates. But food for volunteers, gas for the bus, salaries, etc. cost money. They're already running a pretty lean operation. They're heavily volunteer rich, and their money is used to support that. And they're quite successful at it, since face-to-face contact is worth more than mass mailings and ad buys. Even if the opponents to the candidates they support have less money to spend, it's not going to make food, printing, salaries, etc. cost less.

    I'm not saying I oppose this just because of the Bus Project-- this is just one example. The folks supporting 37 have used them as an example in their comments and FAQ (often incorrectly), which is why I have also done so.

    Thus far this wouldn't affect us at all over at DFO, as none of our donations have topped the amounts allowed in 37. The majority of our donors are also those unhappy with the system, and aren't donating that much in other areas. So this would actually be good for our organization. But just because it's good for us, doesn't mean I can't see where it would hurt others.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    I think Jenni Simonis' last post is a good example of the myoptic view of CFR common to political people. They look at the last year's or last cycle's contribution record and worry about how the cashflow would have been affected. There is little consideration of how the changes would affect the group's/candidate's opponents. There is little consideration of how the CFR would change the political culture, including the financial involvement of voters who do not contribute under the present system because they would be drowned out by the big contributors Jenni values so highly.

    It's quite evident that politics now depends on big contributors. That is what good CFR should change. Complaining that $2500/year is too low sounds to me like complaining that the CFR might actually do what it should: make the political process more democratic.

  • (Show?)

    Actually, I don't value the big contributors "so highly." The contributors I work with the most and work the hardest to get in all the groups I am in are always small donors. I value small donors the most, as they're often people who have the littlest to give-- they're often giving a higher percentage of their yearly wages than those who give thousands.

    They're also often the people unhappy with the system, and are just starting to come back because they see a glimmer of hope.

    I've never been a big contributor, and unless I win the lottery or come into a big inheritance, I'm not likely to be. I've put together small dollar fundraisers both here in Oregon and back in Texas that were able to bring in almost as much profit as the $100 dinners. Believe me, I understand the importance of those small donations. If your message is good, you do good things, people feel you are worthwhile, etc., the amounts will add up quickly.

    However, often times you have a few large contributors who make up that last few thousand dollars difference that it takes to pay the bills.

    I realize it will affect the opponents. But like I said, it's not going to make gas, food, or salaries any cheaper. What it will do is mean that their opponents can't buy as many ads or glossy flyers. None of which are going to change the need to get out and speak to every single voter in a district. It'll just make it even more important.

    I don't think the $2500 limit will make the process more democratic. I think what will happen is we're going to burn out our volunteers quicker, and offer them less. We'll have less money to be able to offer them something to eat for their hours of canvassing.

    This is why I'm not against limits-- I'm just against limits this low. I'm fine with limits somewhat higher. I'm just worried, as many people are, as to what such low limits will mean to candidates and organizations that are doing so well. What it will mean to local candidates, who have to wait to see if there is any money left after people support their candidate for governor, state legislature, etc.

    For example, say this was in effect now...

    You really want Kulongoski to win the primary, so you give him the $500 maximum allowed. He wins the primary. Then you give him the max you can for the general so he'll beat the Republican-- another $500.

    There are also 8 districts that you really want to see the Dems win so that we'll take back the house and keep the senate. You give them each the max for the general, which is $100/each ($800).

    Now you want to give a big donation to the Bus Project because they need funding for a big upcoming canvass. So you give them the max-- $500.

    You now have $200 left to give to your local county party, the DPO, the candidate you like for the county commission, local city candidates, etc.

    And of course you have to remember all those small amounts across the year-- dinners, conferences, luncheons, etc.-- most of them have a ticket price that is higher than the actual cost, which accounts for a donation as well.

    I just don't think that people realize how quickly $2500 a year for all candidates, groups, etc. can add up. Like I said above, I was just using the numbers for the Bus Project as an example because it was brought up by others. It isn't my sole justification for opposition to 37.

