Secretary of State Shemia Fagan Poised to Delay Campaign Finance Measures on Technicality

Secretary of State Shemia Fagan is raising hurdles for election activists who want to regulate campaign contributions in Oregon, one of just five states that have no limits.

Honest Elections Oregon, an advocacy group that won limits on contributions in Multnomah County and Portland, is trying to extend its streak and rein in big money statewide. It is sponsoring three similar ballot initiatives—43, 44, and 45—that would cap contributions to candidates for statewide office to $2,000 from individuals and $50,000 from political parties, among other limits.

The group’s efforts hit a snag this week when Fagan’s chief legal counsel, P.K. Runkles-Pearson, wrote to Honest Elections organizers Jason Kafoury and Dan Meek and told them that Fagan was planning to reject the language of the initiatives because they did not include the full text of the Oregon laws that they would change. A final decision from Fagan is expected Feb. 9, according to her office.

Kafoury says Fagan’s decision is unsupported by both precedent and practice and will prevent the measures from making it onto the ballot this year. Honest Elections Oregon must gather 112,020 signatures by July 8, to qualify the measures.

If forced to resubmit the language, there is no way they will be able to get the signatures in time because of the lengthy list of preliminary steps required to get a measure on the ballot, Kafoury says. Those include: gathering 1,000 “sponsorship signatures,” which Honest Oregon has…

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