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Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Not so fast: Measure 47 passed

Well now, it turns out that Measure 47, one of the two Oregon ballot measures pending on the issue of campaign finance reform, passed. This while its companion measure, 46, failed.

All of the campaigning to which our household was subjected linked the two measures together, and we voted against both of them, but it appears that a significant wedge of voters voted no on 46 and yes on 47. And so now we all get to figure out what 47 does and what 46 won't get to do.

Dan Meek, the public power guy who was one of the big backers of 46 and 47, left a comment last night on an older post on this blog; he explained where we stand in light of the split decision. What he wrote is worth reproducing here. And if any other readers are in the know about the meaning of the passage of 47 alone, please chime in in the comments to the present post:

Well, Jack, Measure 47, which passed, does require far better campaign disclosure and reporting. Here are some of its provisions that will take effect, regardless of the absence of Measure 46:

1 Every campaign advertisement funded by "independent expenditures" must prominently disclose the top 5 contributors to the "independent" campaign, the businesses they are engaged in, and the amounts contributed by each of them. These disclosures must appear in all advertisements, including TV, radio, newspaper, direct mail, billboards, etc. They need not appear on small campaign items, like buttons or bumper stickers.

2 Anyone making independent expenditures during any 2-year election cycle in excess of $200 must publicly report the expenditures in the same manner and schedule as a political committee in Oregon must report to the Secretary of State or local election officer.

3 Every candidate who spends more than $5,000 of personal money on a campaign for public office must disclose in every subsequent campaign ad the amount of personal money being spent on the campaign.

4 Every contributor of more than $500 per year must obtain a "handle" from the Secretary of State, so that his future contributions can be more accurately recorded. [Note: Every registered voter in Oregon already has a handle, consisting of his or her voter registration number. This provision will, however, include also all out-of-state contributors].

5 "Within five (5) business days of receipt, the Secretary of State shall report and make available on the Internet in an interactive database format all contribution and expenditure reports and all handle registrations. The format shall enable the user to determine the sources and amounts of reported contributions:

1 For each candidate committee, political committee, political party, and independent expenditure campaign; and

2 From each contributor who has contributed at least five hundred dollars ($500) during the election cycle."

6 No employer can, directly or indirectly, "require any employee or contractor to make any contribution or independent expenditure to support or oppose any candidate; or provide or promise any benefit or impose or threaten any detriment due to the fact that an employee or contractor did or did not make such contributions or expenditures. Any person subjected to a violation of this "shall have a civil cause of action against the violator and shall, upon proof of violation, recover a civil penalty of not less than $50,000 per incident of violation."

Fascinating stuff. But according to this morning's O, it may not mean jack squat unless the state constitution is interpreted or amended to allow such laws to be placed on the books -- and that's just what the voters seemingly refused to do when they rejected 46. Says the O:

And Measure 46, which would change the state constitution to allow limits on campaign contributions, failed. But a companion proposal, Measure 47, passed. Authors of the campaign finance measures anticipated that the constitutional amendment, Measure 46, might be defeated but the detailed campaign contribution limits in Measure 47 could pass. They wrote into Measure 47 a section that says that if the measure is adopted at a time the Oregon Constitution does not allow such limits, the measure is to be codified in state law and become effective when the constitution is amended to allow campaign contribution limits.
If and when, it appears. Anyway, please help us out, readers. Without 46 or a "son of 46" in the future, does 47 matter at all? Perhaps this is just a prelude to a lengthy court battle over what the existing state constitution does and doesn't allow by way of restrictions.

And in any event, did the Oregon voters who split the ticket know what the heck they were doing? Let's face it, the average person is not going to be able to grasp fully what's going on in Dan Meek's cruller. This thing is more confusing than a Karen Minnis travel expense report and an Emilie Boyles signature sheet combined.

Comments (15)

My take is the voters very much wanted campaign finance reform. But the campaign of fear a.k.a. "save our voice" led people to vote against 46.

Just as the "progressive community" was split, so too the vote.

As Dr. Spock used to say, "not logical" but that's what happens. I suspect Dan Meek is being overly optimistic about 47's passage, and what impact it can really have without 46, but I hope I'm wrong.

The chatter last night amongst the celebrating Democrats was the new Democratic Legislature would take up a package of ethics reforms, lobbyist reforms, and campaign finance reforms -- and use that opportunity to "clean up" the statutory parts of 47 that aren't constitutional, implement the disclosure stuff, and generally clean things up around here.

Wayne Scott won, but he struggled to get above 50% - against Mike Caudle, a first-time candidate with very little money. Legislators were getting the message last night.

I think the message of no on 46 and yes on 47 is that voters in general are queasy about constitution amendments, but do want to see campaign finance reform.

the new Democratic Legislature would take up a package of ethics reforms, lobbyist reforms, and campaign finance reforms -- and use that opportunity to "clean up" the statutory parts of 47 that aren't constitutional, implement the disclosure stuff, and generally clean things up around here.

That's funny.

