A Question for the SOS Candidates

Nick Wirth

There’s 175 days to go until the 2008 primary elections, and the Democratic race for Secretary of State has already begun in earnest. We now have four State Senators vying for the nomination, and how to differentiate between them has already become a topic of discussion. All four candidates tout their various accomplishments in the state legislature as important qualifications in the race. All four highlight priorities such as protecting our schools’ funding and assuring quality state auditing. Yet I can’t help but notice that conspicuously absent from these issues is a thorough look at campaign finance reform.

This absence is all the more notable because protecting our elections from the undue influence of money has proved to be on many voters’ minds. Campaign finance reform has been an important issue in Oregon’s recent history; from Portland’s public finance system to Measures 46 and 47. If anything these have served to only spark more debate on the subject. How to fairly regulate the influence of money in politics remains an open question.

On their websites at least, all four candidates seem to focus on the Secretary of State’s role as auditor rather than as the guardian of our democratic process. Obviously, this is an important role in itself, but the candidates must do more than just pay lip service to the electoral process. Their websites discuss keeping our elections “fair” and “transparent”, but I for one would like to their detailed plans for achieving fair and transparent elections.

Of course, the Secretary of State doesn’t have the power to change campaign finance laws at his or her sole discretion. That responsibility falls to the legislature, or voters themselves via ballot measures. Even so, I would expect any person holding the office to tirelessly fight for reforms upholding the quality of our electoral process. As the caretaker of our elections, the Secretary of State has a powerful voice with which to advocate for electoral reform. Personally, I would find it hard to support a candidate without knowing how they would use this influence.

I don’t mean to simply criticize the candidates; they have had notable achievements during their time in office. Rather, I challenge all four candidates to fully explain their stance on campaign finance reform. What reforms should be implemented, and as Secretary of State what will they do to ensure these reforms are made? Or, if they like the status quo, why shouldn’t the system be reformed?

I hope that in the near future we will see all of these candidates thoroughly address these questions. They are central to the election, but even more importantly they are central to the future of Oregon’s democracy.

  • Barry Edwards (unverified)
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    I wonder if the candidates are intentional NOT discussing what may be an extremely important duty of the next Oregon Secretary of State, presiding over the likely redistricting of Oregon's Congressional Districts after the 2010 Census.
    Oregon is likely to gain another US House seat after the census. This is an issue where the Secretary of State DOES have significant power. It has the potential to be just as important to "the future of Oregon's democracy" as campaign finance reform. I would challenge the candidates to express their views on the re-districting process.

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    I have to second Barry's general point on this "Question": what does it have to do with the job of Secretary of State?

    Whatever influence the SoS has with how the legislature and the courts deal with campaign finance is small. Absurdly small. So why is this Andy's litmus test for the SoS position?

    And, quite frankly, the idea that campaign finance reform - interesting topic that it is - is somehow "central" to Oregon's democracy is obviously overheated. Compared to big states, Oregon's elections are extremely local. You can still get elected here by knocking on doors.

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    Getting elected by knocking on doors may still be a reality in Oregon but that doesn't negate the impact that big money interests play in our system. Campaign finance is an important issue, as is the redistricting issue. I would like to see some discussion from the candidates on both of these issues. All of the candidates are accomplished legislators but I haven't the foggiest idea what really differentiates one from the other. Responses on topics like these could really show us why one should be chosen over the others.

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    I'd love to see a guest post from each of the candidates on what, if anything, they plan to propose to address campaign finance reform. We all know they will implement current law - what changes, if any, will they be providing leadership on.

    Campaign finance reform is not a panacea for democracy, but it is not irrelevant either, especially given that Oregon is an I&R state.

  • John Reed (unverified)
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    While I agree that redistricting is certainly the most important job of the SoS, it is also true that the office of SoS can affect potential Campaign Finance and Electoral Reform Legislation. Support or opposition from the SoS office can determine, and has determined, the fate of bills in the legislature - just ask the proponents of IRV or Fusion Voting.

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    Barry -- If the governor and the state legislature are controlled by the same party, it's likely that the Secretary of State will play a minor role in redistricting. It only falls to the SOS if the Governor and Lege can't agree.

  • Barry Edwards (unverified)
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    Kari makes a good point about the controlling party ... the Republicans have taught us this idea nationally. However, with two more elections before the likely redistricting is to occur, and dissatisfaction in the Democratic Party nationally, it's not written-in-stone that Democrats will control the Governor's Office and the Legislature in 2011. Likely perhaps, but so we have thought about other elections and measures in recent years ...
    Progressives still have much work to do in this state and the nation. Attacking both fronts (campaign reform and redistricting) sounds like the prudent approach.

  • Frank Carper (unverified)
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    Folks:

    The Secretary of State does NOT do Congressional redistricting in Oregon, only state legislative redistricting IF the governor and legislature fail to agree upon a plan.

    As for the campaign finance issue, Nick, you are asking the Democratic nominees to go on record for limits, which do not limit the money in a race only the ability for the public to follow the money? You are asking them to go on record on limits and public financing (which I like), though the voters have soundly rejected both on the ballot in recent years?

    Why not ask them to speak to the issue of our current system without limits or public financing and ask them how they are going to continue the massive improvements started by the current SoS? Then you are not bashing the current resident of the office to get info on an issue that will only be central in this race to political junkies.

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    Frank, I don't see Nick here asking them to support donation limits. I see him asking an open question:

    How to fairly regulate the influence of money in politics remains an open question. ... Even so, I would expect any person holding the office to tirelessly fight for reforms upholding the quality of our electoral process. ... What reforms should be implemented, and as Secretary of State what will they do to ensure these reforms are made?

    That's a fair question, and one that the candidates should address. Some of them will likely come out for donation limits, while others will argue for other systems - perhaps a state version of Portland's voluntary system, perhaps just better disclosure, etc.

    Good question, Nick.

    Full disclosure: My company built Kate Brown's website, but I speak only for myself.

  • Travis Diskin (unverified)
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    Frank,

    The campaign finance ballot measure 47 passed with great support (55%,) and the SoS disregarded all of the elements of it.

    It is a fair question to ask the candidates where they stand on the issue.

  • Miles (unverified)
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    If the governor and the state legislature are controlled by the same party, it's likely that the Secretary of State will play a minor role in redistricting. It only falls to the SOS if the Governor and Lege can't agree.

    Kari and Frank: If Dems control everything, would the legislature ask the SoS to draft an initial redistricting plan for them to use as a starting point? I would assume they would do so since the SoS is the "elections expert", but perhaps not.

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    Frank - Kari's right, my intention was to ask an open question on how they would approach campaign finance reform, not specify donation limits or public financing. I just want to know how the candidates feel on those issues.

  • Frank Carper (unverified)
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    Nick and Kari - Maybe I read this the wrong way or maybe just read too far into it. Sorry, I didn't intend to erode my "credibility" here and will place myself on grounding.

