Kyle Markley, candidate for Oregon Secretary of State

Kyle Markley
for Oregon Secretary of State

I published the following argument in opposition to Measure 107 in the Oregon Voters' Pamphlet for the 2020 General Election.

An argument against large political contributions is that large donors might gain "undue influence" over an elected official. But do contributions actually influence the behavior of politicians?

If my campaign slogan is "a chicken in every pot," and the National Chicken Council gives my campaign a million dollars, they aren't influencing me — I already supported their interests. Indeed, that's why they chose to support me! There is no corruption, just honest support of a like-minded candidate.

Consider a hypothetical case of special interest favoritism:

  1. Legislative candidate announces platform
  2. Special interest likes their platform
  3. Special interest makes large contribution
  4. Candidate spends contribution on political speech
  5. Political speech persuades voters
  6. Candidate wins election, becomes legislator
  7. Legislation favoring special interest is introduced
  8. Contribution causes legislator to support legislation
  9. Legislator votes for legislation
  10. Legislation becomes law
  11. Special interest benefits

The locus of corruption is in step #8, where the legislator's vote was swayed by the campaign contribution. This can only happen when the legislator considers the special interest's future support as essential to their political career, as a legislator in an uncompetitive district needs no support, and a retiring or term limited one doesn't need to please anyone. Also, the legislator must be ideologically against the law, or there's no influence.

Contribution limits attempt to disrupt this sequence at #3, which is many steps removed from the problem. Contributions fund speech that might persuade voters enough for a candidate to win election, and then that legislator might be persuaded, against their own ideology, on the hopes of future contributions, to support a bad law. Should we censor political speech because of a very unlikely tertiary consequence of other peoples' actions? Of course not!

It's wrong to take away one person's rights because of someone else's actions.

The fear of "undue influence" is overblown, anyway. It makes much more sense to support someone who already agrees with you than to give funding to your opponents.

Vote NO on 107.

All of my other arguments against Measure 107 are available online.

© Kyle Markley
Libertarian candidate for Oregon Secretary of State
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