Guest viewpoint: Where are One Oregon’s campaign funds coming from?

This piece reflects the views of the author, ASUO Senator Max Burns, and not those of Emerald Media Group. It has been edited by the Emerald for grammar, style and clarity. Send your columns or submissions about our content or campus issues to [email protected].

To my fellow students of the University of Oregon,

When the beginning of spring term comes around, the campus as a whole prepares for the usual shenanigans of the ASUO elections. Usually it involves local or state laws being broken. But this year, our student government elections have a new and unique twist. On March 28, I learned some very disappointing information. Zachary Rentschler, presidential candidate of the ASUO campaign One Oregon, admitted to me that the One Oregon campaign had received substantially large campaign contributions from sources who are not affiliated with the university in any way.

I had heard rumors over the last three or four weeks that the One Oregon campaign would be receiving considerable financial backing by a community member or organization outside of the campus community. I had heard estimates in the tens of thousands of dollars. I did not believe it. Some speculated that the finances would come from local businesses that have ties with students on the campaign or that were helping the campaign. Others speculated that it may come from an organization known as “Turning Point USA,” a nationwide political organization with a focus on teaching students about “fiscal responsibility, free markets and limited government.”

Regardless of the organization’s mission and whether the rumors are true, Zach’s admission that One Oregon is receiving significant amounts of financial support from outside of our campus community is upsetting to me and frankly appalling. At the core of this is a problem our entire country is currently discussing. While I will not take an official stance on my personal views of campaign spending at the local, state or federal government level in our country, I can firmly say I do not believe One Oregon should be buying this election. This all becomes extremely upsetting because of a personal statement Zach made to me after the conclusion of last year’s election.

In our meeting last April, we discussed the campaign cycle and the future of the ASUO — we both were about to become members of senate and the Departmental Finance Committee. Zach openly stated that he supported a limit to campaign spending in student government elections.

A policy like a spending limit can be found at Portland State University, Zach said, and that type of policy should be considered here at the UO. A limit helps increase access for all students interested in becoming members of student government and will ensure no campaign can buy an election. If a limit is a policy Zach supported a year ago, then why is One Oregon buying $2,866 worth of advertisements in the Emerald? And why did Zach allow for his campaign to take such large amounts of money from outside sources? I call on One Oregon to release all current financial statements and the origin of their campaign contributions for transparency. If they are attempting to buy this election cycle, then the entire student body should know. I have not heard of any other campaign receiving large financial support from outside sources like the One Oregon campaign has. If affordability is truly an issue One Oregon cares about, then it should demonstrate that by not attempting to outspend the competition.

If Zach is truly the leader our student body needs next year, then why is his message and platform not enough? Why do Zachary and One Oregon need to buy this election? What is ethical and moral about a sellout? This election should come down to principles, experience and leadership. Not a pocket book.

Thank you,

Max Burns
ASUO Senator, Seat 10, Senate Ombudsperson
University Student Senator

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