Oregon spending limit draws out of state money

Out-of-state groups associated with libertarian Howard Rich have spent more than $1 million to persuade voters to clamp a tough spending limit on government in Oregon, new spending reports show.

Measure 48’s opponents, meanwhile, have raised twice that much to defeat the spending limit, much of it from some of Oregon’s largest unions, the reports showed.

Among the other nine measures on the Nov. 7 ballot, the spendiest continues to be Measure 42, which would bar the use of credit ratings to set insurance rates.

The insurance industry has helped bankroll the $4.8 million campaign to defeat it. Among the larger contributors is State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance, which so far has given $803,000.

The spending limit campaign has been hard fought, with anti-tax advocates saying Measure 48 will impose fiscal restraint on government while opponents say it would cripple funding for schools and other vital state services.

The report filed by the pro-Measure 48 campaign showed that nearly all of the $1.2 million raised so far has come from groups affiliated with Rich, the New York libertarian who’s financed ballot measures in various states aimed at limiting government.

Chicago-based Americans for Limited Government, of which Rich is board chairman, has contributed $730,000 for the Oregon spending limit campaign. Club for Growth State Action, a Chicago group with Rich on the leadership council, contributed another $300,000.

The group leading the opposition to Measure 48 reported raising $2.62 million so far including $723,000 from the Oregon Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, and $307,000 from Local 503 of the Service Employees International Union, the largest union of state workers.

The campaign group, called the Defend Oregon Coalition, also has been working to defeat Measure 41, which would reduce state income taxes by giving Oregonians the same personal income tax deduction as on their federal return.

There’s been little visible campaign in favor of Measure 41, which is sponsored by Russ Walker, the Oregon director of FreedomWorks.

In Thursday’s report, the group said it has raised and spent only $18,144.

Walker said Thursday that FreedomWorks is more focused its other proposal, Measure 40, to require Supreme Court justices and Court of Appeals judges to run from geographic districts instead of statewide.

The Measure 40 campaign reported raising $484,308 so far for the measure, which supporters say would bring more geographic diversity to the state’s highest courts. Donors who contributed to the campaign through the Oregon Family Farm Association include Nevada conservative Loren Parks, who gave $200,000.

Opponents who say the measure would politicize the courts reported raising $294,135 so far, much of it from individual attorneys and law firms. The Oregon Education Association chipped in $38,000 against the measure.

One of the most contentious issues, whether to require doctors to notify at least one parent in writing if their 15, 16 or 17-year-old daughter is seeking an abortion — has drawn hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions, the reports showed.

The Committee to Protect Our Teen Daughters, which favors the measure, has raised $785,604, and spent $798,717. With payments still owing, the group is $112,280 in debt.

But more could come from the group’s biggest donor, the political action committee of Oregon Right to Life, which donated about $475,000 in the last month.

Their opponents, the No on 43 committee, have outraised and outspent them, bringing in $1.29 million so far, and spending $1.17 million. The group’s largest donor is Planned Parenthood of the Columbia-Willamette, which has given about $300,000 in the last month.

A group seeking to reimpose term limits on Oregon legislators reported raising $1.3 million to date, more than $1.2 million of it from a national advocacy group, U.S. Term Limits.

The term limits campaign reported that it still has $1 million to persuade voters that reimposing term limits will being fresh blood to the Legislature.

Term limits foes, meanwhile, have been running an under-the-radar campaign so far, but have nevertheless raised six-figure sums to try and defeat the measure. Groups opposing the proposal run the gamut, from the Service Employees International Union to the Oregon Restaurant Association.

Left-leaning publisher Win McCormack, who founded Mother Jones magazine and the Oregon literary publication Tin House gave $75,000 to the Protect Our Voice committee, which opposes term limits. The group has reported raising $156,606, and spending $40,278.

Another anti-term limits group, Oregonians for Voter Choice, has raised more than $235,000, including $41,966 from Oregonians Against Unhealthy Taxes, which led the charges against a 2004 ballot measure on universal health care, which was ultimately defeated.

Proponents of measures to amend the state constitution and impose restrictions on campaign contributions reported raising $587,341 for a campaign aimed at decreasing the influence that big campaign donors now hold.

Harry Lonsdale, one of the sponsors’ chief backers and a former U.S. Senate candidate, contributed $115,000, the reports showed.

Corporations and labor unions listed contributions of $332,000 to one campaign committee opposign the measures on grounds they weaken free speech guarantees and hurt the ability of groups and individuals to contribute to candidates they support.

A separate campaign group that’s opposing Measures 46 and 47, the campaign finance limit proposals, reported raising $156,000.