    Travis - I thought the law was disregarded because that's how it was crafted (unless constitutional measure passed or was otherwise altered to allow limits, the all elements of the other was to be codified and ignored until such time it allowed limits)? That's what the court agreed the only thing that could have been meant, right? In any event, I didn't say it was an unfair question.

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    Miles -- yes, that's possible. But more than likely, it would be the elections division providing a technical service - more than the Secretary of State designing his/her own map.

    I was the co-chair of the citizens committee for the redistricting at Metro. The GIS staff did tremendous work developing maps, but it's largely technical work. I'd send 'em a map of the region with lines drawn in crayon - and they'd come back with, "well, that one is too big, and that one is too small, but here's a version that keeps faith with your concept but has correct population totals."

  • Steve Maurer (unverified)
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    Well, I happen to know that Brad thinks there is too much money in politics and is amenable to making some form of limitation on it. I don't know where Kate stands on the issue. Probably about the same.

    Although I've narrowed it down to one of those two, I don't think I agree with either of them. But that's another thing entirely.

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    Well, I happen to know that Brad thinks there is too much money in politics and is amenable to making some form of limitation on it.

    I like Brad Avakian. Unfortunately, his proposed remedy, to limit spending by political campaigns, is unconstitutional and has been for 30 years. Oregon once had the kind of limits he is proposing but they were repealed in the legislature right around the time the US Supreme Court ruled on Buckley v Valeo in the 1970's.

    I don't know where Kate stands on the issue. Probably about the same.

    My understanding from folks in Common Cause, LWV, a business lobbyist I recently spoke with, and other groups, is that Kate Brown has blocked every effort in the Senate to even hold a hearing on any type of campaign finance reform -- be it contribution limits or voter-owned elections.

    Also, Frank is dead wrong when he asserts that voters in Oregon have "soundly rejected" contribution limits. Statutory limits on campaign contributions have passed by large margins every time they have been put in front of Oregon voters.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Let's make the question more specific.

    The Public Comm. on the Legislature http://www.leg.state.or.us/pcol/

    came out with some specific election reforms. Some make sense to at least some Oregonians, others are so controversial that "them's fightin' words!" might not be off the mark in describing them.

    One has to do with the role of "pass throughs". Specifically, if I send a check to Re-Elect John Doe, whose property is that check legally, and what may be done with that check?

    There were some PCOL members who said the check legally belongs to Re-Elect John Doe and can only be used for campaign expenses (travel, postage, salaries, office rent, etc.) and not for anything else----including NOT sending that money to any other political entity like another candidate.

    I would like to know where the candidates stand on the PCOL proposals, and that is more specific than just the general topic of campaign finance reform.

  • Chuck Butcher (unverified)
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    This topic always seems to come up and the issue is big money buying elections. That is actually pretty true, but...

    How many poster and commenters have contributed? There is the Constitutional remedy. It interferes with exactly no one's speach and at $20 a shot from a majority of voters would end big money's primacy in influence.

    Did every advocate of reform contribute? Simple question.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Sal is right Also, Frank is dead wrong when he asserts that voters in Oregon have "soundly rejected" contribution limits. Statutory limits on campaign contributions have passed by large margins every time they have been put in front of Oregon voters.

    In 1994, voters passed a campaign finance measure later thrown out by the Supreme Court. That 1994 measure collected signatures in all 36 counties and passed in all 36 counties.

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    Fortunately, Sal, you don't need to rely solely on the oracular utterances of Common Cause etcetera.

    I have not asked Kate about the state and federal implication of getting another M 46 passed but:

    Kate has a paper trail in the leg regarding her commitments on this issue.

    From her campaign website:

    In 2005, then Senate Majority Leader Kate Brown sponsored and championed HB 3458 which required all contributions and expenditures to be reported to the Secretary of State's office within a rolling 30 day time period and created the ORESTAR system. Democracy for Oregon explains in today's press release: "The study highlights ORESTAR's continuous reporting feature, unique in the country, that requires disclosure of any transaction seven days rather than waiting for a reporting deadline.

    As Senate Minority Leader she seems to have been doing what we haven't yet gotten from our national Senate leadership, which was.....I guess........to actually lead.

    She also kicked some sand into the freewheeling and intellectually dishonest initiative petition signature gathering process, by shepherding HB2082 through the senate.

    (Yep, I know that these are both House Bills as in the normal course of things stuff moves from the House to the Senate and rarely the other way around.)

    Finally, she led the Dem takeover of the state senate, just as Jeff Merkley did on the house side. You will never move toward an Arizona style (or Multnomah County style) publicly funded election system without the support of a Dem majority in both houses.

    Dsiclaimer: I support Kate Brown (just in case you didn't gather that from my post).

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    I am all for a good discussion of campaign financing. But does not the Secretary of State succeed the Governor if the Governor dies, resigns or is incapacitated. If that is still the case, then questions on any important issue are important, not just those programs administered by the Secretary of State's office. So I'd like to hear the candidates' views on the big issues facing Oregon too.

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    Pat - There is a difference between the disclosure laws proposed by Bill Bradbury's office that Brown is taking credit for, and laws that actually impact the finance of campaigns (i.e., contribution limits, public finance). I have it from multiple sources, including legislators, that Brown refused to permit Senate hearings on contribution limits or public finance in the Senate. One look at her C&E's should tell you why.

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    Dave Porter:

    Correct, the SOS is next in line for the governor's office. I remember people joking around after California's recall that we wouldn't see the Republicans try that anytime soon here in Oregon since they wouldn't want to see Bradbury in the governor's office.

    I'm not sure that many people outside of blogs like this understand how important the SOS position really is.

    It was great to see Bradbury testifying in committee just about every time I went down to Salem to do the same thing.

  • Grant Schott (unverified)
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    I had the pleasure (not) of working as a state senate campaign manager in 1996 for my first job out of college under the '94 campaign finance law. It was misery. We could only accept $100 donations from individuals or PACS. My candidate, and I'm sure many others, had to dig into their savings to pay the bills and my already low pay fell to about $1,000 a month. The PACS ended up running their own high dollar independent expenditure campaigns, which was perfectly legal. It backfired on Democrats, because the Rs ran against then OEA president John Danileson as the puppet master of the Democrats.

    I wouldn't mind limits more like the national limit of $2,300. One hundred dollars is insane, though. There simply aren't enough donors to step up to adequately fund low contribution campaigns. If the Common Cause Types can help us dig up a few hundred thousand donors, maybe it would be more realistic.

    I'm so glad that voters last year rejected the constitutional amendment that would have declared speech as money and allowed the other campaign finance measure to be enacted.

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    But does not the Secretary of State succeed the Governor if the Governor dies, resigns or is incapacitated. If that is still the case...

    Not only is that still the case, but a large number of Secretaries of State have later run for Governor. Phil Keisling and Bill Bradbury are, so far, rare exceptions - but here's the rest of the Secretaries of State and their gubernatorial aspirations over the last 50 years.

