"I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions. But laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors." - Thomas Jefferson (appears in the Jefferson Memorial)

What it costs

Asuperb sum-up paragraph on Oregon campaign finance in the Oregon Catalyst blog, from Dan Meek:


Oregon is one of just five states with no limits on campaign contributions. Laws are so lax here that what Tom Delay was indicted for in Texas, channeling corporate money to state legislative races, is not only legal in Oregon but would hardly be noticed (since it was only $155,000). Corporations routinely contribute 100 times that much in an election cycle in Oregon.
The 2002 race for Governor broke all records, with each major party candidate spending over $4 million and each serious primary contender spending over $1.5 million. The unions contributed over $1.2 million to Ted Kulongoski’s campaign, while Loren Parks and the timber companies were generous with Kevin Mannix. This year, Ron Saxton’s campaign for Governor plants to spend over $6 million, and Kulongoski will not be far behind. It now typically costs over $500,000 to win a contested race for State Senate and over $250,000 to win a contested seat in the Oregon House of Representatives. In legislative races over the past 3 cycles, the candidate spending the most money has won over 90% of the time, and the few exceptions are candidates who almost outspent their opponents and had the benefit of name recognition from service in the other body of the Legislature.

The article is in support of Measures 46 and 47, which seek to limit campaign contributions. We’re a little torn on this, supportive of the concerns Meek has about heavy contributions but uneasy that the measures may be structured in such a way that they allow some lopsided loopholes. Campaign contribution reform is awfully difficult; we refer back to the old analogy of planting a thumb on a drop of mercury to pin it down.

By the way, the first of Oregon’s C&E reports (contributions & expenditures = campaign finance reports) are due next Monday, October 2, and the Secretary of State’s office says they expect to post them on line that day, though the crush of work is likely to push the posting into the evening.

Those reports will be eagerly read, not least by this site.

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One Comment

  1. gduell said:

    This article is a good example of the perils of reasoning by metaphor, e.g. putting one’s thumb on a drop of mercury to portray how effective- or ineffective -Measures 46 7 47 might be if implemented.
    But if I might abscond with this metaphor, the point is, HEY! There’s raw mercury (unbridled campaign spending) dribbling all over the place! It’s toxic! It’s harming us! It’s ruining our State! Measures 46 & 47 are an attempt to get most of it back in the bottle, just like 45 other states have done. This is better than just standing back and accepting the status quo.

    September 30, 2006

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