Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Convicted forger starts new signature gathering business in Oregon

In previous posts here we have argued that strengthening the integrity of the initiative process is imperative. Defenders of the status quo like to pretend there are no problems and reform isn't needed. They're wrong - and Loaded Orygun has an excellent example of why they're wrong.

Convicted forger Gregory Moser, who also goes by the name Ronald Phillips, has an ad on the Portland Craiglist trying to recruit paid petitioners for his new firm:
We still have a few positions open for circulators. The position(s) entails working directly with the public using the petition process to get various issues on the ballots for November 2008. You will be working outdoors so being used to Oregon weather is a plus.

Our organization is not affiliated with any political party. We simply want to make a difference and allow all Oregonians to vote on the ideas that the people of this state are proposing. This is a perfect position for a student or someone seeking a part time or second job (full time hours are available). You make your own hours and work where you want. No experience is required and training will be provided.

Requirements for applicants:

- Cheerful disposition

- A genuine belief in making change through the petitioning processes afforded to the citizens of Oregon

- Ability to communicate given issues clearly and honestly

- Be able to follow simple directions and rules

- Clean appearance

Compensation ranges from minimum wage to twenty plus dollars an hour and paychecks are given every two weeks. If this position interests you please call (503)317-0201 or email us at gmoser (at) takeinitiativeoregon (dot) us
Take Initiative Oregon LLC is an equal opportunity employer. Criminal background checks will possibly be run, but most convictions will not automatically disqualify you (we believe in second and even third chances).
Or maybe even fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh chances...

Loaded Orygun reports that Moser has previously associated himself in Oregon with Bill Sizemore cohort Tim Trickey, and allegedly carried petitions previously for the "Taxpayer Bill of Rights" spending cap, term limits, Sizemore's insurance/credit initiative, and an eminent domain ban.

(Sizemore, for those readers not familiar with Oregon politics, is the Beaver State's version of Tim Eyman, and an inspiration for Eyman).

Moser, or Phillips, has notoriously run afoul of the law many times, as the Portland Mercury observed last summer:
[He] carries numerous convictions, including theft, carrying a concealed weapon, and possession of a controlled substance

Most notably, however, Moser was convicted by the Multnomah County court on May 29, 2002, for forgery, and given 6 months in prison plus 18 months probation. Later that year, on October 23, he was convicted of felony identity theft and given 26 months probation. His name is also on file with the secretary of state’s office as a signature gatherer for initiative petitions. (His listed date of birth matches the one on the criminal record.)
Great. Convicted felons running the businesses that profit off of collecting citizens' signatures for ballot measures. What's next? To borrow Carla's analogy, it's like a child molester setting up a daycare.

Reform is desperately needed here and across the country because the process has been abused and exploited. The Oregon State Legislature is apparently looking into making it illegal for forgers and ID thieves to circulate petitions for five years after a conviction, among other ideas (some of which are also being considered by the Washington State Legislature).

Given the documented cases of forgery in Oregon and other states, it's likely that fraudulent activity is occurring somewhere in Washington, and as Secretary of State Sam Reed would say, it's harming the spirit of the initiative process. The state Legislature must act to improve transparency and minimize the incentive for fraud - no matter how loudly Tim Eyman & Co. may complain.

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