    I'd much rather see something that allows higher donations to organizations (doesn't have to be really high-- a limit of $2-3,000 would be fine).

    Something that allows slightly higher donations to legislative candidates. 37 lumps them in with county commissioners, city council, school board, etc. Maybe twice as much? That would make it $200 for state legislative races, per election cycle.

    And something that gives higher per year amounts than $2500. After all-- that $2500 is going to be for two election cycles in the even years-- primary and general.

    It's too bad that Buckley's new petition doesn't include some per candidate, group, etc. limits in addition to its yearly limit. But it is a start.

  • (Show?)

    This is why I'm not against limits-- I'm just against limits this low. I'm fine with limits somewhat higher. I'm just worried, as many people are, as to what such low limits will mean to candidates and organizations that are doing so well. What it will mean to local candidates, who have to wait to see if there is any money left after people support their candidate for governor, state legislature, etc.

    Strong local candidates are among the people who will benefit the most from this statute. Most of their support comes from those who are not necessarily regular donors to the political process. As we saw in 1996, the candidates who do not rely on a grassroots base and incumbants who rely the most heavily on contributions from lobbyists in Salem are the ones who will be the most threatened by this initiative.

    Petition 37 will definitely mean a reduction in special interest money to candidates. You seem to see that as a bad thing, at least at the $2500 level. I don't think most people outside of the political class in this state see it that way -- hence the 70-75 percent polling and overwhelming support for a more restrictive statute in 1994.

    Let's take another look at the "draconian" low limits of this statute in a context other than the C&E's of our favorite PAC:

    The median household income in Oregon is $43,000. This statute limits campaign contributions to $2500 per annum and places a $10,000 limit on independent expenditures. That's $5,000 per 2-parent household in campaign contributions and $25,000 total worth of political "speech" -- or, nearly 60 percent of Oregon's median income.

    Put me in the Bill Moyers camp on this one. If I have more money than you, that should entitle me to a bigger stock portfolio, a nicer car and a bigger house. It shouldn't entitle me to a second helping of Democracy.

    That's all I'm going to say about Campaign Reform. Frankly, there are bigger fish to fry.

    Based on my read of the C&E's, I think we're likely to see 5 Loren Parks funded initiatives on the ballot (TABOR 6&14, Insurance Discrimination, and judicial districting).

    If you want to get worried about anything this fall, start worrying about TABOR and what the rest of these Loren Parks initiatives will do to the state.

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    Well, first off I never said it was "draconian," so please don't use quotes to make it appear that I did.

    Having been a local candidate before, I can tell you that almost every dollar I received came from people who were regular donors to the Democratic Party. It was the same with many of the other local candidates I knew. It may not be so true in small rural areas, but I've seen it many times in the metro area.

    And someone making $43,000 isn't likely to spend $25,000 of their money on politics. You may have one member of the household max out their $2500, possibly the other. But you aren't likely to see them tap more than a few hundred bucks into the $20,000 in independent expenditures.

    Also, I never said the Bus Project was my favorite PAC-- that would be DFO Action. I used the Bus Project's C&E's as an example because someone else directed comments to me regarding those C&E's. I wouldn't have even discussed them so much if the supporters hadn't brought it up first, even publishing something that is only partially true in their FAQs.

    I'm sorry, but I just don't see being able to spend say $5,000 or $10,000 a year on all the candidates, county parties, state party, political groups, etc. having a second helping of democracy. And I don't see that someone giving $4,000 a year across the board to say 20 different candidates, groups, the party, etc. being a "special interest." Divided out, that's only $200 to each.

    If I were advocating for people to be able to give tens of thousands of dollars to a single candidate, that would be one thing. But I'm not. I'm talking about a reasonable amount spread out amongst many candidates, political party groups, political organizations, etc.

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    And someone making $43,000 isn't likely to spend $25,000 of their money on politics.

