Ben Unger Opposes “We the People” Initiative

Ben Unger and Our Oregon Oppose Campaign Finance Reform

Ben Unger and Our Oregon Oppose Campaign Finance Reform

Ben Unger, Executive Director of  Our Oregon has come out against the“Oregon We the People” initiative, which is Oregon’s version of Move to Amend, and against the right of Oregon voters to petition for a federal Constitutional Amendment that would provide that corporations are not people and money is not speech. The initiative asks for a Constitutional Convention to adopt an Amendment to the US Constitution that would reverse the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. That decision established constitutional rights in  artificial legal entities like Corporations and Unions by holding that they were  “people” entitled to all the constitutional rights of natural persons, and that  money was speech.

The “Oregon We the People Coalition” gathered 1,000 signatures by May, 2014 and received it’s ballot title and summary from the Secretary of State on July 14th, 2014.  In the two week comment period, the Secretary of State received seven comments. The first six comments received recommended several changes in the wording of the title and statements. Three of those comments were from the chief petitioners. The last comment to be submitted was from from the high powered law firm of Stoll Berne. We should take special note of this comment.

The Stoll Berne letter (You need to scroll down to the last letter. It’s unsigned and unattributed to any attorney), stated that Stoll Berne represented Ben Unger as an elector (voter). Mr. Unger is the Executive Director of Our Oregon and a former Democratic Representative.

The Unger comment goes further than any of the other 6 previous comments. One unique argument Mr. Unger makes is that that the ballot initiative statements are inaccurate because campaign spending is already regulated. While it’s true that there are some regulations for some entities involved in elections, many would find it rather specious to claim that an abbreviated explanation of the initiative should include a statement that election spending is regulated. It’s particularly ironic when the argument is made by the Executive Director of a 501(c)4 dark money entity like Our Oregon.

Ben-Unger-against-WeThePeople Initiative

But more important is the last section of the Unger comment, entitled “THE INITIATIVE DOES NOT COMPLY WITH THE PROCEDURAL REQUIREMENTS OF THE OREGON CONSTITUTION”. In this section, Unger argues that to the Secretary of State that

“…your office should not issue a certified ballot title for the initiative, and should take no further action on the initiative other than to declare that it fails to comply with the procedural requirements of the Oregon Constitution”

Basically Unger is saying to the Secretary of State, do not put this on the ballot.

I don’t believe that Mr. Unger would file these comments supporting dark money spending by corporations and contesting the rights of the Oregon people to petition government without the approval of the Our Oregon Board of Directors. Absent a statement from Our Oregon that they disavow the attack on the initiative I believe it’s fair to assume that Unger’s position is the official position of Our Oregon. They stand behind the Citizens United decision and the resulting purchase of public policy by narrow special interests.

Our Oregon. Aptly named?

– Rob Harris –






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