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Recent Changes to the SDE Administrative Rules

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The program's Administrative Rules were adjusted to make the program easier and clearer for participants. Read below for a summary of the changes.

The Small Donor Elections program has published a final rulemaking, which is effective as of November 30, 2023 (except one provision noted below). These rule changes were authorized by the Portland Elections Commission. Many of these changes were suggested by users and stakeholders and were adopted after a four week public comment process. Click below to read the updated Administrative Rules:

We encourage any participating candidates, campaigns, stakeholder organizations, or members of the public to reach out if you have questions or want further clarification.

The summary is divided into three sections: key changes, minor changes, and technical changes.

Key Changes:

  1. Retroactive to the beginning of the 2024 election cycle, the program will match contributions to each candidate, regardless of whether the same contributor gave to another candidate running for the same seat.
  2. The program will exempt food and drink as in-kind contributions if they are incidental to the event at which they are served, to align with state law.
  3. The definition of “small donor organization” was adjusted to permit a small donor organization to transfer a lump sum to a political committee and have the political committee qualify as a small donor organization as long as its other contributions, if any, also fit the definition of a small donor organization.
  4. The amount a participating candidate may receive as an in-kind from an organization was increased from $5,000 to $10,000, now that there is only one election, not two elections each with a $5,000 limit.
  5. Language was added to differentiate legitimate discounts from in-kind contributions, including new definitions (“approximate date of sale”, “consumer”, “fair market value”) and a clear rule (6F-G) that clarifies how legitimate discounts are differentiated from in-kind contributions, what evidence establishes fair market value, and when such evidence is presented by each party in an investigation, penalty, and appeal process. This should bring clarity to campaigns when accepting discounts and the program when enforcing the law.

Minor Changes:

  1. Added property to goods and services permitted as in-kind contributions in democracy building activities to align with state definitions.
  2. Added real or personal property to definition of in-kind contribution.
  3. Clarified definitions of “loan” and “debt” to include any accounts payable that is paid outside of a reasonable time frame, regardless of whether it is invoiced or not.
  4. Clarified definition of “publicly neutral” to specify that disqualifying contributions, endorsements, and expenditures must be for a candidate, not for another measure.
  5. Clarified the exemption process for the prohibition on self-dealing.
  6. Explicitly permitted campaigns to use campaign funds to purchase reasonably priced tickets to events attended for campaign purposes.
  7. To align with a City Code change, changed the emergency rulemaking process from the Director playing a role to the Portland Elections Commission playing the role.

Technical Changes:

  1. Changed capitalization in various spots, for consistency.
  2. Changed some plurals to singular and vice versa for clarity and consistency.
  3. Clarifying language by adding words such as “and”, “a”, and “the” where appropriate.
  4. Changing text to abbreviations, where appropriate, for consistency (e.g. Portland City Code to PCC).
  5. Changing “shall” to “will” for consistency with other city laws and rules.