    Precisely. The overwhelming majority of Oregonians who give will never hit the limits outlined in Petition 37. Which begs the question, would you rather see the Loren Parks' of the world limited to $12,500 per year in aggregate, or $15,000 per year on campaigns plus an infinite amount for swiftboating candidates? Because that's exactly what will happen under any system that does not attempt to place limits on independent expenditures.

    And I assure you, when the Loren Parks' of the world do such things, they aren't taking a second helping of Democracy, they are buying the franchise.

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    And for my 3rd "final point": One of the big reasons why I support strong contribution limits is that I believe that it will force the legislature to pass public financing, or at least refer it to the voters.

  • LT (unverified)
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    And for my 3rd "final point": One of the big reasons why I support strong contribution limits is that I believe that it will force the legislature to pass public financing, or at least refer it to the voters.

    While I support the concept of contribution limits, I reserve the right to study the details. I was a very strong supporter of Meas. 9 campaign finance reform--there the day the signatures were turned in. I am glad it passed. But as I recall there was some sort of clinker in the wording encouraging people to be sole sponsors of neighborhood events (coffees, etc.) instead of 2 sponsors like my neighbor and I had once done years ago. As for "forcing the legislature" to do anything, from debating the budget in public to passing (or passing a referral of ) public financing, tell me who will be elected in Nov. and I will tell you if I think it has a snowball's chance in July of happening.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    Jenni,

    Please keep posting on this. Your comments demonstrate very well how people engaged in political fundraising become coopted by the process. They need to pay office expenses; make payroll; communicate with contributors, volunteers, and the public; and supply coffee and cookies to volunteers. They need to keep their contributors happy. Suggesting that these folks who pay the bills are subverting democracy is not a good career move.

    There are many wonderful people working with progressive political groups and campaigns. I value their work highly, but their opinions on campaign finance reform should be regarded with the same skepticism as a pusher's opinions on drug regulation.

    blue wrote:

    "That's all I'm going to say about Campaign Reform. Frankly, there are bigger fish to fry."

    I believe there are no bigger fish for democrats than CFR. Political money is a very big rotting fish that is stinking up the political process.

    .

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    I believe there are no bigger fish for democrats than CFR. Political money is a very big rotting fish that is stinking up the political process.

    Point taken.

  • Tom Chamberlain, President, Oregon AFL-CIO (unverified)
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    A couple of bigger picture comments here:

    Even the most well meaning proposals still leave us outgunned by mega corporations and the ultra rich. They have the resources to find loopholes or to fund independent expenditures like Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in 2004, or the Sinclair media conglomerate. Admittedly those are national examples, but we have plenty of ultra-rich right wingers here too – Dick Wendt, Wes Armatta, Loren Parks – all of whom can and will fund independent expenditures to their hearts’ content.

    Furthermore, the fact that Corporations are considered people for the purposes of speech is absurd. But because of Supreme Court precedent, keeping corporations from being considered people would require a Constitutional amendment. That’s a big, multi-year battle -- but that’s what’s really necessary. We need fundamental national change of the very foundations of campaigns – not state-by-state nips at the edges that dis-empower working people.

  • Charlie in Gresham (unverified)
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    Corporations are made up of nothing but people...what do you propose they are if not a group of people owning shares of the enterprise?

    Aliens? Illegal aliens? EGADS! Undocumented capitalists?

    QUICK!!! CALL I.C.E now!!!

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    A corporation should be an entity, not a "person."

    You should hear Thom Hartmann talk on this topic. Apparently the legality of it being a "person" starts from a mistake, and then was upheld in later Supreme Court runnings based on that mistake.

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    Corporations are made up of nothing but people...what do you propose they are if not a group of people owning shares of the enterprise?

    Corporations are fictitious entities that are constructed to provide liability protections for real people. They did not have rights as persons prior to 1877 when they were granted "personhood rights" under the 14th Amendment which was intended to guarantee racial equality after the Civil War. They didn't gain these rights by any court decision, but by clerical fiat in Santa Clara vs the Union Pacific Railroad. Subsequently, they have been granted more rights than individuals over the last 100 years.

