Put Good Money into Politics 

The $50 Tax Loophole for the Poor and Infamous

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LET'S FACE IT—politics costs money. What can we do besides wring our hands in concern? We need to get more regular people to donate just a little bit of cash to political groups and campaigns, so the politickers can rely less on self-interested corporations and richy-pants individuals.

Just in time for the season of holiday giving, a special tax write-off comes to our attention that allows just this kind of regular-person political donating. An obscure section of Oregon political contribution law says that individuals who donate up to $50 to a political action committee (PAC) can knock that amount, dollar for dollar, off their taxes. So you can either pay the state $50 more in April, or you can donate it now to a cause you actually care about.

In 2006, only 5.2 percent of Oregonian taxpayers took advantage of this write-off. This year, the Mercury did the homework for you: Here are three great local PACs you should cut a $50 check to before January 1, 2010. Just keep the receipt. You're welcome.

STAND FOR CHILDREN

For shame: Only 68 percent of Oregon students graduate on time from high school. But it's no surprise why our schools suck despite the good intentions of parents and teachers—Oregon's tax structure screws the schools out of the money they need. Stand for Children's PAC endorses and supports politicians who are working to get public schools a fair chunk of the pie.

Where to give: stand.org/or/pac

BUS PROJECT

This homegrown group is devoted to getting more Oregonians involved in politics and more progressive candidates into Salem seats. Plus they know how to have a good time. During 2008, their 1,000 volunteers and handful of paid staff knocked on 50,000 doors campaigning for progressive candidates. They're building a well-connected coalition of untraditional political powerhouses: Of the 8 Oregon representatives under age 35, three now sit on the Bus Project's board of directors. Watch your back, old conservatives.

Where to give: busproject.org

BASIC RIGHTS OREGON

Right now, only about 45 percent of Oregonians support the idea of full same-sex marriage rights. But if anyone can get the bigotry out of our ballot box, it's Basic Rights Oregon, which has already launched a campaign to amend the Oregon Constitution in 2012 to allow same-sex marriage. They're a tough lobbying group on other LGBT issues, too: The legislature passed all three of the bills Basic Rights Oregon supported last session.

Where to give: basicrights.org

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