In Short

Complaint from progressive group alleges PAC for Republican senators isn’t reporting campaign contributions in time

By: - May 17, 2023 5:10 pm

Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, left, works on the Senate floor at the Oregon State Capitol in Salem on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023. (Amanda Loman/Oregon Capital Chronicle)

A progressive group filed a complaint Wednesday alleging that a new political action committee set up to pay legal costs for Republican state senators participating in a walkout broke state campaign finance rules. 

The complaint filed with the Secretary of State’s Office by Michele Ruffin, executive director of Our Oregon, a nonprofit that advocates for social justice, focuses on the new Oregon’s 13 Constitutional Defense Fund’s alleged delay in submitting records of campaign contributions and spending. 

Normally, political action committees have up to 30 days after spending or receiving money to report those transactions through the state’s campaign finance system. But there are stricter deadlines during legislative sessions for lawmakers, statewide elected officials and any political action committees controlled by a legislator or legislative caucus. They have to report all contributions within two business days. 

Oregon’s 13 Constitutional Defense Fund was created May 10 and is listed as a candidate-controlled committee run by Senate Minority Leader Tim Knopp, R-Bend. The committee reported its first transactions on Wednesday, saying it spent $8.04 and received $229.10 on Monday.

The committee is intended to support Knopp and 12 other Republican and independent senators who have refused to participate in Senate floor sessions, making it impossible to pass bills. They plan to use money raised to fund a legal challenge to a voter-approved law barring any legislator with 10 or more unexcused absences from serving another term in the House or Senate. 

Ruffin’s complaint rests on a website created by the committee to solicit contributions. Someone registered with domain registrar GoDaddy on May 5, two days into the walkout, according to publicly available domain registration records. The company charges between about $9 and $25 monthly for website hosting with free domain names.

The website was available to the public by Monday, May 15, though the complaint alleges it was up on May 12. A disclosure at the bottom of the webpage indicates the PAC paid for it. 

“To pay for the website, the committee must have the funds to do so, apparently in the form of unreported contributions – which are being sought on the website itself,” Ruffin wrote. 

She separately asked state officials to investigate whether the website’s use of the senators’ official legislative headshots violated election laws. 

The committee’s treasurer, Alayna Weimer, said in an email that all contributions are being reported within two business days. While candidate-controlled committees need to report contributions within two days, they have 30 days to report on expenses. 


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Julia Shumway
Julia Shumway

Julia Shumway has reported on government and politics in Iowa and Nebraska, spent time at the Bend Bulletin and most recently was a legislative reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times in Phoenix. An award-winning journalist, Julia most recently reported on the tangled efforts to audit the presidential results in Arizona.