    However, contrary to what Mr Chamberlain said, they do not have a recognized legal right to contribute to political campaigns, and have been barred from doing so in Federal elections since the 1930's. Petition 37 will make Oregon law match federal law with regard to corporations.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    Hi, Tom Chamberlain,

    Thanks for joining the conversation. Petition 37, unlike Rep. Peter Buckley's Petition 150, limits independent expenditures. The question is whether the limits would be upheld in court. Dan Meek thinks they would; Peter Buckley doesn't. Petition 37 stops both corporations and unions form direct contributions. I believe unions would be much more successful raising money through the small donor committees than would corporations. So, although the wealthy will still try to throw their weight around, I think P37 would level the playing field considerably.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Sorry, I think the definition of a person is one that breathes, thinks, communicates vocally--voice, phone, writing, etc. --a person lives and dies. No corporations died on 9/11 or in Katrina, but their personnel may have died in those or other disasters. All those who comment on Blue Oregon are people, not corporate entities.

    My concern about low limits (and I won't get into which petition I think does what because I am not sure) is the large rural districts. In some districts I imagine it is easy to rack up hundreds of miles of driving. And with today's gas prices, I imagine lots of vehicles causing the drivers to spend $10-$15 or more for every hundred miles or so driven (how much per gas tank, how much of a tank of gas is used driving every hundred miles?).

    Urban candidates might not worry about that so much, but I have heard concern from rural folks that if the limits are too low they might end up with contributions which wouldn't cover driving the length or perimeter of the district.

    My guess is some people might be more worried about that than whether limits on those pesky Indepdent Expenditures (which I agree are a problem) would be upheld in court.

  • (Show?)

    Dear Mr. Chamberlain,

    Thanks for contributing to the discussion.

    You might want to talk with your counterpart, Steve Adams, of the Colorado AFL-CIO to check in and see whether he thinks that small donor committees disempowered working people in Colorado before assuming that the reforms proposed in Petition 37 will disempower workers in Oregon. When I talked to him, he was an enthusiastic supporter of how Colorado's law worked for the AFL-CIO despite the fact that he opposed it when it was a public referendum.

    As you may already know, the small donor provision of Colorado's statute was drafted by an attorney connected to the AFL-CIO in conjunction with Derek Cressman who was a principle consultant in the drafting of Petition 37.

    Petition 37 is actually better for Oregon unions than the Colorado statute insofar as the small donor committee provision is concerned. Colorado small donor committees are limited to $4,000 for legislative campaigns and something like $100,000 for the statewides.

    Petition 37 has no such limits.

    What's more, under petition 37, your members can contribute to small donor committees that reflect each level of your organization provided that each division has autonomy to make their own decisions about what candidates to fund.

    In other words, people can give $50 per year to a local small donor committee pac, $50 to a regional small donor committee, and $50 per year to the statewide pac, and neither of them will have any limits on how much they can contribute to political campaigns -- all of this in an environment where the richest right wingers will be limited to $2500 in aggregate on political campaigns, and $10,000 on independent expenditures (yes, I know, the I.E. piece may be struck down in court).

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    Peter Buckley's stated reasons for not supporting Petition 8 and Petition 37 do not make sense to me.

    He says that, if the $10,000 per year limit in Petition 37 on individual independent expenditures is struck down, then somehow that leaves a system worse than now (with no limits on anything) or worse than his Petition 150, which has no limits whatever on independent expenditures. He would prefer a system in which corporations and unions can make unlimited independent expenditures (Petition 150) to a system which bans all corporate and union independent expenditures and seeks to limit individuals to $10,000 per year in independent expenditures.

    The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld such bans on corporations and unions, and the limit on individual independent expenditures would probably draw a court challenge. But we can never limit individual independent expenditures unless we try. Many so-called sophisticated observers predicted with great certainty that the U.S. Supreme Court would strike down the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reforms, but that did not happen.

