SALEM — Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, has proposed a law to prohibit state contractors and public unions from contributing to political campaigns.
The legislation has a companion bill that would require bidders on state contracts to disclose their five greatest campaign contributions in the state.
“Oregon is a small place with good people, but sometimes these relationships between elected officials and state contractors get way too cozy,” Buehler said. “We need to find a way to make it more professional and have more transparency. I think it’s important that people have confidence in their government.”
Buehler was scheduled to drop the legislation Monday, the same day an opinion piece in Forbes Magazine by Illinois-based conservative activist Adam Andrzejewski claimed that Gov. Kate Brown and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum have received more than $800,000 combined in campaign contributions from more than 200 state contractors.
Buehler, who is a rumored candidate for the 2018 gubernatorial race, tweeted out a link to the opinion piece Monday when he announced he had introduced the legislation. In an interview with the Pamplin Media Group/EO Media Group Capital Bureau, Buehler cited Illinois as a state that had passed laws similar to his proposals.
The Bend Republican had been looking into campaign finance reforms well before Andrzejewski penned his opinion. In 2015, Buehler’s office obtained advice from Legislative Counsel indicating that a constitutional amendment to ban public labor unions from contributing to elected officials’ campaigns would hold up against a legal challenge.
The bidder disclosure bill is fashioned after legislation U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, proposed at the federal level.
Gov. Kate Brown’s office had no comment on Buehler’s proposals.
“With the exception of bills pertaining to her legislative priorities, Gov. Brown rarely indicates her predisposition to sign or not sign a bill in advance of it getting to her desk,” said Chris Pair, the governor’s interim communications director. “Before signature is considered, the governor’s legal team reviews every bill for legal sufficiency (passes constitutional muster), and it is imprudent to get ahead of that process.”