M47 (Campaign Finance) may be back

Update on Dan Meek.
Dan Meek has been fighting in court this month to defend the constitutionality of the 2006 campaign finance Measure 47. Here is what Meek had to comment on the case:

M47 should be implemented, because 54% of Oregon voters voted for it. It would establish limits on political campaign contributions, like those that exist in 47 other states (not New Mexico or Missouri). The argument against implementation of M47 is that it violates the free speech provision of the Oregon Constitution, even though it satisfies the free speech requirements of the First Amendment, and no other state has found that such limits are now allowed under the state constitution.

The Oregon Supreme Court interpreted Oregon’s free speech clause in a way different from all other state clauses, even though 28 other states have the identical clause in their constitutions. In other states, that does not prevent regulation of nude dancing or political contributions. Only in Oregon does the Court say that “free speech” includes both unlimited nude dancing and unlimited political bribery in the form of campaign contributions.

Dan Meek is also still challenging PGE from charging ratepayers to earn profits on Trojan, after it closed in 1992 (see Willamette Week article here).

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Posted by at 07:00 | Posted in Measure 37 | 10 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Jerry

    The Oregon Supreme Court is made up of a bunch of fools.
    I am wondering if we can contribute illegally while naked in Oregon. That sounds like it would be fine and quite a lot more fun.
    The politicos sure won’t do anything to police themselves. They love campaign money and all the uses it can be put to – even when they lose.
    Man, what a scheme.
    Thanks, Dan, for your efforts.
    PS- Trojan was a total joke. It should neve have been closed. It should be operating now if the crazies had builit it correctly.

  • Steven Plunk

    The solution to campaign contributions as bribery is to make all contributions anonymous. Putting contributions into an escrow account then forwarding the money to the candidate allows the free speech of donations and prevents political favors from being purchased.

    Donors would only support candidates who represent their views instead of those who they can buy votes on particular issues. Candidates would be free from the influence of big money that interferes with voting their conscience.

    Instead of a limit to what we can give Mr. Meek needs to approch this from another direction, anonymous donations.

    • Anonymous

      Actually that sounds like a very reasonable idea. Of course you know that would never get off the ground as we taxpayers don’t know what we want and the politicians do.

  • Bill Sizemore

    Anonymous political contributions? Sounds good at first glance, but in fact would change nothing or perhaps make matters worse. How could you stop a donor from privately telling a candidate before or after the election that he donated a specific amount of money to the campaign, or even inflating that amount to gain even more influence with them?

    There is no doubt in my mind that such information would mysteriously find its way to the candidate.

    • Steve Plunk


      I see your point but disagree. How could you stop a non-donor from claiming to have donated a substantial amount of cash and asking for favors? With no independent records (cancelled checks can be faked) anyone could make such a claim. The politicians could never be sure who actually contributed cash.

      Without confidence in who is trying to but your vote how can you let it be bought? Why would you let it be bought with false claims? Elected officials would be back to voting what they promise and what they think is right.

      It may have some other problems but working our way through them and having the idea undergo further scrutiny is the way to strengthen it. Thanks.

    • Sal Peralta

      Steve, your solution scores very high marks on limiting corruption or the appearance of corruption.

      Unfortunately, it’s a mortal lock that such a statute would be struck down as a violation of freedom of speech and association in both state and federal court.

      Even if it were possible to enact such a statute, most donations are the result of many phone calls on the part of candidates. You can set up a double-blind system, but candidates and political operatives already know who they need to speak to in order to get money.

      It seems likely that your proposal would simply make it more difficult for the public to know who the players are.

  • NME

    If there was anonymous donations. The guy who dropped $20,999, would surely say the congressperson at the next cocktail party…that one was mine. How could you miss it?

    • Steve Plunk

      By moving the money through an independent clearinghouse no amount figures would be available. The candidate would only get a check for all contributions combined. No one contributing money could prove they did in fact contribute, that would make all claims suspect and free the candidates from money influences.

      It’s not perfect but the right way to go. With further discussions others problems can be worked through. Thanks.

  • Dan Meek

    Unfortunately, the Oregon Supreme Court would probably rule that requiring all political contributions to be anonymous would also violate the Oregon free speech clause. In earlier cases, the Court has said that the act of speech or expression is the act of giving money to the candidate, thereby “expressing” something. Anonymous donations would not “express” anything.

    I also agree with Bill that the donors would let the candidates know where the money was coming from. So anonymous donations would not be anonymous to the candidates — but would be anonymous to the public! Yes, that would be even worse than now.

    But even if Steve is right that others would claim to be the donors, the money itself would still select the candidate. In the 2006 races for the Oregon Senate, the biggest spender won every race, except one. There, Senator Metsger spent about $450,000, was outspent by $20,000, and still won. Even if the candidate would not know exactly where his money is coming from, the donors would know where the candidate is coming from. And the opponents of the big bucks candidates could no longer say, “My opponent is bought by the insurance companies,” or whatever, even though that would still be true.

  • Dan Meek

    Jason, the link to Willamette Week you provide is not about Trojan. It is about the lawsuit to get back the millions of dollars that PacifiCorp has charged ratepayers in Multnomah County for Multnomah County Business Income Tax that was never actually paid to the County.

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