    • Barbara Roberts ran in 1990 and won.
    • Norma Paulus ran in 1986 and lost.
    • Clay Myers ran in 1974 and lost.
    • Tom McCall ran in 1966 and won.
    • Howell Appling... didn't run for governor. (In fact, he was appointed Secretary of State, and didn't run for re-election.)
    • Mark Hatfield ran in 1958 and won.
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    I'm so glad that voters last year rejected the constitutional amendment that would have declared speech as money and allowed the other campaign finance measure to be enacted.

    Grant, you seem to have turned the Constitutional Amendment on its head.

    The Oregon court decided in 1996 that campaign finance laws that had been on the books from the early 20th Century until the mid-1970's were unconstitutional on the basis that money = speech in Oregon.

    The Constitutional Amendment that was defeated in 2006 said that the People of Oregon, or the Oregon legislature through a 3/4ths majority, may place limits on campaign contributions in Oregon.

    Measure 46 would have severed the link between money and speech in Oregon, not codified it into law.

  • pete sorenson (unverified)
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    hello blue oregon, i'm involved with the effort to bring "voter owned" elections to Oregon. Under the name, VOTER OWNED OREGON, we wrote to all declared and undeclared candidates for secretary of state and asked their opinion of "voter owned" elections. walker, avakian and brown all responded that they would like to talk further. metsger and starr (the only republican) did not respond. for more information on our proposal, please email me at [email protected] i am bringing an arizona state senator to oregon in january to discuss how "voter owned" elections works in that state, which adopted the system by public vote in 1998. thanks, pete sorenson, eugene, oregon

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    Grant,

    I ran for the legislature in 1996 under the $100 limit. Raising money was difficult, but the plan could have evolved into a workable system over time. With the limits declared unconstitutional in 1998, we returned to the candidate buying free for all we have now. I much preferred the $100 limit, which did not make me feel I was selling shares in a business enterprise whenever I raised campaign funds.

    Whatever limits the legislature and/or voters want, we cannot have without a change to the Oregon Constitution. That change would need to be similar to Measure 46 in a basic way. Some folks say they support public financing, but everywhere that system operates at the state level also have contribution limits in place to control the outlays of matching public monies.

    The alternative is to accept the current corrupt-to-the-core system of sovereignty by election purchase. I will never accept that. I hope that you don't either.

    I realize that limits on political money can look unattractive to someone who wants to earn a living doing politics; but sometimes democracy, freedom, and good government require personal sacrifice. Some make that sacrifice in military service; others by working for campaign finance reform.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Tom, thanks for your input.

    About this, ". That change would need to be similar to Measure 46 in a basic way. " That may be true, but....

    As someone who supported the 1994 measure, I had one basic problem with Measure 46: the attitude by some of the proponents that 46 and 47 were perfect and no one should debate the details because it was such a great idea.

    I believe discussing details is important.

    There were a few things about the 1994 law which could have used some tweaking--for instance, the practice of 2 neighbors co-hosting a candidate coffee (as has been done in our neighborhood) became more complex if not impossible. But I agree with you that it was a good idea. As I recall, reporter Mark Hass once did a story on Ryan Deckert having a level playing field to run as a young man against a well known opponent for an open seat because of the 1994 measure becoming law.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    Pat,

    Timely contribution disclosure is a good thing, but it cannot prevent money from buying elections or governmental behavior. Voters are effected much less by C&E information that they are by the blizzard of campaign advertising that big money can buy, even if that money comes straight from Satan without a pass through.

  • Grant Schott (unverified)
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    Sal - You're right, I misspoke, money has been protected as speech which I guess the voters upheld by defeating 46. I think that is better than what I see as the restrictive limits of 47 ($100 cap for legislative races). I the cap were something like $1,000 or $2,000 I wouldn't have such problem with it.

    Tom, I don't know if you had to spend much of your own money, but most candidates without substantial PAC donations end up doing just that. I helped Jim Gilbertson in Dist. 59 last year who almost won. Jim was a fairly disciplined candidate at making himself sit down and call for money, but lives in a relatively poor district and isn't connected to most of it, as it covers five counties. He only received about four PAC donations, under $500 each. Jim ended up raising about $10,000 and spending nearly $20,000 of his own. He was able to spend it as effectively as any candidate ever has and sent four mailings to his opponent's one (even though Dallum spent twice as much.) Another candidate in the district, Democrat Linda Harrinton in 2000, raised $70,000, but only sent a couple of mailings. I don't know what she spent her money on.

    Although most of Jim's donation ere $100 and under he did receive maybe twenty donations over that , including $500 each from the Deschutes County Dems and his three kids. Are those special interests? Is that "big money?" If the '94 limits were in effect, Jim would only have raised about $7,500. Running for office is tough enough as it is, and I refuse to support measures making it tougher on these candidates by instating the ridiculously low limit of $100 per donor. Rich candidates like Gordon Smith and Jay Rockefeller can afford to dip into their savings. Candidates like Jim Gilbertson shouldn't be forced to do that.

    I would also add that anti war candidiates Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern were able to take off in the early primaries in '68 and '72, largely because they had a few big anti war donors who gave them the equivilant of voer $1 million each.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    LT,

    I can't think of anyone, including M46/47 author Dan Meek, who thought they were perfect. The measures were the product of compromise, much of it with the unions who later spent big to defeat the measures.

    As you know, once an initiative makes the ballot it is a matter of voting yes or no. Anyone interested in seeing a measure pass will argue for it, not give people reasons to vote against it. And, as you can see, no one, not the unions, not the progressive non-profits, not the self-professed pro-CFR legislators has done diddley to get a "perfected" version of M46 through the legislature or on the ballot. My guess is that they never will, because they are not sincere supporters of reform, but rather feel obliged to support a progressive idea in the abstract while they work to make sure that idea never comes to fruition.

    What has happened - or not happened - since last year validates my position that M46 and M47 were our only chance for effective campaign finance reform in the near future. I never thought the measures were perfect, but I've never been one to make the perfect the enemy of the good. Many Oregon progressives did that on the Fair Elections measures. Ironically, many of those same progressives argue enthusiastically for working within the system for what is often the lesser of two evils.

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    Tom,

    Of course I agree that a 46 like amendment needs to be done before we can get anywhere really revolutionary. I argue that point with any and all politicians that I talk to, but it is not my sole measurement of an effective candidate. I'm clear that passage will set Oregon up for a huge constitutional fight at the national level and chances of sustaining such a law, given the current makeup of the Supremes, are very low.

    Still, I think that the Arizona/MultCo model is a very positive step in the right direction and I'll also continue to advocate for that as well.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    Grant,

    In 1996, I ran on what I raised. I paid for my campaign office, which was in my basement, my gasoline, and the shoes I wore out. Absolute amounts of campaign money mean little. It is the relative amounts that determine the winner in almost all cases. The Voters Pamphlet is cheap. Walking door to door is cheap. Email is cheap. Candidate forums are cheap. It is media buys that are expensive and that determine winners in the present system. Much of that media is garbage of little value to the voter trying to make an informed decision on the important issues and candidate qualifications.

