Multnomah County candidate elections are subject to campaign finance requirements first adopted by voters in 2016 through a Charter amendment. As implemented, those requirements limit the amount and source of campaign contributions to Multnomah County candidates and require that communications advocating for or against Multnomah County candidates clearly disclose who paid for them.
These campaign finance regulations apply to all candidates for:
- Multnomah County Chair
- Multnomah County Sheriff
- Multnomah County Commissioner
- Multnomah County Auditor
Multnomah County Code (MCC) 5.200 - 5.205 and Multnomah County’s Contribution Limit and Disclosure Rules (CLDR) implement the County’s campaign finance regulations.
Contribution Limit Overview
Multnomah County candidates and their candidate committees are only allowed to accept contributions from individuals and from political committees.
Candidates are only allowed to accept $568 or less from an individual or political committee during a Multnomah County candidate election cycle. The exception to this is for contributions from small donor committees, which are political committees that do not accept contributions from entities and do not accept more than $115 from individual contributors within a calendar year. Candidates are allowed to accept unlimited contributions from small donor committees.
Candidates and their candidate committees are not allowed to accept contributions directly from any other entities, which include corporations, limited liability companies, unions, and nonprofit organizations, among others. However, those entities may form political committees, including small donor committees, that can contribute to Multnomah County candidates.
Both candidates and contributors are responsible for complying with the contribution limits. In the event that a contribution violates Multnomah County’s contribution limits, both the candidate and the contributor may be liable and may be required to pay civil penalties.
Most communications from or about Multnomah County candidates are required to include a prominent disclosure that identifies the true original source(s) of funding for the communication. The County’s disclosure rules apply to communications across formats, including audio, video, print, and electronic.
Some common communications the disclosure requirements do not apply to include:
- Communications that are funded with a total of $345 or less
- Bumper stickers
- Signs smaller than six square feet
- Small items worn or carried by individuals, such as buttons or stickers
- 500 or fewer substantially similar flyers or other pieces of literature distributed in any 10-business day period
Individuals (including candidates), as well as entities such as political committees, corporations, unions, and nonprofits, that fund communications in support of or opposition to candidates for County positions are all subject to the County’s disclosure requirements.
A communication that is subject to disclosure requirements must include the names of individuals or entities, including candidate committees, that paid for the communication. There are additional disclosure requirements for most entities in order to provide transparency about their sources of income to the public.
When Multnomah County voters amended the Charter in 2016, they also approved limits for expenditures, including independent expenditures, and those limits were incorporated into both the Charter and Code. However, the expenditure limits were ruled unconstitutional by the state supreme court, which means that those sections of the Charter and Code are not enforceable. The County does not regulate any expenditures in Multnomah County candidate elections.
Next Steps for Understanding Contribution Limits and Disclosure Obligations
The above information provides a high-level summary of Multnomah County’s campaign finance regulations. For a more in-depth understanding of these regulations that includes exact language and requirements, you should review Multnomah County Code and the County’s Contribution Limits and Disclosure Rules.
You can also visit the Multnomah County Elections’ FAQ pages for:
- Candidates and campaigns
- Individuals and entities funding communications about county candidates
Please note that the dollar amounts included in the County’s campaign finance regulations are adjusted for inflation on January 1st of odd-numbered years.
Multnomah County Elections enforces the County’s campaign finance regulations through a complaint-driven process.
If you believe you have information about a violation, please fill out an official and submit it to Multnomah County Elections by email at email@example.com, or deliver or mail it to the Multnomah County Elections Division - 1040 SE Morrison St., Portland, OR 97214.
Multnomah County Elections does not investigate anonymous complaints. If you have questions after reviewing the complaint form, please contact the Elections Division at firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-988-8613.
The Oregon Secretary of State is the Campaign Finance office for candidates and committees.
- Campaign Finance
Information from the Oregon Secretary of State's Office
- Information on Political Communication Disclaimers
- Campaign Finance Manuals
For candidates and political committees
- Search ORESTAR
Campaign finance database
Note: Candidates who receive or spend $750 or less in a calendar year, act as their own treasurer and do not already have open principal campaign committee do not need to file campaign information. Please see the Oregon Secretary of State's campaign finance website for more information.
City of Portland candidates have campaign finance and disclosure requirements. Please visit the City of Portland Elections website for more information. All questions related to City of Portland candidates should be directed to the City of Portland Elections office.
Information on City of Portland candidate public financing is available at the City of Portland website Open and Accountable Elections.