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July 14, 2024

Group presses Oregon secretary of state to block Trump from ballot

Donald Trump 2017 Inaugural
Donald Trump delivers his 2017 inaugural address. C-SPAN screen shot
November 24, 2023

The national effort includes court cases in Colorado, Michigan and Minnesota

By Julia Shumway, Oregon Capital Chronicle

A group trying to block former President Donald Trump from appearing on the ballot in all 50 states ramped up pressure on Oregon Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade this week. 

Free Speech for People first contacted Griffin-Valade in July, less than two weeks into her term. Its latest letter asks Griffin-Valade to respond and indicate whether she’ll issue a temporary rule declaring Trump ineligible to appear on ballots in Oregon by Dec. 1. 

“Your oath to support the Constitution, and the weighty responsibility entrusted to you by Oregon voters as Secretary of State, impel you to exclude Mr. Trump’s name from the list of ‘qualified candidates’ in the presidential primary,” the group wrote. 

A spokeswoman for Griffin-Valade said she received the request and is reviewing it, and has nothing more to share at this time. 

The advocacy group’s campaign rests on a rarely-used section of the 14th Amendment intended to prevent former Confederates from holding federal office after the Civil War. The amendment prohibits anyone who previously took an oath to support the U.S. Constitution and then “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof” from holding any federal office.

That applies to Trump because he swore an oath to uphold the Constitution as president and then engaged in insurrection by inciting the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, the group argues. 

The letter noted that Oregon law directs the secretary of state to leave disqualified candidates off the ballot. The Oregon Supreme Court reaffirmed that role last year when former Secretary of State Shemia Fagan blocked New York Times columnist Nick Kristof from running for governor because he hadn’t met a constitutional requirement to live in the state for three years.

More recently, Griffin-Valade issued a rule blocking Republican state senators who missed more than 10 days of floor sessions without excuses from appearing on the ballot. Four senators filed to run for reelection and were disqualified, and state and federal lawsuits over their disqualification are ongoing. 

Whether Trump appears on the ballot in Oregon likely won’t make much difference. The state’s presidential primary in May is among the last in the nation, and parties typically know their nominees well before Oregon voters cast their ballots.

Efforts to bar Trump from the ballot have seen legal challenges in Colorado, Michigan and Minnesota. Most recently, a Colorado judge ruled that Trump should be placed on the ballot, but conceded that he engaged in insurrection.

Oregon attorneys Jason Kafoury and Daniel Meek, who have worked on campaign finance reform initiatives in recent years, joined Free Speech for the People in its latest letter to Griffin-Valade and indicated a court battle is likely in Oregon. 

Julia Shumway has reported on government and politics in Iowa and Nebraska, spent time at the Bend Bulletin and most recently was a legislative reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times in Phoenix, Arizona.

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Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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