    If you read M47, which was passed by Oregon voters, you will find that there are groups who can give larger contributions to candidates. These include parties and committees that take only small contributions for bundling [think labor unions]. M47 was crafted to soften the revenue shock experienced in 1996, and still prevent the wholesale purchase of offices that holds today.

    For every great candidate who did not win, such as McGovern and Gene McCarthy, there are many who did win with the ample backing of nefarious interests who got there way and continue to get their way. I've been around long enough to recognize the taste of a make believe democracy. I hunger for the real thing.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Tom, the most interesting opposition I heard to Measure 46& 47 was not from unions. It was from someone who would sympathize with Grant as someone involved in Democratic politics E. of the Cascades.

    Whatever the sponsors think, I don't believe $100 per donor is a good idea given the amount of money it costs these days just for the gas to drive across a large district. Even in the Willamette Valley, legislative districts can cover parts of 2 or more counties, and not everyone who admires a Democratic candidate can afford to contribute $100. In some of the rural parts of even Willamette Valley districts, "walking door to door" is tough if the distance between those doors is measured in fractions of miles or whole miles. Think of the farmers who supported Measure 49, for instance. Hard to imagine "walking door to door" between their farms.

    Call it a philosophical debate if you wish. There are those of us who support campaign finance reform but also support limits large enough so that candidates can spend at least as much time in voter contact as in "dialing for dollars". What I recall of the Measure 46 & 47 debate (as someone not as deeply involved in politics then as I had been some years) was an attitude of "if you truly support campaign finance reform, you won't question the dollar limits".

    Such measures are as likely to pass through word of mouth as by support from the politically connected. And is someone who supports the concept but thinks the dollar limit too low really going to ask friends, relatives, fellow church members, members of a nonpolitical social network (book club, health club, quilting group, sports parents, etc.) to support a measure they have practical questions and mixed feelings about?

    I understand the frustration---I was one of the few people who sat through all the hearings of the bill in the 1989 session, and was offended by how many Democrats either actively opposed or said it was not a priority. But I also don't like the feeling of certitude I got from the 46/47 debate that any "true" supporter of campaign finance reform wouldn't question whether the dollar amounts were too low.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    LT,

    The contribution limits in M47 were, as I wrote, a matter of compromise among those who took part in the discussions leading to the petition that was circulated. You did not agree with those amounts, but I cannot fathom your objection to the M47 campaign supporting the measure as it was written. Can you name any ballot measure campaigns of the last 100 years that suggested that their measure was not so great, but that they'd like your vote anyway? If you know anything about politics, you know that measures are defeated by creating doubts in voters' minds. Measures win by dispelling doubts. The tobacco companies defeated M50 by suggesting that a tax does not belong in the constitution. The unions and corporations defeated M46 by suggesting that limiting campaign contributions limited free speech, even though the US First Amendment and the constitutions of the other 49 states allow limits.

    As far as the contribution limits in themselves, you and Grant are making judgments based on today's campaigns. Campaigning would change to adapt to new conditions. Perhaps the legislature would appropriate funds for an expanded Voters Pamphlet that would allow more information from candidates. Perhaps voters clamoring for more candidate communication would approve a voluntary publicly funded campaign system. Perhaps media outlets would increase their editorial coverage of campaigns when the huge profits from campaign ads were no longer possible. Perhaps more civic organizations would sponsor candidate debates. At any rate, I still cannot understand how doubts about the size of contribution limits can override the need to stop wealthy interests from buying influence with elected officials - influence that is often diametrically opposed to the interests of the people.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Tom, you miss my point. As I understand, the House district you ran in was basically Milwaukie. Just a guess, but I suspect there isn't a lot of distance between the houses.

    The district I live in is part urban/part rural. It is at least a 25 mile drive across the district. Other districts have longer distances (Dist. 25 is Keizer, Newberg, St. Paul, and all the land in between, for instance).

    At current gas prices, driving around the district would eat up $100 fairly fast.

    You said "As far as the contribution limits in themselves, you and Grant are making judgments based on today's campaigns. Campaigning would change to adapt to new conditions........At any rate, I still cannot understand how doubts about the size of contribution limits can override the need to stop wealthy interests from buying influence with elected officials - influence that is often diametrically opposed to the interests of the people. "

    I happen to think that talking face to face with voters is more productive than being on the phone dialing for dollars, perhaps calling people who may or may not understand the district. Even a $500 limit would be better.

    It seems that under a $100 limit, the ordinary citizen without a lot of political connections faces a choice of asking interest groups for donations, asking lobbyists for donations, bugging their friends who in some cases they may know can't afford $50, let alone $100, holding lots of fundraisers, more focus on money than if the limits were a bit higher.

    Perhaps we are debating theory vs. practice, but I fail to see how a candidate spending more time dialing for dollars (or dipping into their own savings) because of low contribution limits is what we "need to stop wealthy interests from buying influence with elected officials ".

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    LT - that criticism, offered by Steve Bucknum, was entirely without merit. Unreimbursed travel expenses are explicitly exempted by Measure 47. I pointed Steve to the specific language in the measure that included the exemption on multiple occasions, yet he insisted on repeating the same yarn because, as he put it, he "opposed the measure" and saw no need to correct himself.

  • Grant Schott (unverified)
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    An idea that I would be open to is a state version of the matching funds provision of the 1974 Federal Elections Act, which matches contributions to presidential campaigns dollar for dollar up to $250, with a fairly low threshold to qualify. This system worked for over 20 years and allowed many candidates like Carter in '76 to emerge. Trouble is, it hasn't been indexed for inflation so, high $ candidates like Bush, Hillary, and Obama can do without the ten million they might have received. In addition, the $50-$60 primary limit is now a joke for r those candidates who can raise over $100 million.

    Still, to have an OR system where individual donations under $100, for example, are matched dollar for dollar for legislative candidates (and statewide probably) is an appealing idea to me. I think there are a few states, maybe MN and ME , that have some kind of public finance system. There needs to be an incentive for donors and candidates, instead of low limits with no other funding source.

    I would also agree emphatically with Tom that walking is more effective than paid media, at least for legislative and smaller local races. Jim Gilbertson walked heavily in Jefferson County (an R county that Saxton carried) and won there by 10 points. That was probably more effective than the mailings he sent, not to mention radio and newspaper ads. Regarding media, the small newspapers out there (often Eagle Publishing) tend to be pathetic in their coverage of political campaigns. Candidates are lucky to have one or two stories during the year.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    Sal refers to this section of M47:

    2(i)(4) "Contribution" and "Expenditure" do not include:

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

    I spent little time "dialing for dollars." Instead, I sent thousands of fundraising letters throughout the campaign, which were quite effective in generating under $101 contributions. The time required was minimal. I did campaign in an urban/suburban district, which allowed lots of efficient door-to-door. Remember that whatever impediments exist in a district apply to all candidates. The level playing field is the goal here, not the ease of running a campaign.

