PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — With 5 weeks to go until Election Day, big money is flowing freely into campaigns for both candidates and issues.
In Oregon, Nike founder Phil Knight recently donated $2 million to Betsy Johnson’s gubernatorial campaign on top of the $2 million he donated before.
That catapulted Johnson, who is seeking to become Oregon’s governor not affiliated with any political party, to be the leading fundraiser in the governor’s race. So far, Johnson has raked in about $14 million.
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Democrat Tina Kotek and Republican Christine Drazan aren’t far behind. Kotek has raised $12 million, Drazan $11 million since the beginning of last year.
Knight also gave more than $2 million to Republican candidate Knute Buehler in his unsuccessful 2018 gubernatorial race against current Gov. Kate Brown.
“Oregon is a place where you can write a $1 million check and that’s totally legal,” said Chris Koski, a political science professor at Reed College. “There’s very little disclosure requirement as a result of that and your ability to have kind of outsized influence exists here in places that’s really rare outside of the eastern United States, particularly the southeastern United States.”
KOIN 6 News sought out comment from Knight about why he’s supporting Johnson instead of Drazan this year, but have not yet heard back.
In the most recent independent poll, Johnson is running third, behind Drazan and then Kotek.
Campaign donations are often used to buy advertising, fundraising efforts and campaign operations.
Oregon is one of only 5 states that allow unlimited contributions to candidates. Possible ballot measures that aimed to change that did not hold up in court earlier this year.