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BRO Urges Vote No on Measures 46 & 47

We need campaign finance reform in Oregon, but Constitutional Amendment 46 & Measure 47 will have unintended consequences that will benefit rich individuals and hurt the rest of us.

Constitutional Amendment 46 & Measure 47 Overview:
The proposed 46 & 47 are campaign finance changes that will limit political non-profits, such as, Basic Rights Oregon by restricting when and how much we can spend on candidate campaigns.

Constitutional Amendment 46 is a single-sentence that gives away your free speech rights now and in the future. This Constitutional amendment attempts to override all existing Constitutional free speech protections as they relate to campaign contributions and expenditures. It would allow any ballot measure or act of the legislature to suspend our current free speech protection under the Oregon Bill Of Rights, surrendering those rights to George Bush's Supreme Court.

Measure 47 is a proposed statutory change that would build on Amendment 46 placing extreme limitations on political speech for individuals, non-profits, membership organizations, unions, and political parties. With the potential for several key provisions likely to be struck down by the court and a "severability clause" to keep the rest of the measure intact, the end result will likely look more like a Frankenstein monster than a fair and balanced campaign finance system.

Supporters of Constitutional Amendment 46 and Measure 47:
Oregonian investigative reporters reveal that 2/3 of the funding for this measure came from one wealthy individual who divides his time between Central Oregon and California.

Opponents of Constitutional Amendment 46 and Measure 47
Even an original sponsor now believes Measure 47 is unworkable and will have unintended consequences. Recent legal analysis shows that key parts of Measure 47 are unconstitutional, and will lead to a seriously unbalanced campaign finance system. That's why Peter Buckley, a former Measure 47 sponsor, has come out against it.

Opposing Constitutional Amendment 46: ACLU of Oregon, American Federation of TeachersOregon, Basic Rights Oregon, Children First for Oregon, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, Eugene Springfield Solidarity Network, Metrowide Political Committee of Northwest Carpenters, NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon, Oregon Action, Oregon AFL-CIO, Oregon Education Association, Oregon League of Conservation Voters, Oregon School Employees Association, Oregon State Council of Firefighters, Our Oregon, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, Rural Organizing Project, SEIU Local 49, SEIU Local 503, OPEU, Stand for Children.

Opposing Measure 47: ACLU of Oregon, American Federation of TeachersOregon, Basic Rights Oregon, Democratic Party of Oregon, Children First for Oregon, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, Eugene Springfield Solidarity Network, Metrowide Political Committee of Northwest Carpenters, NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon, Oregon Action, Oregon AFL-CIO, Oregon Education Association, Oregon League of Conservation Voters, Oregon School Employees Association, Oregon State Council of Firefighters, Our Oregon, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, SEIU Local 49, SEIU Local 503, OPEU, Stand for Children.

Basic Rights Oregon's Recommendation
Vote NO on 46 & 47

Impact of Constitutional Amendment 46 and Measure 47
46 & 47 will do nothing to stop one of the most pressing campaign finance issues in Oregon, leaving wealthy financiers Loren Parks, Howard Rich and Harry Lonsdale, who personally bankrolled these two measures, free to contribute millions of dollars to Oregon ballot measures to change our laws to suit their personal interests. Meanwhile Basic Rights Oregon will be left to speak without limitation only through $50 small donor committees.

Measure 47 will keep average Oregonians from supporting causes they believe in. It creates a draconian web of extreme restrictions on political speech. That means regular Oregonians who might want to contribute to a cause they believe in whether as an individual or through a political non-profit they trust, will be even less likely to get involved. Not only that, the measure requires our donors to get a "handle" at the Secretary of State's office and keep track of how much money they have donated.

Why is BRO Concerned About these Measures?
  • Non-profit advocacy organizations like Basic Rights Oregon have a lot at stake in legislative elections--like defeating Speaker Karen Minnis or reelecting Governor Kulongoski. We have to be able to effectively support candidates that are committed to fairness and we must be able to hold legislators publicly accountable for their actions. Measures 46 and 47 would dramatically limit our ability to support candidates that share our values. And, even more importantly, it would limit our ability to inform voters about what elected officials do once they are elected.

