City First in Country to Enact
Full Public Financing of Elections

Portland, OR…By a vote of four to one on May 18, the Portland, Oregon City Council approved Voter Owned Elections for city elections, making it the first city in the country to adopt full public financing of elections, similar to systems in place in Arizona, Maine, and North Carolina.

Under the new Portland law, candidates will have the opportunity to focus on voters rather than donors when running their campaigns. Voter owned candidates will agree to collect $5 qualifying contributions (1,000 for Auditor and City Council, 1,500 for Mayor) to demonstrate community support, reject private donations, limit campaign spending, and agree to strict electioneering regulations. In return, participating candidates will receive limited amounts of campaign dollars from a publicly financed fund.

“ Now Portlanders will own city elections, not special interest lobbyists and big money power brokers,” said Nick Nyhart, executive director of Public Campaign. “From a national perspective, it’s exciting that Portland has become the first city to adopt such a system, which has proved popular and practical in Arizona, Maine , and other states as well.” The new Portland ordinance includes a provision recommending that Voter Owned Elections be referred to the ballot in November 2010, after the city and voters have had experience with the new program over several election cycles.

The Money In Politics Research Action Project, the Portland League of Women Voters, Oregon Action, Public Campaign, the Western States Center, the City Club of Portland, OSPIRG, Common Cause Oregon, and Democracy Matters along with a broad-based coalition of more than 40 advocacy and faith-based organizations, neighborhood associations, community groups, labor unions, all worked together to pass the new law.

Voter Owned Elections, also known as Clean Money, Clean Elections, is the law in five states: in Arizona and Maine for statewide and legislative elections; in North Carolina for judicial elections; in New Mexico for the Public Regulation Commission; and in New Jersey, where there is a pilot program in two legislative districts for the November 2005 general election for Assembly. In more than 30 states, grassroots leaders are working to pass comprehensive publicly financed elections; including Connecticut, where the full legislature is expected to vote on publicly funded campaign proposals within the next two weeks.

Public Campaign is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to sweeping reform that aims to dramatically reduce the role of big special interest money in American politics.


Public Campaign is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to sweeping reform that aims to reduce dramatically the influence of special interest money and big contributors on America’s elections. Public Campaign is laying the foundation for reform by working with citizen organizations and other groups around the country that are fighting for comprehensive change. Together, we are building powerful national force for state and federal reform.