An alleged PAC appears to have pressed pause on its campaign spending after a recent Freedom Foundation complaint filed with the Oregon Secretary of State exposed the group’s violations of state election laws.
The complaint, filed in early May, presented evidence that Our Oregon, one of the state’s most prominent union-backed advocacy groups, has been operating as an unregistered PAC since at least 2013. As a result, the group has spent millions of dollars on electoral politics in Oregon over the years without ever reporting a dime – an amount that includes nearly $268 thousand so far this year.
Yet after making contributions at a monthly clip in 2020 (some of the group’s campaign activity is visible if reported by other PACs), the group’s political spending – unregistered as it may be – fell curiously silent during the month of May.
Perhaps the spending freeze is purely coincidental. That’s possible. But as the Secretary of State’s Election Division considers whether to pursue an investigation that could potentially bring a fine for every unregistered transaction made, there might be another reason for Our Oregon to tread lightly.
After making political contributions in each of the preceding months, the lack of activity in May marks a stark change in routine – especially considering it was the last month to gather signatures for a recall petition with which Our Oregon was heavily involved.
The petition ultimately failed to collect enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, and although the campaign’s failure was blamed largely on the social distancing restrictions imposed due to COVID-19, the group’s freeze on door-to-door signature gathering didn’t correspond with its nix on campaign spending.
Campaign finance data show Our Oregon spent at least an additional $43 thousand after shutting down its canvassing efforts on March 15, including a $15,000 cash contribution made to the recall campaign in late April.
With the recall effort presumably alive and well heading into the month of May, Our Oregon’s sudden drop-off in political activity is, at the very least, interesting to note.
One can’t help but wonder if, as the heat of summer approaches, the heat of an investigation does as well.
Oregon Secretary of State, Oregon Elections System for Tracking and Reporting (ORESTAR). Retrieved from https://secure.sos.state.or.us/.
 Oregon Secretary of State, Oregon Elections System for Tracking and Reporting (ORESTAR). Retrieved from