Portland overwhelmingly approves limits on campaign donations

Derek Cressman

Voters in Portland, Oregon, approved a ballot measure setting limits on what individuals can donate to local political campaigns and banning contributions from corporations during this November's election.

The overwhelming margin of 87 percent support sets up the city to challenge a 1997 opinion by the Oregon Supreme Court that found that limits on contributions were not allowed under the Oregon state constitution. That decision was contrary to federal courts, which have historically allowed limits on contributions to candidates, but barred limits on total campaign spending or limits to so-called independent campaigns.

Portland joins Multnomah County, which also adopted tough contribution limits through a ballot measure in 2016. Both efforts are part of an intentional strategy to revisit the misguided state court ruling. If successful, Oregon would catch up with the rest of the country in being able to impose some limits on campaign contributions, but will still need to reverse federal court rulings such as Citizens United v. FEC and Buckley v. Valeo to really get big money out of politics.


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