Judge: Mayor can keep spending large campaign contributions

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler can keep spending large contributions his campaign collected before the Oregon Supreme Court overturned decades of precedent last week and made campaign donation limits legal in Oregon, a judge ruled Friday.

Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Tom Ryan turned down a request from mayoral candidate Sarah Iannarone and others for a temporary restraining order to prevent Wheeler from spending money he raised while Portland’s voter-enacted limits of $500 per donor were temporarily unenforceable because a Multnomah County judge declared them unconstitutional.

Wheeler’s campaign “reasonably relied on the then-valid judgment in accepting the contributions it accepted,” Ryan ruled verbally at the end of a short hearing,” The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

“What plaintiffs seek is tantamount to a prior restraint” of First Amendments free speech rights, a step for which the U.S. Supreme Court has set an extremely high bar, including showing evidence of irreparable harm and a lack of other remedies, Ryan noted. Wheeler’s critics, he said, did not meet that high bar to justify the court order they sought, he ruled.

Also on Friday, Oregon Secretary of State Ben Clarno said she doesn’t think last week’s Oregon Supreme Court ruling declaring campaign limits constitutional has brought to life voter-approved statewide campaign limits on ice since 2007. Clarno said she relied on advice from the office of Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum. Both denied through their spokeswomen a request to explain the rationale for not treating the voter-enacted limits as in effect.

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