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Blair Stenvick
Mayor Ted Wheeler has agreed to follow Multnomah County's campaign donation limits, now that the Oregon Supreme Court has deemed them constitutional.

The rule—which caps campaign donations at $500 per donor—was approved by Multnomah County voters in 2016, but faced an immediate appeal by business interest groups on the grounds that it violated Oregon’s free speech laws. The state's highest court upheld the contested rule on Thursday.

Some local candidates have chosen to adhere to the finance limitations in recent years, despite the policy being unenforceable due to the court challenge. Wheeler, who is running for a second mayoral term, chose not to follow the donation limits in his primary campaign, arguing that the constitutionality of the campaign finance rule was still unclear.

Wheeler has received donations of up to $10,000 in a single transaction.

His position has since changed. On Friday, Wheeler said he plans to adhere to the $500 limitations now that the state's Supreme Court has made its ruling.

In a statement to the Mercury, Wheeler said that the City of Portland's Elections Office has suggested that city campaigns aren't bound by the Supreme Court's ruling, "which technically would allow my campaign to continue soliciting larger donations."

Yet Portland voters approved an identical campaign finance policy for city campaigns in 2018. It had been suspended while the Multnomah County policy was being decided.

"To avoid even more confusion," Wheeler continued, "and to make it clear to voters that we agree contribution limits are now state law, we are going to adopt the voter approved limits without exception."

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Wheeler did not indicate that he would be returning any previous donations that surpass $500.

In his statement, Wheeler urged the Oregon Legislature to establish more uniform rules around campaign finance limitations in its 2021 session.

"Every candidate should be held accountable to the same standards," said Wheeler.