The government of Oregon is being captured by big money. Candidates for governor spent over $80 million on their campaigns in the primary and general elections, doubling the previous record of $40 million and 40-fold the amount spent in 1998. Candidates for the Oregon Legislature spent over $40 million, also setting a new record. The top 10 Oregon Senate candidates spent an average of $1.5 million each; they spent around $50 per vote. The top 10 Oregon House candidates spent an average of $867,000 each; they spent nearly $60 per vote. One man alone contributed $5.25 million to candidates for Oregon governor this year. Oregon is one of five states with no enforced limits on campaign contributions. The result is that Oregon campaigns are among the most expensive in the United States, making candidates dependent on and beholden to their huge donors. Voters should demand that the Oregon Legislature, with Gov.-elect Tina Kotek, enact effective campaign finance reform, including limits on campaign contributions and requiring that political ads name their largest funders.
Dan Meek, Portland
Meek is a volunteer with Honest Elections Oregon.