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The City of Portland, Oregon

Auditor Mary Hull Caballero

Promoting open and accountable government

Status of Campaign Finance Charter Amendment

Information and Updates on the City of Portland Campaign Finance Charter Amendment (Portland Ballot Measure 26-200)

Status:

(Latest update: December 20, 2019)

On June 10, 2019 the Multnomah County Circuit Court issued an opinion on the City's petition for summary judgement. The Sections of Code Chapter 2.10 and Charter Chapter 3 regulating campaign finance and disclosure that have not been struck down and subject to additional litigation are effective September 1, 2019. 

Sections upheld by the court: 

City Charter Sections 3-302(b) and Portland City Code Sections 2.10.020(B), requiring certain entities making independent expenditures greater than a threshold amount to register as a Political Committee;

City Charter Sections 3-303 and Portland City Code Sections 2.10.030, requiring certain disclosures be made revealing origins of campaign contributions and independent expenditures;

City Charter Sections 3-301(c) and Portland City Code Sections 2.10.010(C) requiring employers to permit contributions by payroll deductions.

Sections struck down by the court: 

City Charter Sections 3-301 (a)-(b) and Portland City Code Sections 2.10.010 (A)-(B), relating to limitations on campaign contributions; and

City Charter Sections 3-302(a),(c) and Portland City Code Sections 2.10.020(A),(C), relating to limitations on campaign expenditures.

On February 7, 2019, the City Attorney’s Office filed a petition in Multnomah County Circuit Court seeking a ruling that the recent campaign finance City Charter amendment passed by voters and the implementing City Code (Charter Chapter 3, Article 3 and City Code Chapter 2.10) are constitutional under both state and federal constitutions.

On June 19, 2019, the court issued a judgment stating the following in pertinent part:

1) The following sections of Portland City Charter and Portland City Code are invalid: City Charter §§ 3-30l(a)-(b) and 3-302(a), (c) and Portland City Code §§ 2.10.010(A)-(B) and 2.10.020(A), (C).

2) The following sections of Portland City Charter and Portland City Code are valid: City Charter §§ 3-301(c), 3-302(b), and 3-303 and Portland City Code §§ 2.10.0 l 0(C), 2.10.020(B), and 2.10.030.

On June 19, 2019, the City filed notice of appeal (Court of Appeals Case No. A171435) with the Oregon Court of Appeals. 

On December 18, 2019, the Oregon Court of Appeals issued an order holding that appeal in abeyance pending the Supreme Court’s Decision in Multnomah County v. Trojan et al. (Supreme Court Case No. S066445).

Background:

Qualifying for the ballot via an initiative petition, on November 6, 2018, voters amended the City of Portland Charter relating to the election of City of Portland candidates (Mayor, Commissioners, Auditor) by generally requiring:

  • Campaign contribution limits;
  • Expenditure and independent expenditure limits;
  • Registration as a political committee for certain entities;
  • Disclosure requirements for funding for certain types of communications;
  • An employee’s right to make campaign contributions by payroll deduction in some circumstances; and
  • Some mechanisms to administer and enforce those provisions.

On January 16, 2019, the Portland City Council took the first step to carry out the voters’ will by adopting Ordinance No. 189348 to implement the Charter amendment.

On March 6, 2018, the Multnomah County Circuit Court struck down similar provisions passed by Multnomah County voters related to contribution limits, expenditure and independent expenditure limits, and disclosure requirements. City Ordinance No. 189348 therefore asked the City Attorney to petition the court to provide legal certainty (via the validation proceeding currently underway) about the constitutionality of the City’s campaign finance provisions. 

What is the status of the campaign finance legislation while the validation proceedings move their way through the courts?

The campaign finance requirements set forth in Charter Chapter 3, Article 3 and City Code Chapter 2.10 take effect on September 1, 2019. The City is hopeful that the Multnomah County Circuit Court will issue a ruling validating the legality of these provisions before the September implementation date.

Related documents:

Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Bloch Opinion and Order

City's Validation Petition as Filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court

Charter Amendment (measure 26-200)

City of Portland Ordinance No. 189348 Creation of City Code Chapter 2.10

                Exhibit A, PCC 2.10 Campaign Finance in Candidate Elections

Oregon Revised Statutes Chapter 26 – Campaign Finance Regulation; Election Offenses

Multnomah County Circuit Court Order on Multnomah County’s Motion for Declaration of Validity (Campaign Finance and Disclosure)