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Proposed Oregon campaign finance limits could be upended by a drafting technicality

Shemia Fagan
Kristyna Wentz-Graff
Secretary of State Shemia Fagan says she is compelled by legal precedent to reject three proposals for new campaign finance limits. Advocates of the proposal say she is taking an overly strict stance.

Proposals to create limits on political contributions in Oregon are in trouble, following a ruling by Secretary of State Shemia Fagan.

Late last year, the state saw a flurry of new ideas for campaign finance limits – six in all, filed as proposed ballot measures. Now at least five of those might be dead.

Citing legal precedent, Fagan says three proposed measures filed by good government groups contain drafting errors that don’t meet constitutional requirements. Fagan has said she will reject the measures.

Two additional proposals backed by labor unions contain the same issue. And supporters of the sixth measure say they’re not sure if they’ll move forward.

The developments suggest Oregon might not impose campaign contribution limits this year. It is one of a handful of states to have no regulations on how much entities can donate to candidates and causes, a fact that has led political spending to explode.

Advocates are expected to challenge Fagan’s decision.

Copyright 2022 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Dirk VanderHart covers Oregon politics and government for OPB. Before barging onto the radio in 2018, he spent more than a decade as a newspaper reporter—much of that time reporting on city government for the Portland Mercury. He’s also had stints covering chicanery in Southwest Missouri, the wilds of Ohio in Ohio, and all things Texas on Capitol Hill.