  • these measures are poorly crafted, will face numerous legal challenges and could end up being more complicated to enact as a result; and

  • "Campaign Finance Issues" do not belong in the constitution -- the Oregon State Constitution should be reserved for weightier things like the Oregon Bill of Rights providing and protecting civil rights and human rights for all Oregon's citizens. Constitutional Amendment 46 would be the first weakening of the Free Speech protections in Oregon's State Constitution EVER. Since 1859 this part of Oregon's Bill of Rights has remained unchanged.

    Find out more and get involved. Visit www.protectourvoice.org
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  • By Anonymous David e. Delk, at October 17, 2006 9:08 PM

    Sometimes even the best intented organizations can get it all wrong and that is centainly the case with BRO and these two initiatives. I'll just deal with the questions dealing with Measure 46, a constitutional amendment which will allow Oregonian the right enjoyed in 45 other states to enact limitations on campaign contributions and expenditures. Oregonians will do this via one of two process: 1. the initiative process or 2. a 3/4 yes vote of both Houses of the legislature.

    Measure 46 does not give away your free speech rights, either now or anytime in the future. It does not attempt to overide any existing Consitutional free speech protection. It is very specific. This amendment only, and can only, affect political contributions and expenditures. Unless you believe that the spending of unlimited money to influence voter decision is free speech, you should not be concerned with this measure. It affects money in politics only; not your right to speak.

    Why have we restricted the legislature from passing laws limiting campaign contributions and expenditures? Because legislatures have generally not supported these limitations. Those who have been elected with the old system like the old system where big money rules and have shown no desire to change it.

    Take an example. In 2004 in Ohio, the legislature changed their campaign contribution limitations which had prohibited corporate contributions to candidate to allow corporate contributions. They also changed the individual limitation from $2500 to $10,000. Do you think that such changes helped progressive people? No, it insured that right-wing politicans continued in office and insured that more of the same would be elected. It insured that the political process in Ohio would be dominated by the special interests of corporations and wealthy individuals.

    Measure 46 insures that will not happen in Oregon by requiring that any change to law passed by the people would have to be so highly necessary that 3/4 of both legislative houses would have to agree. A simple majority vote as happened in Ohio would not have the power to override the will of the people.

    Contrary to BRO's statement, the only ballot measure which could take away your free speech rights could only be enacted via a different constitutional amendment,a real possibility at any time with or without passage of Measure 46. It would not result because of passage of this constitutional amendment. The only thing this constitional amendment allows is limitations on unlimited spending on campaigns.    



    By Anonymous Anonymous, at October 18, 2006 12:28 PM

    Actually political contributions are free speech--so says the US Supreme Court. I see no difference in me going on a street corner holding a sign with my candidates name on it than me giving my candidate $10,000. It is ALL an expression of free speech.

    This is not a "progressive" constitutional amendment as it has been spun. It is a very dangerous road to go down.    



    By Anonymous Tom Civiletti, at October 24, 2006 5:45 PM

    anonymous demonstrates how misleading tidbits of knowledge can be. Although the Supreme Court has afforded some free speech protection to campaign contributions, the court has also ruled constitutional limits like most of those in Fair Elections Measure 47.

    Mr. Delk analyzes Fair Elections Measure 46 correctly. Some people see the 3/4 legislative majority provision as extreme. I see it as just about right considering the addiction of politicians to big campaign contributions. The Massachusetts Legislature repealed that state's voter passed Clean Money reform. The Colorado Legislature has attempted to gut tat state's voter passed contribution limits [amendment 27] each session since its passage.    



    By Blogger BRO, at October 25, 2006 10:47 AM

    The great fallacy of this measure is that it will get "big money" out of politics. The fact is that you can't remove money from politics. As long as groups of people, businesses, non-profits, and individuals have big things to gain and lose (which will be always) money will play a part in our political process.

