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Oregon’s Initiative Process “Checkbook Democracy?”

September 17, 2007

Salem, OR – Loren Parks is no stranger to Oregon's ballot initiative process. So far, he's contributed more than $1 million to fund ten initiatives. A new analysis from Democracy Reform Oregon shows he's given nearly three out of every four dollars to fund the 2008 initiatives filed by conservative activists Russell Walker, Bill Sizemore and Kevin Mannix.

Janice Thompson, author of the report, says although the initiative process is supposed to be a grassroots effort, it's beginning to look more like "checkbook democracy." She believes so much money from a single donor alters the spirit of the initiative process.

"Ballot measure politics are typically dominated by big donors, but this level of giving by Loren Parks to signature- gathering efforts is so high that the populist originators of the initiative process must be rolling over in their graves."

Parks, who now lives in Las Vegas, also contributed $300,000 to three initiative petitions in 2002. The full analysis is available online, at www.democracyreform.org.

Dondrea Warner/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - OR