Campaign Finance Regulation

ORS 260.532
False publication relating to candidate or measure

  • civil action
  • damages
  • other remedies
  • limitation on action


(1)

No person shall cause to be written, printed, published, posted, communicated or circulated, any letter, circular, bill, placard, poster, photograph or other publication, or cause any advertisement to be placed in a publication, or singly or with others pay for any advertisement, with knowledge or with reckless disregard that the letter, circular, bill, placard, poster, photograph, publication or advertisement contains a false statement of material fact relating to any candidate, political committee or measure.

(2)

As used in subsection (1) of this section, “cause” does not include the broadcast of an advertisement by a radio or television station or cable television company unless the advertisement is for:

(a)

The candidacy of the owner, licensee or operator of the station or company; or

(b)

A ballot measure of which a chief petitioner is the owner, licensee or operator of the station or company.

(3)

A candidate who knows of and consents to a publication or advertisement prohibited by this section with knowledge or with reckless disregard that it contains a false statement of material fact, violates this section regardless of whether the candidate has participated directly in the publication or advertisement.

(4)

There is a rebuttable presumption that a candidate knows of and consents to any publication or advertisement prohibited by this section caused by a political committee over which the candidate exercises any direction and control.

(5)

Any candidate or political committee aggrieved by a violation of this section shall have a right of action against the person alleged to have committed the violation. The aggrieved party may file the action in the circuit court for any county in this state in which a defendant resides or can be found or, if the defendant is a nonresident of this state, in the circuit court for any county in which the publication occurred. To prevail in such an action, the plaintiff must show by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant violated subsection (1) of this section.

(6)

A plaintiff who prevails in an action provided by subsection (5) of this section may recover economic and noneconomic damages, as defined in ORS 31.710 (Noneconomic damages), or $2,500, whichever is greater. The court may award such additional equitable relief as it considers necessary or proper. The equitable relief may include, but is not limited to, a requirement that a retraction of the false statement be disseminated in the manner directed by the court. Proof of entitlement to economic and noneconomic damages must be by a preponderance of evidence. The court shall award the prevailing party reasonable attorney fees at trial and on appeal.

(7)

A political committee has standing to bring an action provided by subsection (5) of this section as plaintiff in its own name, if its purpose as evidenced by its preelection activities, solicitations and publications has been injured by the violation and if it has fully complied with the provisions of this chapter. In an action brought by a political committee as provided by subsection (5) of this section, the plaintiff may recover economic and noneconomic damages for all injury to the purpose of the committee as provided in subsection (6) of this section.

(8)

If a judgment is rendered in an action under this section against a defendant who has been nominated to public office or elected to a public office other than state Senator or state Representative, and it is established by clear and convincing evidence that the false statement was deliberately made or caused to be made by the defendant, the finder of fact shall determine whether the false statement reversed the outcome of the election. If the finder of fact finds by clear and convincing evidence that the false statement reversed the outcome of the election, the defendant shall be deprived of the nomination or election and the nomination or office shall be declared vacant.

(9)

An action under this section must be filed not later than the 30th day after the election relating to which a publication or advertisement in violation of this section was made. Proceedings on a complaint filed under this section shall have precedence over all other business on the docket. The courts shall proceed in a manner which will ensure that:

(a)

Final judgment on a complaint which relates to a primary election or nominating election is rendered before the 30th day before the general election; and

(b)

Final judgment on a complaint which relates to an election to an office is rendered before the term of that office begins.

(10)

The remedy provided by this section is the exclusive remedy for a violation of this section. [Formerly 260.380; 1973 c.744 §36; 1975 c.683 §14; 1979 c.190 §374; 1979 c.667 §2; 1981 c.897 §45; 1983 c.756 §1; 1985 c.808 §63a; 1995 c.712 §79; 1997 c.829 §1; 1999 c.941 §1; 1999 c.999 §58]

Notes of Decisions

Statements are not false as that word is used in the Corrupt Practices Act if any reasonable inference that can be drawn from the statement is either a correct inference of fact or a matter of opinion. Eustace v. Speckhart, 14 Or App 485, 514 P2d 25 (1973)

Ambiguous statement that allows erroneous inference to be drawn is not violation of Corrupt Practices Act. Committee to Retain Judge Tanzer v. Lee, 270 Or 215, 527 P2d 247 (1974)

If reasonable inference of opinion or correct fact can be drawn, statement is not false even though erroneous inference could also be drawn from it. Sumner v. Bennett, 45 Or App 275, 608 P2d 566 (1980)

Challenges to primary elections brought under this section must be dismissed unless trial and appellate courts have rendered final determination at least 30 days prior to general election. Koch v. Makinson, 52 Or App 155, 628 P2d 397 (1981)

Since this section provides unitary remedy, where no judgment was rendered depriving defendant of nomination, no severable cause of action for damages existed. Koch v. Makinson, 52 Or App 155, 628 P2d 397 (1981)

Under this section, even assuming false statement of material fact did not supply ground to set aside election. Stork v. Columbia River PUD, 58 Or App 51, 646 P2d 1372 (1982), Sup Ct review denied

Where political committee's purpose is essentially identical to candidate's purpose, committee is aggrieved party under this section and may bring action for false statement about candidate. Committee of 1000 v. Eivers, 296 Or 195, 674 P2d 1159 (1983)

Statements are not "false" within meaning of this section if any reasonable inference can be drawn from the evidence that statement is factually correct or that statement is merely an expression of opinion; statement that state senator "introduced legislation to add a new statewide property tax" is true in one sense and false in another where senator sponsored resolution that would have been initial step in establishing statewide property tax had certain sequence of events occurred. Committee of 1000 v. Eivers, 296 Or 195, 674 P2d 1159 (1983)

Trial court did not err when it imposed joint and several individual liability on officers and directors of unincorporated association organized pursuant to ORS chapter 260 as a political committee. Leslie v. Bendl, 92 Or App 519, 759 P2d 301 (1988), Sup Ct review denied

False statement is material if statement could or would significantly influence reader's decision-making process. Bryant v. Recall for Lowell's Future Committee, 286 Or App 691, 400 P3d 980 (2017)

Atty. Gen. Opinions

Court authority to determine that candidate for legislature shall be deprived of election, (1979) Vol 39, p 567

Chapter 260

Atty. Gen. Opinions

Application to committee collecting contributions to establish fund to defray elected official's expenses incurred in performing political functions of office, (1980) Vol 40, p 11; preemption by federal law of campaign financing with respect to federal candidates, (1981) Vol 41, p 420

Law Review Citations

50 OLR 299-321 (1971); 55 OLR 253-266 (1976)


Source

Last accessed
Jun. 26, 2021