    Grant's matching funds suggestion is one way of doing public funding. There are others. Pete Sorenson wrote above about a new effort at that. Public financing is a great idea if it can overcome the "welfare for politicians" meme of opponents.

    If LT knows a way to stop election buying without low contribution limits, I'd love to hear about it.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)
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    Sal writes, "LT - that criticism, offered by Steve Bucknum, was entirely without merit. Unreimbursed travel expenses are explicitly exempted by Measure 47. I pointed Steve to the specific language in the measure that included the exemption on multiple occasions, yet he insisted on repeating the same yarn because, as he put it, he "opposed the measure" and saw no need to correct himself."

    Hi to you too Sal!

    Please --- debating prior failed campaigns or future campaigns not yet started is for the most part a waste of time. But since we are there -

    Sal argued that "unreimbursed" travel was exempted. Let's repeat the key word, "unreimbursed". That is to say, without reimbursement, e.g. others helping you with the expense.

    Yeah, I did then and still have a major problem with any scenario that makes it MORE difficult to campaign in rural Oregon. My State House district covers all of Crook County, which is nearly 3,000 square miles, part of Deschutes County, most if not all of Lake County, a good part of Klamath County, and on over to the west somewhere - I don't have a map in front of me so I'm not 100% sure. Anyway, if memory serves, my House District is around 10,000 square miles. Sure, if I ran for this district I could put my own "unreimbursed" gas in the tank, use my own "unreimbursed" car/oil/tires, etc. -- But compare that with a District in the greater Portland metro area that might be 10 square miles.

    All I have ever asked for is a level playing field.

    ~~ Anyway, this doesn't have a whole lot to do with what the Secretary of State's office is really all about.

    Hasn't anyone else noted that in Oregon's body politic, the Secretary of State is seen as the leading candidate for the next opening for Governor? So, let's go ahead a vet these people as if they were running for Governor. Why not ask them every question one would ask the Governor?

  • (Show?)

    Sal argued that "unreimbursed" travel was exempted. Let's repeat the key word, "unreimbursed". That is to say, without reimbursement, e.g. others helping you with the expense.

    Steve, you are one of the smarter guys I know, but you are badly off base here. And if you think about it a little, you'd see why.

    An unreimbursed travel expense, according to that statute, is an expense for which the campaign makes no reimbursement. If the campaign does reimburse the cost of travel, then by definition, that expense is not a contribution and again is not impacted by the limits.

    As for this business about costs...

    Montana has comparable campaign finance limits to the ones established in Measure 47, yet somehow they manage to campaign in a state that is nearly double the size of Oregon

    You aren't trying to make the case that Eastern Oregon is somehow more rural than rural Montana, are you?

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)
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    Sal writes, "An unreimbursed travel expense, according to that statute, is an expense for which the campaign makes no reimbursement. If the campaign does reimburse the cost of travel, then by definition, that expense is not a contribution and again is not impacted by the limits."

    Exactly. I'm a candidate, and I put gas in my tank using my credit card. I'd sure like my campaign, which is a separate financial entity, to pay me back for that gas. The campaign certainly can reimburse me, but in turn the money available to my campaign for this rather costly expense of travel in a rural district is limited. So, compared to an urban candidate, I would be forced to either 1) not reimburse some of my travel expense or 2) reimburse it but end up spending a much higher percentage of my limited funds on travel than say fliers, signs, radio, TV, print advertising, direct mail, etc. -- This has been my point all along. What you are essentially advocating, is that only independently wealthy people should run for office in rural areas!

    This issue you have raised, that there is not a limit on unreimbursed travel expense, really means little and if anything rather proves my point. My point again - from way back in 2006 was this: The campaign limitations as written then, would impact rural candidates with higher travel expenses in ways that urban candidates are not impacted. Nothing you have said then or now contradicts my point of view on this.

    On Montana - First off, Oregon has about 90,000 square miles and Montana has about 145,000 square miles, so "double" is too strong a term for the difference in size. But Montana does have a notably lower population, to the people per square mile figure is lower for Montana. But keep in mind that 1/5th of Oregon's population is in an area roughly 2/3's of the size of the State. e.g. Eastern Oregon and Montana are somewhat similar in terms of population density. As for your statement that "it works" in Montana - really? Frankly, your saying so doesn't make it so.

    When we do geographic comparisons, we need to do them accurately. Many parts of Montana are characterized by long straight roads that run from horizon to horizon. Many parts of rural Oregon are characterized by twisting roads following rivers and going over mountain passes. Much of Oregon's television in the rural parts of the State can only arrive by cable or satellite (non-local). In Montana - I don't know. I don't know what the newspaper situation is in Montana, nor do I know the radio situation. I'll bet you don't either. So Sal, you've thrown out a rather meaningless point to make a rather meaningless argument.

    When a specific proposal/measure/law is on the table, then let's debate whether it helps or hurts the ability of candidates to campaign in rural areas.

  • (Show?)

    Grant - I think that what voters said is that they support strong limits, and don't understand why the state constitution needs to be amended in order to do it.

    46 other states have contribution limits on the books, and Oregon had contribution limits on the books from the time of statehood through the mid-1970's. The money = speech argument was a new formulation of the court -- one that threatens the very reasonable restrictions on lobbying that were passed in 2007. I do not agree that money = speech, and believe that the court's reasoning will be soundly rejected by Oregon voters the next time they have an opportunity to vote on that issue.

    I am hopeful that the legislature in 2009 will seriously consider referring a constitutional amendment to permit contribution limits in Oregon, and would personally be supportive of a statutory measure that had limits in the $500 range for legislative candidates and $2500 range for the governor's race.

    In the absence of such a remedy, I will support lower limits because I have seen the C&E data and understand exactly how few people and/or entitities actually fund political campaigns in Oregon.

    Chuck's suggestion of donating $20 was a good one, but consider this: In 2006, there were 1232 contributors who gave $10,000 or more to political races in Oregon. If every registered Democrat and Republican (1,420,000 voters) gave $20 to a political candidate in Oregon, the total amount given would be barely half of the amount given by donors who gave more than $10,000.

    In all, there were roughly 43,000 political contributions in 2006 in Oregon. Roughly 2/3rds of the money, $43 million, came from 1200 contributions of individuals and organizations that gave $10,000 or more. Nearly 1/3rd of the money came from 93 individuals or organizations that gave $100,000 or more.

    How much influence does that buy?

    As Tom said, I never regarded 46 or 47 as perfect statutes, but given the choice between allowing the wealthy and the powerful to continue to dominate our political process versus proceeding with an imperfect remedy, I choose the remedy.

