Piper Fund

Big Money in Oregon State Elections: The Need to Restore Balance to Democracy by Empowering Small Donors

The dominating influence of large political donors shapes elections from beginning to end—from an individual’s decision to run for office, to a candidate’s ability to get his or her message out to the public, to the makeup of the people with whom a candidate spends time while running for and serving in office.

A review of campaign finance data
from the 2016 Oregon state elections shows that just 723 large donors to electoral campaigns outgave all small donors by nearly 14 to 1—overwhelming the voices of regular Oregonians in candidate and ballot measure races. In addition to drowning out regular voters, the dominance of big money may also affect who runs for office in the first place by deterring talented, committed, public-spirited people who don’t have access to wealthy donors.

Oregon should adopt the proven strategy of matching small contributions to political campaigns.

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