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Measure 97 Campaign Hits $40 Million Mark After Last-Minute Contributions

Measure 97, the most expensive initiative fight in Oregon history, has now passed the $40 million mark, according to new campaign money disclosures.

The opposition campaign — fueled by national and in-state business interests — still holds a decided money advantage. The Defeat the Tax on Oregon Sales Committee has now raised nearly $26 million.

Among interesting recent contributions: $125,000 from the JP Morgan Chase & Co., and another $175,000 from Walmart (which has given $250,000 in total now).

The Yes on 97 campaign has continued to be funded largely by public employee unions. It’s reached the $14 million mark. Proponents have also received some campaign help from an associated committee, Defend Oregon.

The National Education Association put in another $250,000, setting its total contributions at $2.1 million. Service Employees International Union Local 503 — the largest union representing Oregon state government workers — just reported $201,260 in staff help. All told, the union local has given nearly $3 million.

The corporate tax initiative would raise an estimated $3 billion a year.  It would impose a 2.5 percent tax on sales by corporations with at least $25 million in annual revenues in Oregon.

Some other notable new contributions from the state’s disclosure database:

—In the heated race for secretary of state, the Oregon Education Association gave another $25,000 to Democrat Brad Avakian. Polls show him locked in a tight race with Republican Dennis Richardson. The teachers’ union has now given Avakian $150,000 this year.

—Republican gubernatorial candidate Bud Pierce received another $50,000 from the Republican Governors Association. The group has given him a total of $175,000 in recent weeks.

That’s useful for his under-funded campaign, and it’s a lot more help than Richardson received from the group in his 2014 race for governor. But it pales next to the $2.5 million the GOP governors gave to Republican Chris Dudley in his 2010 race, which he narrowly lost to Democrat John Kitzhaber.

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