News, politics, Salem

Oregon Secretary of State launches database with campaign finance violations

This story originally appeared in the Oregon Capital Chronicle and is republished here under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license. Read more stories at oregoncapitalchronicle.com.

Oregon’s new secretary of state plans to publish monthly databases with information about campaign finance scofflaws. 

Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade said Monday the new database and other website updates are part of the office’s initiative CLEAR, which is not an acronym. A new webpage at oregonvotes.gov/transparency also includes links to training opportunities for candidates and campaign staff and for anyone to view campaign finance information. 

“CLEAR is an important project that will increase compliance with campaign finance laws in Oregon,” Griffin-Valade said in a statement. “Everyone wins when campaigns play by the rules.”

Other states and the Federal Election Commission make information about campaign finance violations available online. The Oregon Government Ethics Commission, which handles complaints about unethical behavior by elected officials, state employees and lobbyists, also posts complaints online after initial investigations. 

Election law complaints, however, have been harder to find even though they’re public records. And investigations can drag on for months or even years.  

The Legislature this spring gave the Secretary of State’s Office more than $250,000 to hire another full-time compliance specialist to handle election complaints. Prior to that, the office had the equivalent of 1.5 full-time employees dedicated to complaints. It received about 300 complaints about the 2022 election. 

The campaign finance violation database has 28 entries, all related to political action committees that missed deadlines for filing campaign finance transactions. In most cases, campaigns have 30 days after a transaction to report it to the state, though those deadlines shrink to seven days close to an election.

The largest fine of the batch, $3,885, was assessed to the Oregon Moms Union, a right-wing political action committee run by MacKensey Pulliam, wife of the mayor of Sandy and 2022 Republican candidate for governor, Stan Pulliam. Oregon Moms Union hasn’t yet paid its fine for filing transactions late.

Oregon Right to Life, an anti-abortion group, paid the second largest fine, nearly $1,350, for filing late and insufficient information. Every violation posted so far occurred in January 2023 and had a final order issued in late June. 

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