Part One of Four
Feb. 22, 2019
Story by Rob Davis
Oregon once aimed to be the greenest state in America.
Its leaders adopted the nation’s first bottle deposit. They controlled urban sprawl. They declared ocean beaches public property.
But in the last four years, Oregon’s most powerful industries have killed, weakened or stalled efforts to deal with climate change, wolf recovery, disappearing bird habitat, cancer-causing diesel exhaust, dwindling groundwater, industrial air pollution, oil spill planning and weed killers sprayed from helicopters.
What changed Oregon?
Money. Lots and lots of money.
The Oregonian/OregonLive spent 18 months examining how and why Oregon has fallen behind on so many important environmental fronts. The newsroom’s investigation found a startling answer, one that may surprise many Oregonians.
Oregon’s failure to regulate campaign cash has made it one of the biggest money states in American politics. The flood of money created an easy regulatory climate where industry gets what it wants, again and again.
“The state is a laughingstock,” says Dave Einolf, a Portland environmental compliance consultant who works with large, multinational corporations. “It has no enforcement. My clients don’t care about Oregon. They’re not afraid of Oregon. It’s just a shame.”
No one has given more money to state lawmakers in Oregon than Corporate America. Companies and industry groups contributed $43 million to winning candidates in elections from 2008 to 2016, nearly half the money legislators raised. Organized labor, single-issue groups and individual donors didn’t come close.
Campaign money helped Oregon politicians do more than win election. It paid for luxury hotel rooms in Canadian chateaus, weekly visits to the local sports bar and a variety of wearable Apple accessories. It bought roses for senators’ desks, candy for Capitol offices and framed art to hang on the walls.
It paid for Salem lodging and meals that taxpayers already cover for legislative sessions, boosting lawmakers’ income.
It even bought one departing lawmaker a year of Amazon Prime….
Read the full story at oregonlive.com