Senator Rick Metsger: Transparency in Campaign Finance Bill

Senator Metsger Introduces Legislation To Create Transparency In Oregon Campaign Finance
By State Senator Rick Metsger, Press release

Salem, OR– Senator Rick Metsger (D-Welches) today introduced amendments to SB 1058 which will reform the way campaign contributions are distributed in Oregon politics. The amendments effectively eliminate pass-through contributions from one political candidate committee to another.”This legislation doesn’t try to solve every problem with campaign contributions, but is narrowly crafted to address one essential component that impacts our democracy,” said Metsger. “Oregon citizens deserve to know that when they support a candidate with a contribution that their money will not be passed to another candidate whom the donor may not even support.”

Pass-through contributions are the act of one political candidate committee donating money from their campaign funds to another candidate’s campaign. “This is essentially money laundering that serves to obscure the true identity of a candidate’s supporters,” Metsger said. Campaign finance reform has long been an issue in Oregon. Current campaign law has no restrictions on the amount of contributions received, and limited laws related to how money may be spent. Reform has many facets, but has always met strong political opposition which has halted meaningful change.

The Oregon Supreme Court recently found that the act of giving campaign contributions is constitutionally protected, while the act of receiving a financial gift is not necessarily protected. The office of Legislative Counsel, the Legislature’s attorney, believes that the recent Supreme Court decision has opened the door for this legislation to possibly pass muster under the Oregon Constitution.

“The Legislature often talks about campaign finance reform,” Metsger said. “Now the Court has given us the opportunity to turn talk into action.”

SB 1058 has been referred to the Senate Rules Committee and awaits a public hearing.

Senator Rick Metsger serves as Senate President Pro Tempore and chairs the Business and Transportation Committee. Metsger is also a member on the Senate Rules and Education Committees. Metsger is retiring at the end of his 2010 term.