I agree with Dave, that voters are becoming more reluctant to pass amendments to the Constitution. But before the votes were counted, I heard a suggestion that voting for 47 and not for 46 would "send a message" that campaign finance reform of some kind is desired -- just not either of these two proposals, since 47 can't be implemented as a whole without 46. I personally doubt so many Oregonians thought it through that carefully. It seems more likely people thought 47's ballot title sounded like a good idea, and that the 72 pages of details were impressive enough to implement it. I've noticed in discussions about zoning code language, that a lot of folks' eyes glaze over when faced with so much detail, and they trust the "experts" proposing it rather than taking the time to try to figure it out and possibly asking a "dumb" question, or suggesting there might be a problem or two within it.

the new Democratic Legislature would take up a package of ethics reforms, lobbyist reforms, and campaign finance reforms...

I laughed even before Jack said this is funny.

Can we get the incoming Democrats to take a pledge not to go to work for Paul Romaine? And, if they want to travel to Maui, Israel, or Ashland...they do it on their own nickel, like the rest of us?

We need to keep in mind that Iraq came after corruption as being on the minds of voters in the exit polls.

Wait, I have a question....

Subsection f of Section 9 of 47 reads as follows:

"If, on the effective date of this Act, the Oregon Constitution does not allow limitations on political campaign contributions or expenditures, this Act shall nevertheless be codified and shall become effective at the time the Oregon Constitution is found to allow, or is amended to allow, such limitations."

I'm no lawyer, but doesn't nullify the whole darn thing from taking effect in the absence of 46 of some future proposition that changes the constitution?

There are all sorts of questions here, such as: If an unconstitutional ballot measure is passed, and the constitution is later changed to allow it, is the passed law any good, or was it void from the outset? If the answer would normally be that the measure is void, can the proponents change that with a savings clause such as the one in this measure?

What a mess. I can't imagine how many hundreds of thousands of dollars of legal time will be spent straightening this out. Or maybe the Oregon DOJ will just refuse to enforce any of it, and let Meek and Co. spend lawyer time in court trying to get it implemented.

Jack's opening comment here is not correct. All of the provisions I list are not limits on contributions and are not limits on expenditures. They are reporting requirements, disclosure requirements, and a whistleblower provision that does not involve any limit on contributions or expenditures. None of these provisions is in any way dependent on enactment of Measure 46, which would have amended the Oregon Constitution to allow limits on political contributions and expenditures.

I would suggest people read the press release on Measure 47's passage at http://www.fairelections.net/pr/2006-11-7-press-release.htm.

It'll answer a lot of questions people have.

The problem Measure 46 had was that opponents equated obscene contributions with free speech. It's quite ironic that some progressive groups defended people like Loren Parks who has given candidates almost $1.9 million since 2000. I suspect fat-cat contributors were laughing that their enemies were defending them.


You say:

None of these provisions is in any way dependent on enactment of Measure 46, which would have amended the Oregon Constitution to allow limits on political contributions and expenditures.

What? That doesn't even address the question at hand.

Section 9, Sub. f to nullifies the whole thing, even though the whole thing isn't about limits. With this section, you basically prohibited any of the other sections from taking effect, until such point limits are constitutional in Oregon, even if the other sections aren't related to limits. Why did you do that to your own law?

Measure 47 contains a severability clause, so the whole is not lost if some parts are struck down [opponents pointed to this as a fault]. Measure 46 was needed to prevent the Oregon Supreme Court from tossing out contribution limits as they did in 1997, but Measure 46 is not needed to protect provisions that are not limits of campaign contributions. Oregon already has many rules on disclosure of contributions and expenditures. These have not been successfully challenged in court.

The Legislature could, of course, change or repeal Measure 47. They could also refer to voters a constitutional change to allow contribution limits. Presumably, they would leave out the legislative supermajority provision.

Another possibility would be for the Oreogn Supreme Court to reconsider its stance on campaign contribution as protected speech, in light of the second approval by voters of limits on such contributions. Remember that contribution limits existed in Oregon for many decades without Supreme Court intervention. As we know, courts sometimes change their minds.

Here's the severability clause:

(11) Supersession and Severability.
The provisions of this Act shall supersede any provision of law with which they may conflict. For the purpose
of determining constitutionality, every section, subsection, and subdivision thereof of this Act, at any level of
subdivision, shall be evaluated separately. If any section, subsection or subdivision at any level is held invalid,
the remaining sections, subsections and subdivisions shall not be affected and shall remain in full force and
effect. The courts shall sever those sections, subsections, and subdivisions necessary to render this Act
consistent with the United States Constitution and with the Oregon Constitution. Each section, subsection, and
subdivision thereof, at any level of subdivision, shall be considered severable, individually or in any combination.

I do not understand why a person would vote YES on 47 and not on 46.

I did the opposite combination, expecting that it would open the door, for a new measure, similar to 47 (but hopefully not as complex), in the future.

What does YES on 47 and NO on 46 accomplish, that people wanted to accomplish. I realize that it means that some of the clauses in 47 might get enacted anyway, and some may not.
Did people, who voted this way, decide that there were specific elements in 47, that they did NOT want enacted, that they felt were dependent on 46; while wanting the parts of 47 not dependent on 46?

I understand why someone would vote YES on both.
I understand why someone would vote NO on both.
I understand YES on 46 and NO on 47 (more for sending a message that something is o.k., opening the door, and hoping for a better measure in the next election).
However, I don't get the NO on 46, YES on 47.

Is it that people care more about the reporting than the actual money?

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