Regional coalition forming to challenge troublesome Multnomah County campaign finance measure, which violates Oregon freedom of speech protections.
An under the radar campaign finance measure adopted by Multnomah County voters in November is facing increased scrutiny by various organizations and individuals as to its legality. The measure, which changes the County charter, institutes new contribution limits for County races (not elections or measures). Specifically, organizations (businesses, associations, etc.) may not make contributions to individual candidates. Individuals may contribute up to $500 per candidate. Organizations may do independent expenditures up to $10,000 only if registered as a PAC and the source of funds are limited to annual individual contributions of no more than $500.
However, the measure exempts “small donor committees” from the new requirements. The meaning of “small donor committees” is still unclear, but many feel it is a loophole to provide unions the ability to skirt the financing limitations. In addition, the County amendment is similar to a 2006 ballot measure that was struck down by the Oregon Supreme Court as unconstitutional.
Recognizing the draconian nature of the new requirements, the harm to overall election system and negative impact to our industry, the HBA has been actively engaged with the Portland Business Alliance, PMAR and other businesses and individuals to examine the legality of the measure. The first step in this process is to engage the County on their plans to enforce the charter provisions. That said, we must examine all options, to include a legal challenge with our partners across the region.