Friday, April 13, 2007

Commission Releases Report on PDX Public Campaign Finance

Haven't read through much of it yet, but it's out, and here it is.{pdf} More as we analyze, with particular interest in the commentary on Appendix C: Summary of Emilie Boyles' Candidacy...! For now, here's part of the Executive Summary, on whether the process met the goals laid out for it:
Commission Findings about the CFF’s Success in Meeting its Goals

The Commission identified six goals expressed by the public and City Council for the CFF:

1. Reducing the perceived influence of large money donor and other special interests in campaigns: The 2006 election does suggest that the CFF can help reduce the influence of large money donors. This conclusion must be tempered by the recognition of the historic success of incumbents. In the race between Ginny Burdick and incumbent Commissioner Erik Sten, Ginny Burdick (who did not participate in the CFF) raised more money, $230,086, including two contributions from business interests of $30,000 and $46,000. Erik Sten participated in the CFF and limited his spending to $204,894, which included matching funds triggered by Burdick’s spending levels. Incumbent Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who opted not to participate in the CFF, limited his spending in order to be consistent with the spirit of the fund.

2. Reducing overall campaign spending: Compared with recent past Commissioner elections, less total money was spent for the two offices in 2006 than in 2004 ($935,000 in 2006 compared to $1.2 million when adjusted for inflation*1). However, one of the 2004 races was an open seat, and races involving incumbents have historically involved less total spending than in Citizen Campaign Commission elections with open seats. Only by observing records of future elections with open seats will it be possible to determine whether the CFF has succeeded in reducing overall campaign spending.

3. Supporting more competitive elections, including increasing the
challenges to incumbents: The CFF may not have increased the number of challenges to the incumbents in this first round of elections. It did increase the effectiveness of a first-time candidate, Amanda Fritz, who successfully qualified for the CFF and received 24.5 percent of the vote.

4. Increasing representation of under-represented groups among candidates: In this first round of City elections utilizing the CFF, it is unclear whether public funds increased the number of women or minority candidates. Out of 14 candidates, three women (one a person of color), sought public funds. (One other person of color filed but was removed from the ballot under state law for running for more than one office at the same time.) Whether or not the CFF will increase the involvement of women and minority candidates will take more time and open seats to determine.

5. Increasing candidate contact with voters: Interviews with candidates who used the CFF indicated that all the candidates believed that it allowed them to spend more time face-to-face with citizens rather than fund-raising. Commissioner Sten, for example, stated that he involved more supporters than he had in past races, which he attributed to the CFF’s emphasis on person-to-person campaigning rather than fund-raising. A recent analysis by the Money in Politics Research Action Project (MiPRAP) had similar findings: Qualifying contributions to participating CFF candidates came from residents of virtually all of Portland’s neighborhoods.

6. To assure appropriate protection and management of public funds: Erik Sten and Amanda Fritz both successfully participated in the CFF. They complied with all rules and qualification requirements. Emilie Boyles, however, was found by the City Auditor to have violated provisions of the CFF spending rules. In addition, her campaign consultant (Volodymyr Golovan) used fraudulent techniques in assisting the failed qualification process of Lucinda Tate, and in December 2006 he was indicted by a Grand Jury for theft of public funds, identity theft, and forgery. Golovan’s indictments also raise questions about the validity of his work collecting qualifying contributions for Boyles. All these problems are addressed with Commission recommendations.