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Public opinion surveys in Oregon, as well as nation-wide, have consistently shown strong bipartisan support for limiting political campaign contributions and increasing transparency requirements for big donors. Although there is a super majority of public support, Oregon’s Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that voter-passed campaign finance reforms violate Oregon’s constitution.

Because several legislative attempts to limit campaign contributions or implement strict disclosure requirements have constitutionally failed, many jurisdictions have voted for campaign finance reform that allows candidates to opt in to a publicly funded campaign as a constitutional work-around. Publicly-funded campaigns increase political accessibility for potential candidates who lack the connections with big donors and reduces the power of those who would make large donations in a traditionally-funded campaign.

This panel will discuss two types of public funding: small donor matching and donation vouchers (“democracy vouchers”). Speakers will share recent public opinion data and discuss various strategies, constitutional limitations, upcoming campaign finance reform bills in the 2019 legislative session, as well as successes in Portland and Seattle in getting local elections publicly funded.

 

Charlie Fisher is the Executive Director of OSPIRG, a consumer advocacy group with the mission of protecting voters’ right to participate in democratic decision making, among other issues.  He will summarize the findings in a recent OSPIRG report on the “Big Money in Oregon State Elections,” showing how large donors affect Oregon elections. David Schuman served as a judge on the Oregon Court of Appeals for nine years before returning to UO School of Law, where he teaches Constitutional Law, among other subjects. He will describe the constitutional issues around campaign financing and some of the bills now before the Oregon legislature. Kristin Eberhard is a researcher, writer, speaker, lawyer, and policy analyst who leads Sightline Institute’s work on democracy reform and on climate action. She is known as a leading expert on electoral reform in the Pacific Northwest. She will explain what Seattle and Portland have been doing to integrate public financing into elections in Washington and Oregon. Robin Quirke is a researcher at PolicyInteractive. Her focus is on learning to understand general public opinions while testing policy possibilities. She will share Pacific Northwest public opinion data that shows extremely strong bipartisan support for campaign finance reform among voters.