Report: Reclaiming Our Democracy

Outside Spending, Outsized Influence

Big Money and Secret Money in Oregon in the 2012 Elections
Released by: OSPIRG Foundation

 

The 2012 elections were by far the most expensive in history thanks primarily to the tidal wave of outside, special interest money triggered by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. The federal House races in Oregon, where outside groups spent over $1.1 million, were no exception. 

 

SUPER PACs 

Super PACs, the newly created groups that can raise and spend unlimited funds in elections, spent roughly $980,000 on Oregon federal elections. 

Nationwide, Super PACs raised 86% of funds from an elite set of ultra-wealthy donors and businesses giving $100,000 or more. Super PACs also received $101,749,662 from business corporations last year. Allowing special interests to fund attack ads on candidates distorts our democracy in an attempt to ensure that our elected officials put industry and out-of-state interests above the common good. 

[Outside Spending: 501(c)(4) $45,497.88, 4.12%; 527 $81,394.20, 7.37%; Super PAC $978,093.84, 88.52%; Total $1,104,985.92] 

 

SECRET SPENDERS 

Dark money groups accounted for 4.12% of all outside spending in Oregon House races. These groups do not disclose the source of their funds, hiding critical information from voters about who is behind the advertising and what interests are backing which candidates. 

[Secret Spending: Secret $45,497.88, 4.12%; Not Secret $1,059,488.04, 95.88%]
 

OUT-OF-STATE SPENDERS 

Groups federally registered outside of Oregon accounted for 98.88% of all outside spending in Oregon House races. Out-of-state spenders are likely to put their own priorities ahead of the needs and interests of Oregonians, thus skewing the relationships that Representatives have with their constituencies. 

[Spending Origin: In-State $12,355.34, 1.12%; Out-of-State $1,092,630.58, 98.88%]
 

TOP 5 OUTSIDE SPENDERS IN OREGON HOUSE RACES 

1) REPUBLICAN SUPER PAC INC: $438,445.30 – Super PAC 

2) HOUSE MAJORITY PAC: $298,273.04 – Super PAC 

3) WOMEN VOTE!: $241,375.50 – Super PAC 

4) SEIU COPE (SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL UNION COMMITTEE ON POLITICAL EDUCATION): $67,370.00 – PAC 

5) Planned Parenthood Action Fund Inc.: $44,961.89 – Dark Money Group

 

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