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State regulators dropping an inquiry into the political giving of retiring state Rep. Deborah Boone sparked changes to Oregon's campaign finance governance.

Oregon vows to wake up its campaign finance investigators

Oregon officials have announced efforts to strengthen enforcement of campaign finance laws after reporting from the state's largest newspaper found the supposed election watchdog sleeping on the job.

The Oregonian reported last week on the case of a state House member, Democrat Deborah Boone, allegedly laundering campaign contributions by accepting donations after she announced her retirement last year and then making gifts to several candidates for the Legislature at the direction of her donors. But the state's campaign finance agency, called the Elections Division, dropped its investigation this summer as soon as Boone denied she'd done anything improper.

On Tuesday, GOP Secretary of State Bev Clarno and other state officials promised to review the state's campaign finance investigation process, with plans to revamp the system.

They said the changes would include:

  • An audit of the Elections Division to review current functions and suggest areas for improvement.
  • Bringing perjury cases against people who lie to finance regulators.
  • Asking the Legislature to approve funds for two new elections investigation positions.

The Elections Division is also considering initiating its own investigations. In the past, the agency has only investigated complaints from outside parties.

The officials said the new enforcement efforts would be focused only on future infractions.

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