PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon Supreme Court ruled Thursday that limits on campaign contributions are legal in Oregon.
The court said limits do not violate the state constitution, which means controls can be put on the unlimited flow of cash into campaigns statewide. It also puts an end to Oregon’s distinction as one of the biggest money states in American politics, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
The ruling says $500 campaign limits adopted by Multnomah County voters in 2016 do not run afoul of the state constitution, which for 20 years has prevented controls on the money pouring into political campaigns.
The court’s opinion, authored by Chief Justice Martha L. Walters, concludes that contribution limits are not invalid under the state constitution. It sends the case back to a lower court to decide whether Multnomah County’s dollar limits themselves are too low, while throwing out limits that the same voters set on campaign expenditures.
“We won,” said Dan Meek, the Portland lawyer who led the case.
The case promises additional upheaval in political giving in the midst of an election cycle that has been upended by the coronavirus.
Jason Kafoury, another attorney who has pushed with Meek for limits, said the ruling means that $500 contribution caps in Multnomah County and the city of Portland are “now in effect and fully enforceable. We will seek enforcement of those limits.”
Oregon is one of a handful of states with no limits on campaign donations. A 2019 investigation by The Oregonian/OregonLive showed that the outsize influence of corporate campaign money helped limit environmental protections in a state that once aimed to be an environmental leader.