How corporate cash corrupted one of the greenest states in America | Polluted by Money


Most Oregonians hold the environment sacred. And we do have a long history of being one
of the greenest states in the country. But what if I were to tell you Oregon isn’t
quite the ecotopia you think think it is – that your Oregon is not as green as it appears. (rewind sound) (music) In the past few years in Salem, corporations
have successfully lobbied lawmakers to kill, weaken or stall efforts to clean up the air,
fight climate change, protect threatened animals, prepare for oil spills and restrict chemical
aerial spraying. Why? It comes down to money. Politicians want it, and corporations want favors. In 1975, Oregon let go of all limits on campaign donations. And since then contributions have skyrocketed. Except in 1996 when voters briefly revived
contribution limits which courts quickly struck down. Today, it’s one of just five states without
any restrictions. While Oregon is only the 27th largest state
by population, it’s number one per capita when it comes to corporate cash. And per lawmaker, Oregon is one of the highest-ranking states for contributions from industries with a big stake in environmental laws. They’re hoping to influence policy. And it’s working. There is an expectation that, I gave you $20k
for our campaign, when we sit down in your office we hope that your support will be there
with us. So it often takes things off the table that really need to be part of the discussion bc ppl live in fear of offending people that have very deep
pockets Lawmakers routinely do things that benefit
their corporate donors. A local construction association gave $9,500 to Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward for her 2018 race. She opposed parts of a bill that would’ve required
the association’s members to clean up equipment responsible for the majority of Portland’s
diesel pollution. That idea was dropped from the bill that ultimately passed. Timber interests gave Rep. Deborah Boone $26,000 during her career. Logging companies, including one of her contributors,
clear cut so much land around a town’s drinking water supply that the water became contaminated. Boone said she asked loggers to meet with
residents. But residents said she did nothing to actually
solve the problem. It’s really alarming because you think this
is the water your drinking and you learn that the timbers companies have been able
to dictate what is legislation is being written and voted on and it’s been very frustrating. Union Pacific Railroad gave $1,000 to Rep. John Huffman. At the time, one of the railroad’s suppliers
was facing state pressure after hundreds of residents filed complaints about a chemical
stench the supplier produced. Huffman ensured the company got off easy. All three legislators said corporate donations
had nothing to do with their positions. While these individual dollar figures might
not seem like a lot. When it’s added all together, lawmakers
took in $43 million in corporate money over a the past decade. That’s nearly half of what legislators raised. You’re being influenced by money vs. what’s the best policy. it needs to be resolved. Some of these things needs to be resolved
and they’re not going to be resolved so long as big corporations are in this battle. After watching Nike founder Phil Knight write multiple million-dollar checks to her opponent last year, Gov. Kate Brown says limits are needed. When it comes to campaign finance, we are still the wild wild west This needs to end. But first, voters would need to change Oregon’s
constitution. And getting that change on the ballot would either
take thousands of signatures from voters — or action from the very beneficiaries of all
that money — Oregon’s legislature. (music)

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