Elections | Economy

Small Group Of Donors Contribute Big To Oregon Ballot Measures

OPB | July 23, 2008 4:31 a.m. | Updated: July 17, 2012 1:15 a.m. | Bend, OR

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By Ethan Lindsey

Oregonians will be able to vote on eight different ballot measures in November.

Tuesday, the Secretary of State's office released the final list of measures that made the ballot. Teacher merit pay, federal tax deductions, and English-only classrooms are just a few of the issues.

And, again, a small number of wealthy individuals bankrolled the effort.

Former state resident and successful businessman Loren Parks has contributed more to Oregon political campaigns than anyone in history, and this year was no different.

He gave nearly $840,000 to help six initiatives reach the ballot, many backed by his friend and former congressional candidate Kevin Mannix.

Janice Thompson is the executive director of Democracy Reform Oregon, a nonpartisan government accountability group.

Janice Thompson: “It's important to realize that ballot measure politics are dominated by big donors. But what's standing out here is the scope of contributions from Loren Parks.”

Thompson says a vote to overhaul the state's primary election system was less dominated by big money donors.

But apart from that, Loren Parks is responsible for 70 percent of the spending this year on successful signature-gathering efforts.

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