Oregon Secretary of State Blocks Campaign Finance Reform Initiative Petition

In a stunning display of democracy suppression, this afternoon the Secretary of State of Oregon refused to issue a ballot title for Initiative Petition 77 for 2016, which would amend the Oregon Constitution to allow limits on political campaign contributions and expenditures and allow laws requiring disclosure of the true sources and amounts of such contributions or expenditures in the communications they fund.

The Secretary of State claims that the Initiative would constitute more than one "closely related" amendment to the Oregon Constitution. 

"When a similar contention was made against Measure 46 (2006), the Oregon Supreme Court rejected it in Meyer v. Bradbury (2006)," noted attorney Dan Meek.  "This decision now requires the chief petitioners of Initiative Petition engage in costly litigation to defend the right of the people to amend their own Constitution to achieve campaign finance reform."

The 3 Chief Petitioners are officials in three of Oregon's political parties.  Seth Woolley, Executive Director of the Pacific Green Party's Portland chapter, stated:

"This rejection doesn't pass the smell test, as single subject issues were already adjudicated in 2006. The AG purports to believe the same decision wouldn't be made and so pro-democracy reforms shouldn't get a vote. It's absurdly undemocratic that an unaccountable opinion by a bureaucrat paid by an elected official can derail attempts to hold our elected officials accountable to the public with such clearly nonsense opinions."

Liz Trojan, member of the Oregon Progressive Party's State Council, added:

"Initiative Petition 77is a very simple constitutional ballot proposal to do two things: 1) allow for campaign contribution limits, 2) allow laws requiring disclosure of campaign contributions. The SoS and Attorney General have deemed that these two items are somehow not related. I am a citizen of Oregon and not an attorney, but to my simple understanding of Article XVII of the Oregon Constitution these two items are clearly related. It is profoundly disappointing that this is being turned into a political football. All we are seeking to do is what at least 44 other states have done."

Robert Harris of the State Caucus of the Independent Party of Oregon stated:

"I am resigned to the fact that the Oregon political establishment and particularly its major donors are opposed to any campaign reforms, including something as simple and obvious as informing voters who is paying for the ads."

The Chief Petitioners and other supporters of badly needed campaign finance reform in Oregon will have further comment tomorrow.

Here is the full text of Initiative Petition 77 (2016):

Be it enacted by the People of the State of Oregon, there is added an Article II, Section 25, of the Constitution of Oregon:

Oregon laws consistent with the freedom of speech guarantee of the United States Constitution may:

(1) limit contributions and expenditures (including transfers of money or resources) to influence the outcome of any election; and

(2) require disclosure of the true sources and amounts of such contributions or expenditures (a) to the public and  (b) in the communications they fund.

The Secretary of State has not posted her rejection letter in the Initiative Log at http://egov.sos.state.or.us/elec/web_irr_search.main_search or elsewhere.  We have posted it here:  http://cfr.progparty.net

Contact:
Seth Woolley
seth@swoolley.org
503-953-3943
Liz Trojan
elizat8@pobox.com
503-970-2069
Robert Harris
RHarris@harrislawsite.com
503-648-4777

Dan Meek

503-293-9021 dan@meek.net 855-280-0488 fax

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