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Oregon passes campaign finance reform to limit contributions to political candidates

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Thursday Oregon lawmakers passed a campaign finance reform bill that limits the amount of money people and political parties can contribute to candidates. “Oregon is currently one of roughly a dozen states that has no limits on campaign contributions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures” reports the Associated Press.  The bill heads to Governor Tina Kotek, who is expected to sign it, as her office said that she supports the legislation in an email Thursday after the bill’s final passage.

Wealthy donors have been giving millions of dollars to their candidates of choice in key state races. Under the Oregon bill, starting in 2027, individuals and corporations can only give up to $3,300 to a statewide candidate per election cycle. Political party committees can give up to $30,000 and “membership organizations,” such as labor unions and nonprofit advocacy groups, can contribute a total of $26,400 to a statewide candidate per cycle.

The bill would make Oregon equivalent to federal campaign contribution limits for candidates. Under federal law, individuals can donate up to $3,300 to federal candidates per election, although the amount of money they can give to political action committees, or Super PACs, has no cap.

Limits would be lower for non-statewide candidates running in legislative, district attorney or circuit court judge races. Political parties and “membership organizations” could donate up to $15,000 and $13,200, respectively, to such candidates. The $3,300 limit for individuals and corporations remains the same.

The Associated Press notes in order to promote transparency, the bill also directs the secretary of state, starting in 2028, to create an online dashboard that lists the 100 largest contributors to candidates or campaign committees and shows how much money industry groups donate to candidates.

The AP gives the specific example of the 2022 gubernatorial race, in which the billionaire co-founder of Oregon-based Nike, Phil Knight, donated more than $3.7 million to unaffiliated candidate Betsy Johnson and $1.5 million to Republican candidate Christine Drazan. Kotek, a Democrat, was ultimately elected governor.

“We don’t want to live in a world where the Phil Knights and the other big spenders can just spend unlimited money,” Jason Kafoury with Honest Elections Oregon said while testifying in support of the bill. “Phil Knight will have to give $3,300 just like everybody else.”

Kafoury has advocated for campaign finance reform for years and hailed the bill’s passage as a “remarkable accomplishment.” He said Honest Elections Oregon and another group that had been pushing to get the issue on the November ballot will drop their petitions if the governor signs it.

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Elections

BREAKING: Hunter Biden Found Guilty on All Three Felony Charges

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Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, was found guilty on all three felony charges on Tuesday. After a six-day trial, a jury concluded that the first son lied on a federal gun-purchase background-check form by falsely claiming he was not a drug addict. The jury deliberated for three hours, starting Monday afternoon following the conclusion of closing arguments.

Hunter Biden was convicted on two charges for lying about his crack-cocaine addiction on federal gun paperwork when he purchased a Colt Cobra revolver on October 12, 2018. Additionally, he was found guilty of a third charge for possessing the firearm while addicted to crack cocaine.

According to National Review, the criminal trial exposed deep rifts within the Biden family. Hunter’s ex-wife, Kathleen Buhle, and his deceased brother Beau Biden’s widow, Hallie Biden, testified against him. This created an emotional divide within the family, especially when Naomi Biden, the eldest daughter of Buhle and Hunter, testified for the defense, pitting mother against daughter.

Federal prosecutors Derek Hines and Leo Wise led the case against Hunter Biden as part of special counsel David Weiss’s legal team. Throughout the trial, Weiss was present in the courtroom, often seen conversing and eating chocolates during breaks.

Prosecutors presented what they described as “overwhelming evidence” of Hunter Biden’s drug addiction at the time he completed the gun purchase. This evidence included witness testimony, text messages, videos, images, bank records, and excerpts from Hunter’s memoir. Key testimonies from Hallie Biden, gun salesman Gordon Cleveland, and ex-girlfriend Zoe Kestan were crucial in establishing Hunter Biden’s pattern of drug use and his decision to lie about his addiction.

Defense attorney Abbe Lowell argued that Hunter Biden’s behavior had improved around the time of the gun purchase, asserting that he did not “knowingly” lie on the federal paperwork. However, the testimonies of Kestan and Cleveland, along with Hunter Biden’s own admissions of drug use in texts and memoir excerpts, posed significant challenges to the defense’s narrative.

Throughout the trial, Lowell conducted extensive cross-examinations of the prosecution’s witnesses and disputed the context of the evidence presented. However, Leo Wise’s cross-examination of Naomi Biden, where he scrutinized her text messages with her father from October 2018, proved to be a pivotal moment, undermining her defense testimony.

Before the verdict, President Biden stated he would respect the jury’s decision and would not pardon his son if convicted. At the trial’s onset, President Biden issued a statement expressing pride in his son’s efforts to overcome his drug addiction.

Hunter Biden is scheduled to face another trial in September on nine federal tax charges related to his alleged failure to pay over $1.4 million in taxes over four years.

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