    And folks with BIG money can--guess what--hire big lawyers and firms to help them get around campaign finance laws and can still hire big time lobbyists with big expense accounts to gain favor with legislators. There are obvious loopholes in this legislation that even Dan Meek has admitted to, and big money can afford to search until it finds others.

    Who this measure really hurts is unions that represent working families, political non-profits like BRO and individuals. BRO, for instance, isn't a "big money" organization. We represent a disfavored minority in our state and we pool small contributions in order to deliver a louder message.

    That is the ONLY tool we have to hold legislators accountable and ensure that they know that they have a strong pro-equality constituency that is organized. The unfortunate fact is that sometimes lawmakers do not make choices on legislation simply on the principle of the matter and so our ability to give lawmakers a preview of our capability to elect or unelect them is important.

    Strict caps are not the solution--greater transparency in campaign finance reporting and lobbyist gifts etc. with harsh penalties for those who break the rules is a better way to go.

    Measure 46 and 47 will tie the hands of organizations working for average Oregonians who without pooling resources and collective organizing would not have a voice in our political process.    



    By Anonymous Bill Michtom, at October 28, 2006 6:07 PM

    How many ways can one organization be wrong? In the case of M46/47, every way possible.

    The main posting is rife with misinformation and the comments from anonymous and BRO compound the problem.

    Here is the original post's sentence on M46:
    "Constitutional Amendment 46 is a single-sentence that gives away your free speech rights now and in the future."

    Here is that one sentence:

    "Notwithstanding any other provision of this Constitution, the people through the initiative process or the Legislative Assembly by a three-fourths vote of both Houses, may enact and amend laws to prohibit or limit contributions and expenditures, of any type or description, to influence the outcome of any election."

    So, where have our rights gone? Nowhere! How have our "free speech rights been given away? They haven't!

    The next sentence is so dishonest that I'm ashamed to be a BRO volunteer:
    "This Constitutional amendment attempts to override all existing Constitutional free speech protections as they relate to campaign contributions and expenditures. It would allow any ballot measure or act of the legislature to suspend our current free speech protection under the Oregon Bill Of Rights, surrendering those rights to George Bush's Supreme Court."
    Justify that statement with the text of M46. This is a fear tactic worthy of the Bush regime itself.

    The statement goes on to list those subject to its "extreme limitations on political speech": individuals, non-profits, membership organizations, unions, and political parties. But, it leaves out corporations, who outspend unions five to one.
    It claims there is "potential for several key provisions likely to be struck down by the court," but says nothing to justify that "concern" and goes on to call it "a Frankenstein monster." Name-calling is for schoolyard arguments, not for constitutional discussion.

    Next scare tactic: one of the funders only lives part time in Oregon! Omigod! They don't mention who that terrible person is, so I will.
    He is Harry Lonsdale. He made a fortune with Bend Research, Inc. Why is it called Bend Research? Because that's where he built the company and where he lives. He ran for US senator as a Dem with the intention of getting money out of campaigns and – surprise, surprise – continues to try to do that.
    As of Oct. 26, here are the major donors to M46/47:
    Dan Meek: $164,000
    Harry Lonsdale & Bryn Hazell: $ 149,000
    Over 1,500 other individual contributors: $123,000
    All contributions are from Oregonian residents and small businesses, except $400 from 3 out-of-state individual contributors and $500 from Ken Lewis, who resides in Portland but contributed from his Idaho address.
    Ninety percent of the money was spent in the effort to collect over 280,000 signatures on the two measures, which was assisted by over 1,000 volunteer petitioners.

    The BRO statement then lists the organizations that are against it.
    Among them are the ACLU, several unions and the AFL-CIO, and some non-profits.

    The ACLU has been busy defending the bizarre premise that money equals free speech. This means one person's ability to spend $10,000 on an election is somehow equivalent to another's ability to spend $50. I don't think so.