    Steve, candidates in the CFR statute are subject to a $10,000 contribution limit -- the lowest limit that could reasonably be defended in court. You will have no luck convincing me that a $10,000 limit somehow benefits rich candidates more than the current environment where candidates have no limit on how much they can spend on their own races.

    The $100 limit is indeed low, but if you actually look at the data of money raised by Democratic candidates in eastern Oregon, I think you will come to the same conclusion I have: It would give Democratic candidates much greater parity with Republicans in rural districts.

    Currently, Republican legislative candidates east of the cascades typically outspend their Democratic opponents by 10-1 or more thanks to large money contributions.

  • (Show?)

    After much internal conflict I ended up voting for M46. Even though M47 was poorly designed, in principal I don't think that reasonable restrictions on campaign donations disproportionately impact free speech, just as restricting prostitution doesn't disproportionately impact freedom of association.

    My problem with M47, beyond the fact that it would have outlawed the Bus Project giving activists free rides on their bus, is that political ads these days is bought in bulk. How much effects do radio ads really have, when you've got Lars Larson being given a mike on a radio station that (because of grandfather clauses) is 5 times as powerful as all others? Or the entire FOX propaganda outfit? None of that is driven by the market. It's driven by the economic interests of the people who can afford to blanket the country with lies.

    And M47 (and restrictions like it) only add to that problem by removing other voices.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Yes, by all means, let us have INTELLIGENT campaign finance reform. Steven is right.

    I believe the Oregon Bus Project revived grass roots (as opposed to the "money is all that matters and only professionals know how the game is played" attitude of too many Democrats) before most of us had ever heard of Howard Dean, and that is why I applaud Steven for saying,

    My problem with M47, beyond the fact that it would have outlawed the Bus Project giving activists free rides on their bus, .

    This may be one of those "perfect is the enemy of the good" situations.

    Even though my state rep. at one point had more money coming in from out of state than the underfunded grass roots challenger had collected in total, I don't see how a poorly written campaign finance reform proposal would have helped the situation. Although my state rep. was re-elected, it was by a smaller than expected margin and people who hadn't worked on legislative campaigns got involved.

    All that said, I got an email from a friend today asking how much campaign finance reform has to do with the Sec. of State race.

    I'm guessing that the the PCOL proposals (nonpartisan elections officer taking those duties from Sec. of State, ban on pass throughs and other regulations of current campaign practices, for instance) have more to do with the Sec. of State race than a debate on 46 and 47.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    Steven,

    Powerful corporate media outlets which favor pro-corporate candidates are a real problem. Unfortunately, the preponderance of big campaign contributions come from pro-corporate interests as well. So M47 limits would quiet the unfairly loud voices much more than they would silence opposing voices.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)
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    Sal writes, "Chuck's suggestion of donating $20 was a good one, but consider this: In 2006, there were 1232 contributors who gave $10,000 or more to political races in Oregon. If every registered Democrat and Republican (1,420,000 voters) gave $20 to a political candidate in Oregon, the total amount given would be barely half of the amount given by donors who gave more than $10,000."

    Okay, I got my calculator out:

    1232 x $10,000 = $12,320,000

    1,420,000 x $20 = $28,400,000.

    So Sal, you said it backwards. The amount given by the $10,000 donors would be half of that given by the $20 donors.

    And this is why I find you hard to follow.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)
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    Now, after pointing out that the "facts" weren't correct, again, back to the real debate.

    Sal writes, "In all, there were roughly 43,000 political contributions in 2006 in Oregon. Roughly 2/3rds of the money, $43 million, came from 1200 contributions of individuals and organizations that gave $10,000 or more. Nearly 1/3rd of the money came from 93 individuals or organizations that gave $100,000 or more.

    How much influence does that buy?"

    You know, I have never disagreed with this point. You might as well argue with the sound of the wind rather than argue with me on this - I don't disagree!

    The devil is in the details. If these campaign finance limits were as simple as a $10,000 limit, a $5,000 limit, or even a $1,000 limit - and that was it - I'd be a supporter.

    The problem is that these measures have been way too complex, establishing way too many rules beyond that. And my analysis of the net result of the measures we had before us last year was that they hurt rural candidates. I'm still there.

    People notice when the rules become too complex. What happens then is that the people with the attorneys end up doing whatever they want, and the rest of us struggle under restrictive laws. Example: tax codes. Example: Oregon's land use laws.

    Simple is better, way better.

    And - average voters can use a calculator.

  • (Show?)

    Steve, re-read my comment. You do understand that there were 1232 contributors who gave $10,000 or more to political races means that there are people who gave more than $10,000, don't you?

    Is there any part of that statement that is unclear? Or did you simply misinterpret what I said in much the same way that you have also made glaring factual errors in your "analysis" of Measure 47?

    As to your comments about the lack of simplicity in Measure 47 -- whether you like it or not, meaningful campaign finance reform that takes legal precedent into account is, by its very nature, complicated.

    To borrow from your example of "what you would support"...

    Let's say that we are going to put a $1000 limit on contributions. Great. Simple. Are you talking about individual contributions to candidates? Contributions by pacs to candidates? Contributions by political parties to candidates? Contributions by candidates to their own campaigns? Independent expenditures? Contributions by corporations to candidates? Labor unions?

    If the answer is all of the above (i.e., the simple solution), then your proposed system is almost certainly unconstitutional since 100 years of legal precedent have allowed different kinds of rights and restrictions on the activities of each of those different entities.

    In short, Measure 47 is complicated because campaign finance law is complicated. A 20 page statute that deals comprehensively with campaign finance law is actually fairly short. Federal statutes on the subject are several thousand pages long. Portland's voter owned elections is at lest 20 pages. Measure 49, which revised Oregon's land-use laws is actually longer and equally difficult to understand if you are not an attorney who specializes in that particular area of the law.

    The fact that you don't understand this particular area of the law is not surprising. You aren't an attorney. You have no experience in campaign finance law.

  • LT (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Sal, I realize both of you and Steve are passionate about this issue. But I don't think you are any more of a lawyer than Steve is, are you?

    "The fact that you don't understand this particular area of the law is not surprising. You aren't an attorney. You have no experience in campaign finance law. "

    Perhaps instead of just talking about contribution limits, there is something which might seem more radical but might work better. End all pass throughs. Whether it is FP or the new House Republican "Promote Oregon" group, whether it is the soft drink bottlers, IBM or OEA, or one of those oddly named groups (my all time favorite, "Let's turn on the lights and see if they scamper committee"), contributions go directly to candidates, and that adds transparency.

    There were PCOL members (incl. old time lobbyists as I recall) who were really offended by the big money spent on ballot measures from out of state, and it was hard to trace the source of the money because it went from one entity to another to another and no one knew the original source.

    And if there are lobbyists or whoever who don't want it known which candidates they are supporting financially, isn't it time we put an end to those games?

