Oregon’s Wealthiest Man Has Caused Tina Kotek to Take Contribution Limits Seriously—or at Least Claim She Does

Tina Kotek, the Democratic nominee locked in a dead heat in the Oregon governor’s race, took time out from campaigning Oct. 10 to hold a “roundtable on campaign finance reform.” The event was occasioned by Nike co-founder Phil Knight writing Kotek’s Republican opponent, Christine Drazan, a check for $1 million on Oct. 6.

“Oregon is in danger of flipping red due to the influx of large donations from billionaires and corporate special interests looking to influence the election,” Kotek’s campaign wrote in an email publicizing the roundtable.

There’s some irony in Kotek’s newfound interest in limiting campaign contributions.

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Kotek pledges support for campaign finance limits, will accept big checks to get elected – Oregon Capital Chronicle

Democrat Tina Kotek pledged Monday to make capping campaign contributions one of her top priorities if she’s elected governor – but she won’t turn down large campaign checks. 

Kotek, Republican Christine Drazan and nonaffiliated candidate Betsy Johnson last week surpassed the $40 million fundraising record set by Democratic Gov. Kate Brown and Republican nominee Knute Buehler in 2018. The three have raised more than $42 million combined since January 2021, buoyed by large checks from national Democratic and Republican groups, labor unions, businesses and Nike co-founder Phil Knight, who has personally spent $6.75 million this year to boost Johnson, Drazan and Republicans running for the Oregon Legislature.  

During a Portland town hall with campaign finance reform advocates Monday morning, Kotek criticized the state’s lack of campaign finance limits, and particularly how they allow Oregon’s wealthiest man to single-handedly spend millions on campaigns.

She’s calling to limit individual contributors to $2,000 for statewide races and $1,000 for legislative races in future elections, but she said she wouldn’t refuse a $1 million check from an individual.

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Democratic Oregon governor candidate Tina Kotek highlights support for contribution limits

Democratic candidate for Oregon governor Tina Kotek on Monday pledged to make contribution limits a top priority if voters elect her, citing the ongoing role of large donations in state races.

“We’re going to put this at the top of the list,” Kotek said at a roundtable with campaign finance advocates. “The Legislature will pass limits and if they don’t, we’re at the ballot.”

Kotek and the campaign finance reform advocates pointed to the outsize role of Nike co-founder Phil Knight, who has spent $6.9 million in the last year supporting a Republican effort to win more seats in the Oregon Legislature and unaffiliated governor candidate Betsy Johnson, a former longtime Democratic lawmaker who voted with Republicans against gun and environmental regulations.

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The best archive of Campaign Finance Reform history in Oregon

Honest-Elections is a coalition of fantastic folk representing organizations like the Pacific Green Party, Progressive Party, Independent Party, the Progressive Caucus of the Democratic Party, Common Cause, OSPIRG, League of Women Voters, Portland Forward, COIN/Indivisible and individuals committed to ending the undue influence of money in elections.

We are aiming to have a petition drive in 2024 to ensure that Oregon has

1)  Proper Limits on money flowing in and flowing out of campaigns

2)  Disclosure of the real donors of "Independent Expenditures" (political ads, so called "Dark-Money")

3)  Matching public financing of campaigns

Please contact the coalition to get your organization involved and at the table.