In November 2006, the voters of Oregon enacted Measure 47, which established the nation’s most strict system of limits on political campaign contributions and expenditures. It also requires every political advertisement funded by "independent expenditures" to fully disclose the names, businesses, and amount contributed by each of its 5 largest donors, right in the ad itself.
The people were forced to act, because the Oregon Legislature has never enacted limits on political contributions. The Secretary of State and Attorney General of Oregon have refused to enforce Measure 47, even though no court has ruled any part of Measure 47 to be unconstitutional. The Chief Petitioners have sued the Secretary of State and Attorney General to compel them to implement and enforce Measure 47, and that case is now before the Oregon Supreme Court, where oral argument was heard on January 9, 2012. The Court will probably make a decision within a few months.
Due to their refusal to implement Measure 47, campaign spending in Oregon continues to skyrocket. Total spending on campaigns for state and local offices in Oregon increased from $4.2 million in 1998 to $57 million in 2010. Candidates for Governor in 2010 alone raised and spent over $20 million. Winning a contested race for the Oregon Legislature now typically costs over $700,000, sometimes more. THE OREGONIAN reports that spending on state legislative races in Oregon is higher per capita than in any other state, except New Jersey. The Secretary of State and Attorney General should implement and enforce the restrictions on political campaign contributions and expenditures enacted by the people of Oregon in Measure 47.
Information collected and held by governmental agencies must be similarly accessible to enable and ensure a strong democracy. To assess the current state of campaign-finance disclosure across the country, the National Institute on Money in State Politics surveyed the 2010 disclosure practices in each of the 50 states. Using the information obtained from the surveys, the Institute then identified best practices for state agencies to employ to best provide campaign-finance data to the public. They may be found here. People also need to become informed about what disclosure looks like in their state-the state surveys may be found here.
Anne, thank you for sharing this useful information on governing State Campaign Finance. The Investigation is taking a close look into campaign finance practices in each state. The best practices provided by the National Institute on Money in State Politics identified at the links you provided are a tremendously useful resource for officials who will want to use the results of their corruption risk report card to pursue reform.
Would you be interested in contributing a post to the State Corruption Investigation blog?