County Commissioners Statement on Campaign Finance Ordinance

April 13, 2017

Last November, Multnomah County voters passed Measure 26-184. The measure establishes provisions in the County Charter that limit independent expenditures and campaign contributions, and require various disclosures of contributions and expenditures.  The Board of County Commissioners is committed to following the will of the voters by defending the measure in court.

On April 6, 2017, the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners implemented the Charter amendment and requested the County Attorney petition the Oregon Courts to validate the measure. The goal is for a validation action to provide legal certainty about the constitutionality of these campaign finance provisions. Validation is cost-effective and a prudent use of taxpayer dollars because it limits the possibility that the County will need to respond to multiple lawsuits in different courts.

While campaign contribution limits have been ruled as unconstitutional in the state of Oregon, we believe that contributions that create unfair or unequal access in politics and the skyrocketing cost of elections are having a corrosive effect on our democracy. We live in a representative democracy and have listened and heard the voters. The Board agrees with the voters: it is time to take action.

The validation action allows for an appeals process if the Circuit Court rules that provisions are unconstitutional, and is a vehicle to challenge limitations on campaign finance laws in the courts.