    YES, I know big money is a problem. It is a problem when more money from out of state goes to an incumbent than a challenger has collected in total. It is a problem when a group decides one candidate can win (but doesn't) or another candidate can't possibly win (but does or almost does). The power of the Restaurant Assoc. and the beer and wine industry has been very obvious (as in attempts to dilute the min. wage ballot measure result with tip credit, among other things.

    I know the argument that organizations allow people to pool their funds. That's a great theory, but in practice how many people make those decisions? I went to an OEA endorsement convention one year when it was at a hotel in Salem. Votes were taken by a ballroom of delegates. Were they truly representative of all Oregon teachers? Not according to some teachers I know. Is selection of delegates a convoluted process and endorsements get made that the rank and file disagree with?

    Do you folks realize that there has been so much inside baseball politics in such endorsements that in the 1990s when the State Senate passed a bill to end teacher tenure in this state, both the co-authors of the bill had been previously endorsed by the OEA? Something is wrong with that system!

    If DiLorenzo wins his suit against SB 10 and wining and dining turns out to be free speech this could all be moot.

    On the Jeff Mapes blog, Dan Hortsch says there is nothing requiring a lobbyist to take a legislator out to dinner, truly free speech is a conversation in the capitol hallways or a walk around the grounds, and nonprofit lobbyists don't have that kind of money and they deserve to be heard .

    I am not a lawyer but I greatly admire one of the best legal minds on PCOL--someone who got his JD over half a century ago. Someone concerned about the legal status of pass throughs. If all contributions had to be sent directly to campaigns and a candidate could not take money from their contributions and send it to someone else's campaign, that might really shake up the system.

    I just got a "campaign kickoff" fundraiser email with this listed as the admission price:

    Admission: $40 per individual or $400 per lobbyist

    With or without contribution limits, how many candidates for the 60 House seats would have the network to be able to invite the sort of lobbyists who would pay $400? What actual effect (given that a legislator sent out the fundraising email) would the passage of 46 and 47 really have had on that situation?

    And if it is true that the Oregon Bus Project could no longer have given free rides to young people, why was that a good idea? Maybe it is time to discuss such things---discussion is a form of free speech too!

  • (Show?)

    No, LT. I'm not a lawyer. I'm just a guy who worked with the lawyer who drafted that statute and spent probably 200 hours or more in meetings over a period of 3-4 years discussing it with legislators, directors of non-profits, attorneys, good government groups, and activists who have drafted similar initiatives in Colorado, Montana, California, and Ohio.

    It is not true that the Bus project could no longer give free rides. I'm not sure how many times someone can put this portion of the statute in front of people before it finally sinks in:

    2(i)(4) "Contribution" and "Expenditure" do not include: (A) Volunteer personal services (including those of the candidate) for which no compensation is asked or given, including unreimbursed travel expenses incidental thereto;

    The Bus has every right to use its resources to turn volunteers out to bus events, and to then transport interested people to and from canvasses.

    It's unfortunate that some of the groups with a stake in fear-mongering around this issue chose to play fast-and-loose with the facts and that some folks took those assertions at face value.

    But let's be clear about this: I'd be open to higher limits, a shorter statute, or whatever, provided that the end result was meaningful reform. We were prepared to horse trade Measure 47 in favor of a measure for which we could establish broad consensus. We even pulled the measure from circulation for a month as proof of sincerity.

    My biggest hope going forward is that some of the groups involved in that negotiation that claimed to support campaign finance reform, will step forward and make good on the promises that they made to activists during that campaign -- promises where they said that they really do support reform, just not that particular one.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Sal -

    You know, I listen and I listen to you, and what I find is that you throw out lots of interpretations of facts that are suited to your arguments. In doing so, the pattern ultimately is misleading or impossible to follow. You always have a come back answer that makes your issues more complicated, and accuses those that disagree with you of deliberately not understanding your message.

    Hold up a mirror. Perhaps in your communications you should look at the sender, and not the receiver.

    If you want to be effective as a communicator, then you need to simplify and clarify your message. As a good communicator you would approach differences like we have had in terms of finding what we agree upon, and then working to clarify what we don't agree upon.

    I have stated both in this thread and other places that I too agree that there is too much influence from the major donors. I agree that it is a problem that there is more than one way to get money into the system such as direct donations, donations to PACs, donations from trade associations, etc. I also tend towards the position that free speech is more important to preserve on principle than any other consideration, so solutions regarding campaign finance need to be carefully undertaken. I have been very concerned about the practical impact of campaign finance reform upon the reality on the ground for rural candidates.

    But what we have here is not a discussion of principles, constitutional or otherwise. Something else is going on. You are the biggest "Yes, but" player I know. I throw out what I would support, and you throw back why that is impossible. I throw out that all I want is a system that is fair to rural candidates, and you throw out all the reasons why I am insane to say such an outlandish thing. I am often accused of saying or meaning things unsaid and unmeant.

    Where in your position is the part about working to solve anything? You can make a problem infinitely detailed and always find one more "yes, but". However, to get to solutions we need to start with agreement on principles. We need to be inclusive of all that generally agree with what the problem is, and then work to solutions.

    As things stand now, we have too many "camps" in the realm of campaign finance reform. There are those, including me, that are concerned about the few big donors that have too much influence. There are those that are in opposition to any corporate participation in politics. There are those who are control freaks that want all money out of politics. There are those who want publicly supported campaigns. Too many camps, we don’t have a unified starting point.

    And Sal, where do you fit in all of this? Are you part of a solution? Are you part of a meaningful discussion even? No, you just throw out garbage in rapid fire that is impossible to follow. And you insult your friends and supporters along the way. Look in the mirror.

  • LT (unverified)
    (Show?)

    As someone who was involved in the 1994 effort, I think the time may have come to "call out" those who think they can play games with campaign finance reform--and I mean well known names.

    Nothing is solved with arguments against volunteer activists like Steve. But when there are big name people who say one thing and do another, perhaps that should be made public.

    I recall the frustration in 1989 of people at high levels of the state Democratic party saying campaign finance reform wasn't a priority for them because it wasn't important, or something like that. Of course it wasn't important to them--their focus was on big money donors.

    But I must say it is a 2 way street. Sal, that is the first time I have read that

    2(i)(4) "Contribution" and "Expenditure" do not include: (A) Volunteer personal services (including those of the candidate) for which no compensation is asked or given, including unreimbursed travel expenses incidental thereto;

    so don't make cracks about something "finally sinking in".

    Steve has a point " I throw out that all I want is a system that is fair to rural candidates, and you throw out all the reasons why I am insane to say such an outlandish thing. I am often accused of saying or meaning things unsaid and unmeant. " In the real world, it takes a certain number of gallons of gas to go a certain number of miles in a rural district, and at $3 a gallon, that can add up. No matter how much work one has done on campaign finance reform, if a car gets 25 mpg, then every 25 miles the car drives costs $3 in gas plus wear and tear on the car. That is real life, and any campaign which ignores real life doesn't get very far.

