August 28, 2006

Oregon: Challenging Out-of-State Initiative Backers

National news outlets have reported recently on the troubling influence of out-of-state money in financing often-damaging ballot initiatives around the nation. Today Blue Oregon reports that Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski has challenged one of the biggest offenders, the aptly-named Howard Rich, to come to Oregon to debate a TABOR-style tax initiative that Rich has helped bankroll. Here's an excerpt from a letter Kulongoski has apparently sent Rich:
Since you are the chief financial backer of Oregon ballot Measure 48, I invite you to Oregon to publicly debate the merits of the measure. You have already put $1.1 million dollars into this effort, so I am certain that you can afford the price of a plane ticket. ... For too long out-of-state special interests have used Oregon as a laboratory for their failed ideas... If you are willing to pour millions into our state as a social experiment, the least you can do is come here and explain in person to Oregon voters why the face of our future is so important to you.
Outstanding stuff. The media folks who have documented the role of out-of-state money in bankrolling ballot initiatives are helping to make it clear that what was once viewed as an important experiment in direct democracy is now, in many states, as beholden to monied interests as the regular legislative process. Kudos to Governor Ted for calling Howard Rich out.


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