    Further, he prefers letting any individual contribute $15,000 per year instead of $2,500 per year to candidate campaigns and political committees and says that somehow this justifies his allowing unlimited independent expenditures by corporations and unions. I have never been able to understand that. If, under his rationale, the $10,000 limit in Petition 37 on independent expenditures is struck down, then anyone can make unlimited independent expenditures, and the difference between $15,000 and $2,500 in annual contributions to candidates becomes irrelevant.

    Further, he completely disregards the disclosure requirements in Petition 37, which requires:

        1.     Every campaign ad funded by "independent expenditures" must prominently disclose everyone who contributed $1,000 or more to the "independent" campaign, their lines of business, and the amounts contributed; and
    
        2.     Anyone making independent expenditures during any 2-year election cycle in excess of $200 must publicly report the expenditures in the same manner and schedule as a political committee must report.
    

    Petition 37 requires that the disclosures in the ads (known as "taglines") must be very prominent and very clear. The ads cannot merely state they are sponsored by "People for Good Government" or "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth." They must disclose the names, business interests, and amount contributed by each person contribution $1,000 or more to the independent campaign. These mandatory taglines will make independent ad campaigns far less effective. Peter's Petition 150 has no such requirements.

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    Tom Chamberlain appears to be criticizing a proposal that is not ours.

    He says that "mega corporations and the ultra rich" would still outgun us. Petition 37 bans all corporate contributions and all corporate independent expenditures, and the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld those bans. It is Peter Buckley's Petition 150 that does not allow any limits on independent expenditures (see above). As for the ultra rich, Petition 37 limits individual independent expenditures to $10,000 per year, with very extensive disclosure (tagline) and reporting requirements. Buckley's Petition 150 also does not have these features.

    We certainly do not need an amendment to the U.S. Constitution in order to ban all corporate contributions and independent expenditures to support or oppose candidates. The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld the federal ban on corporate contributions for almost 100 years. 24 states already ban corporate contributions, and none of those bans has been struck down. In 1990, the U.S. Supreme Court in <u>Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce</u> upheld a ban on corporate independent expenditures to support or oppose candidates. In 2003, the Court in the McConnell decision (upholding McCain-Feingold) reiterated the continuing vitality of the <u>Austin</u> case.

    Tom Chamberlain implies that our measures "nip at the edges" and "dis-empower working people." Conversely, Peter Buckley's critique of our measures is that they take too large a bite, not too small. And there is nothing about Petitions 8 and 37 that disempower working people. They would accomplish exactly the opposite.

    picture comments here:

    Even the most well meaning proposals still leave us outgunned by mega corporations and the ultra rich. They have the resources to find loopholes or to fund independent expenditures like Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in 2004, or the Sinclair media conglomerate. Admittedly those are national examples, but we have plenty of ultra-rich right wingers here too – Dick Wendt, Wes Armatta, Loren Parks – all of whom can and will fund independent expenditures to their hearts’ content.

    Furthermore, the fact that Corporations are considered people for the purposes of speech is absurd. But because of Supreme Court precedent, keeping corporations from being considered people would require a Constitutional amendment. That’s a big, multi-year battle -- but that’s what’s really necessary. We need fundamental national change of the very foundations of campaigns – not state-by-state nips at the edges that dis-empower working people.

  • (Show?)

    Kari, please clean up my last post. I accidentally left in there the Tom chamberlain comments that I was referring to. So please delete everything in my post after "...accomplish exactly the opposite." Thanks.

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    LT's rural problem is not a problem with Petition 37, because it exempts from control all amounts collected or spent for personal travel. It totally exempts from controls:

    "Volunteer personal services (including those of the candidate) for which no compensation is asked or given, including unreimbursed travel expenses incidental thereto;"

    In other words, a candidate can spend any amount of her own money on personal travel and can even accept donations to pay for personal travel, which are not counted toward the limits.

  • (Show?)

