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Oregon’s Secretary of State Rejects Campaign Donation Limits

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan has rejected proposed ballot measures to cap political donations on procedural grounds.

But one prominent state lawmaker says he’ll push to put a similar proposal before voters.

Oregon Public Broadcasting reports Senate Majority Leader Rob Wagner, D-Lake Oswego, unveiled an amendment Thursday that cobbles together elements of several now-defunct proposals from good government groups, labor unions and advocacy organizations.

The amendment to Senate Bill 1526 would limit how much candidates, labor unions, political party committees and advocacy groups can accept and give in state elections. It also would set penalties for violating those rules. And the amendment would create a system of public financing for campaigns.

But the amendment also contains a controversial provision, allowing limitless giving for “small donor committees” that accept donations of no more than $250 per person each year. That’s been criticized in the past by Republicans, who fear it will allow labor unions and other groups that historically favor Democrats to have an outsized influence.

Wagner’s amendment also does not include requirements that political ads and so-called “dark money” groups more fully reveal the sources of their funding, which were included in some of the ballot measure proposals the secretary of state rejected.

If passed by the Senate and House, Wagner’s proposal would appear on the November 2022 ballot. The provisions, if approved by voters, would kick in following the 2024 election.

The senator’s decision to press the amendment comes after Fagan, the state’s top elections official, ruled this week that three ballot proposals submitted by Honest Elections Oregon and other good governance groups failed to meet a technical requirement set out in the state constitution.

Backers of those proposals — initiative petitions 43, 44, and 45 — say they will challenge that determination before the Oregon Supreme Court.



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