    The unions have been spending a lot of time recently protecting their prerogatives at the cost of their members and the public's long-term well-being:

    The unions came out against the universal healthcare measure (M27) because they already had their members healthcare through collective bargaining. But that only protects employed people and those (fewer all the time) instances where union retirees continue to get those benefits. If a union brother or sister loses the job that connects him or her to healthcare benefits, SOL, kids.

    Similarly, the unions and the non-profits are responding to this measure from a selfish and short-sighted perspective. They have an organized way to raise money and they don't want to have to adjust to the provisions of M47, which, by the way, will not prevent like-minded people from raising money together (see http://www.sos.state.or.us/elections/nov72006/guide/meas/m47_es.html).

    What M47 will do is prevent corporations and, yes, unions and non-profits, from raising huge amounts of money and, consequently, have more influence on elections for candidates – and it is only candidate elections they affect – than individuals could possibly afford.

    As noted above, corporations are the big players in candidate elections, not unions or non-profits. That's why our legislature does so little to protect us from the profiteering of those corporations – truthfully, it does so much to help corporations take from the state to pay to their shareholders (see Enron, PGE, and all the other businesses who have been paying nothing or the corporate minimum tax of $10 a year).

    Back to the statement: "46 & 47 will do nothing to stop one of the most pressing campaign finance issues in Oregon, leaving wealthy financiers Loren Parks, Howard Rich and Harry Lonsdale, who personally bankrolled these two measures ..."

    Reading that sentence, wouldn't you think that Loren Parks and New Yorker Harry Rich had contributed to M46/47? Well, they haven't. That sentence is just another sleazy scare tactic by people who are letting their self-interest get in the way of honest argument.

    I don't know what Parks and Rich do, but I do know how Lonsdale got his wealth: he was a scientist and manufacturer. But financier is so much scarier! I shiver at the very word!

    Anonymous's bogus argument was nicely dispatched by Tom Civiletti, But BRO's still needs to be dealt with.

    "There are obvious loopholes in this legislation that even Dan Meek has admitted to, and big money can afford to search until it finds others." So, what are the obvious loopholes? I guess they're so obvious BRO doesn't think they have to be mentioned.

    "Who this measure really hurts is unions that represent working families, political non-profits like BRO and individuals. BRO, for instance, isn't a 'big money' organization. We represent a disfavored minority in our state and we pool small contributions in order to deliver a louder message."

    Pulling out every stop here: working families, a disfavored minority. hand me my handkerchief, please.

    As I noted above, individuals can organize for purposes of campaign contributing, they just can't contribute more than $50 to any single small donor committee (the method of pooling resources in M47), more than $500 to any other single political committee, more than $2,000 in aggregate to a political party, or more than $2,500 in aggregate contributions. Once again, see the link above to the M47 explanation from the voters' pamphlet.

    Then BRO says that pooling contributions through a non-profit "is the ONLY tool we have to hold legislators accountable." But M47 has the small donor committee to accomplish that same thing.

    BRO suggests a different option than M47: "Strict caps are not the solution--greater transparency in campaign finance reporting and lobbyist gifts etc. with harsh penalties for those who break the rules is a better way to go."

    I have two responses. One, we do not know this. Two, that's not on the ballot.

    While BRO claims – as an argument against M47 – "folks with BIG money can ... hire big lawyers and firms to help them get around campaign finance laws and can still hire big time lobbyists with big expense accounts to gain favor with legislators"; they neglect to see how that argument works against the "greater transparency" idea. It is still a law that the "BIG money" interests can get around.

    Finally, BRO repeats the flawed argument that M46/47 "will tie the hands of organizations working for average Oregonians." This is allegedly because they will be prevented from "pooling resources and collective organizing." But, yet again, I mention the small donor committee provision of M47.

    I have been volunteering for BRO since Measure 9, and I will continue to be there when needed. But, I am deeply disturbed and disappointed by their using the same tactics they deplore from the right wing – misrepresentation, fear and innuendo – to attack an excellent chance to get big money out of candidate campaigns.    



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