Merkley Stops Accepting Corporate PAC Dollars

Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley has stopped taking campaign contributions from corporate political action committees.

According to reporting from OPB, this makes Merkley the first member of Oregon’s seven member congressional delegation to do so. “I felt, in the conversation about how to restore our democracy,” he said, “that it was important for me to recognize and symbolically take this step.”

Business PACs contributed $1.2 million to Merkley’s 2014 reelection campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Merkley raised approximately $12 million for that race.

As stands, the remainder of Oregon’s delegation continue to take corporate PAC dollars.

Oregon’s other U.S. Senator is Democrat Ron Wyden. He raised $13.7 million in campaign contributions between 2013 and 2018, with business related PACs contributing $843,756 of that total. Wyden’s office did not respond to OPB’s request for comment.

Locally, Rep. Peter DeFazio is our congressman. With Democrats now the majority party in the House, DeFazio chairs the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. His latest disclosure report, which covers the first three months of this year, shows he raised $320,000. About half of  those contributions came from PACs, many of them representing interests such as Delta Airlines and Union Pacific.

Oregon’s other three Representatives breakout similarly.

Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader, is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. His donors include interests affected by the committee’s oversight on such issues as health care, energy and telecommunications.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, also a Democrat, became chairman of a trade subcommittee this year. His fundraising totaled $82,000 over the last three months, about a quarter of which was PAC money.

Democratic Rep. Suzanne Bonamici continues to take business PAC contributions, according to her campaign finance reports. She has issued a statement saying she supports legislation to get big money out of politics, but does not address that she still accepts PAC money.

Republican Rep. Greg Walden chaired the Energy and Commerce Committee before Democrats gained control of the House, and he remains its top Republican. About two-thirds of the $327,000 he raised in the last three months came from corporate PACs.

Merkley states he will continue taking PAC dollars from unions and other select interests.