    I have been to meetings with people like Lloyd Marbet and Dan Meek, and they don't always seem as interested in persuasion as in "my way or the highway". Yes, one can support campaign finance reform and still have the right to opinions about the individuals involved!

    If there are legislators who talked one way and acted another (esp. any who blocked hearings when they were in the majority), I think their names should be made public.

    I remember how we got the 1994 measure passed, and it was from a position of positive strength. Lots of people get frustrated with lots of different issues in politics.

    My biggest hope going forward is that some of the groups involved in that negotiation that claimed to support campaign finance reform, will step forward and make good on the promises that they made to activists during that campaign -- promises where they said that they really do support reform, just not that particular one.

    My biggest hope is that these people can be spoken to privately

    "some of the groups involved in that negotiation that claimed to support campaign finance reform, will step forward and make good on the promises that they made to activists during that campaign "

    but then their names become public if they are not willing to get off their duff and actively support something that can work . Which includes figuring the cost of gas into how much it costs rural candidates to campaign.

    But don't get into "they supported HB 9999A when all good campaign finance reform supporters wanted HB 999B"--that just strikes ordinary folks as gamesmanship, not solving problems.

  • (Show?)

    LT - That section of the statute has been brought up in nearly every instance on this blog where Steve has discussed travel costs, and in nearly every instance on this blog when someone has said that "this would end Bus trips". I can't say what you have and haven't read, but it has been posted and re-posted in the comments sections of CFR threads on Blue Oregon on numerous occasions.

    My patience for dealing with Steve gave out a long time ago. I can't think of a time when he has actually done anything to move the conversation forward on this issue, nor am I aware of any work that he is done for any campaign finance reform effort in this state.

    In any event, measure 47 passed overwhelmingly in Crook County, despite Steve's opposition. I believe that Crook County actually had the largest percentage of vote in favor statewide. And Measure 47 passed overwhelmingly in Eastern Oregon generally, so it would seem that there are plenty of folks out there -- an overwhelming majority, in fact -- who just don't share Steve's concern that it hurts candidates on that side of the mountains.

  • LT (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Sal, this is less about Steve than about friends closer to home.

    A friend of mine campaigned in a district in 2006 where he showed up to do town halls and people were amazed because they'd never seen a state rep. candidate before--much less a politician willing to ask what they thought and engage in dialogue. His district included the kinds of places where Google estimates over an hour drive to go a bit less than 50 miles because of the shape and makeup of the district.

    I did not hear any discussion of such real world situations in the 46/47 campaign, just a lot about how evil big money is. And while I didn't follow the campaign closely, I am more politically aware than most people.

    I care more about general campaign reform (attitude as well as legislation) than about the wording of a previous measure.

    For instance, Tom is wise when he says,

    In 1996, I ran on what I raised. I paid for my campaign office, which was in my basement, my gasoline, and the shoes I wore out. Absolute amounts of campaign money mean little. It is the relative amounts that determine the winner in almost all cases. The Voters Pamphlet is cheap. Walking door to door is cheap. Email is cheap. Candidate forums are cheap. It is media buys that are expensive and that determine winners in the present system.<<

    But walking door to door when it is a more spread out district like my friend ran in than a district conducive to lots of door to door in a more urban area is something some people don't want to discuss.

    In a future campaign finance reform campaign, it might be wise to say "Yes, we realize rural areas require lots of driving to campaign, and thus we have set the limits high enough that a candidate can get more than one tank of gas using one contribution under the limit".

    The 1994 measure was very carefully drafted using all kinds of experts who looked at language which had passed court muster in other places/ times.

    What bothered me more than having it thrown out was the glee expressed by some legislators of both parties because now they could raise and spend whatever they wanted. It is those public figures, not ordinary activists asking questions, who should be the targets of any ire.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    LT,

    I also addressed alterations in campaigning that could allow candidates in rural areas more voter contact. And I noted that all candidates in a district would experience the same constraints. I do not see the need to buy gasoline as a good reason for higher contribution limits, but if this is perceived as such a massive problem, how about this remedy:

    Contributions of greater than $100 can be made for the purpose of reimbursing candidates for transportation fuel, as long as the names of such contributors are posted on the candidates vehicle[s] in high contrast lettering no less than two inches tall from a time not more than five days after the date of the contribution through election day.

    As for Sal's "yes, but"s, after one spends many hours working through hundreds of possible mechanisms for controlling money corruption, one has command of a lot of "yes, but"s, because one has already thought through the scenarios that have been raised over and over again on BlueOregon. That you were not familiar with a piece of M47 that is the relevant reference to much of the argument that went on here shows why Sal may seem obstinate at times: he knows what he is talking about, while most critics of M47 did not know, as far as the way M47 would effect campaigns.

    I am afraid many commenters still do not understand the effect of saying that some practice or another is not included in the definition of "contribution" and "expenditure." You do not need to be a lawyer to understand, but you need to know language and work a little at understanding how language is used in law. I join Sal in being frustrated with people who do not put out the effort to understand, but who repeatedly express strong opinions based on their lack of understanding.

  • Grant Schott (unverified)
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    I don't know if anyone is even on this subject again, but a lot of us who read Blue OR see the need for $ limits, but know soemthing about the need of $ to run a suuceesful campaign.

    Yes, most voters, will vote yes for any limit - $50, $100, $500, whatever, without knowing what the effect is on a campaign or without knwoing that independent expenditures can render these limits meaningless.

    I would also ask if well meaning people like Loyd Marbett and Dan Meek who write these measures have ever tried to manage a legislative campaign making $1000/ month or have ever taken $10,000 or more out of their savings to help finance a campaign?

  • LT (unverified)
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    Thank you Grant,

    "I would also ask if well meaning people like Loyd Marbett and Dan Meek who write these measures have ever tried to manage a legislative campaign making $1000/ month or have ever taken $10,000 or more out of their savings to help finance a campaign?"

    I have seen those well meaning individuals speak in person on the subject of campaign reform and wondered the same thing.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    Grant and LT,

    Let's begin with Grant's concern about "the need of $ to run a successful campaign". Most people would gauge the success of a campaign by the outcome. If your candidate wins or your measure passes, your campaign was successful. But contribution limits effect all sides with rough equality. So skill at running a lower cost campaign becomes valuable, but the contribution limits do not lessen the overall chance of someone winning, and so running a successful campaign.

    Next, if you will read the text of M47, you will find that there are both contribution limits and tough reporting requirements governing independent expenditures. Again, folks who do not know the law raise objections without knowing how Measure 47 would address those objections.

    And I don't know if Messrs. Marbett and Meek have ever managed legislative campaigns, but both spend a much higher than average portion of their income on political activity. Dan Meek was one of the top financial supporters of the M46/47 campaign. You can check out both men's campaign contributions at the state elections office. Then you will not need to wonder.

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