    As to Jenni's comments on application of the Petition 37 limits to groups such as the Bus Project, our FAQ (pp. 2-3) shows that they do not apply to a wide variety of activities, including 7 categories I listed in an earlier posting.

    Jenni looked at the C&Es for the Bus Project and concludes that Petition 37 would have an effect on the Bus Project, although "blue" rather effectively questioned the magnitude of the effect. The real question, however, is how much of what the Bus Project does via its PAC now needs to be done by a PAC and not by a C4. As noted in my earlier post (and in greater detail in the online FAQ), C4-type activities are essentially not limited by Petition 37. The Bus Project may be doing those activities now by means of its PAC, as it is legal for a PAC to do those activities and there is a tax benefit for the first $50 per person for contributions to the PAC but not for contributions to a C4. Under Petition 37, those activities would be undertaken by a non-PAC C4 and would not be limited by Petition 37. Then the PAC would undertake those activities that must be done by a PAC, such as directly canvassing for specific candidates.

    What is the cost of doing that, specifically? There is the cost of the bus (renting?) and the driver and some meals for the canvassers. All of the time of the volunteers is not limited or even counted by Petition 37. If the bus riders pay a fare, that does not count as a contribution to the PAC, as it consists of unreimbursed travel expense (not counted by Petition 37). There is the cost of sending emails or mail to people to ask them to volunteer. It would be fair to allocate some part of the personnel costs of the Bus Project to the candidate canvassing activity. There may well be other costs, and perhaps the Bus Project would be kind enough to provide them.

    In sum, just because an entity is currently performing a function via a PAC does not mean that, under Petition 37, that same function cannot be performed by a non-PAC that is not limited by Petition 37. For example, the various events that the Bus Project sponsors for discussions of issues could be performed by a non-PAC. Certainly the Rebooting Oregon Conference could be sponsored by a non-PAC.

    Jenni says our FAQ is misleading about the Bus Project, because, she says, "Their FAQ says that the Bus Project won't be affected." The FAQ does not say that and never has. The FAQ at pp. 2-3 presents a detailed explanation about what any group can do. No one from the Bus Project has ever asked us about Petition 37 or how it would work or how it would affect their operations. All we have seen is the bare statement that Petition 37 would de-fund the Bus Project. We do not know the basis for that statement, and we correctly say that that statement is not true. If the basis is what Jenni says, then we answer that at pp. 2-3 of the FAQ. Jenni also says "They've said over and over in the blog entry that it won't affect the Bus Project." Neither I nor anyone else has made that statement in this blog. We certainly do not try to single out the Bus Project in our literature; we just respond to the incorrect charges. We did not "bring it up first." In this blog, Peter Buckley brought it up first, and Jenni brought it up second. We just responded.

    Jenni notes some folks give more than $500 a year to the Bus Project. If the Bus Project assigns its non-PAC activities to a non-PAC, those folks can continue to contribute as much as they want to the non-PAC activities, including all of the 7 categories from my earlier posting. Further, those folks can each contribute $500 to a Bus Project regular PAC and $50 to a Bus Project small donor committee and a total of up to $2,500 per year to other small donor committees, which in turn can contribute all of their funds to the Bus Project, if they want to.

    And, as Blue has noted, Jenni does not consider the effect of Petition 37 on those who oppose the candidates that the Bus Project likes. They get the vast majority of their contributions from corporations and in large amounts from wealthy individuals. Those contributions would indeed be banned (or limited to $2500 per person per year), and those candidates would suffer a far, far greater loss of funding. This will make the grass-roots activities of the Bus Project more effective, as they will have less to overcome (in the way of TV and radio ads, newspaper ads, and the constant direct mail that the big donors provide for the Republicans in contested races).

    <h2>And, if the $2,500 maximum is too low, the Legislature by a 3/4 vote can increase it. Petition 37 is a statute. But the data shows that, as the level of contribution per individual increases, those contributions go to Republicans, not Democrats.</h2>
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