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

Monday, December 1, 2008

Bill Sizemore thrown in jail after Oregon judge finds him in contempt of court

This is oh-so satisfying news:
Veteran ballot initiative activist Bill Sizemore was handcuffed and led off to jail this morning after a Multnomah County judge found him in contempt of court for a fourth time.

The ruling was in connection with a lawsuit filed by two Oregon teachers' unions.

Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Janice R. Wilson ordered Sizemore jailed until he completes and files federal and state reporting forms that are required for charitable organizations to retain their tax exempt status.
Sizemore is Oregon's version of Tim Eyman, although he has been active longer than Eyman has. Like Eyman, Sizemore is a sponsor of right wing initiatives (or measures, as they're known in Oregon) who has stayed in business thanks to the generosity of a few wealthy conservatives, such as Nevada millionaire Loren Parks.

There are other Grover Norquist clones around the country, but Sizemore and Eyman are two of the most infamous.

Both have been careless, but Sizemore's operation has arguably been far sloppier, as proved earlier this decade in court. Wikipedia explains:
In July 2000, the Oregon Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers filed a civil racketeering lawsuit against two of Sizemore's organizations: Oregon Taxpayers United and the OTU Education Foundation. During the trial Becky Miller, Sizemore's top aide, under protection of state and federal immunity deals, testified in detail about the unethical and illegal practices of Oregon Taxpayers United. These included alleged money laundering involving both Sizemore and Americans for Tax Reform founder Grover Norquist, as well as falsification of federal tax returns and state campaign finance reports. Additional testimony reported financial deals designed to disguise or hide the sources of funding for campaigns, as well as to allow Sizemore to personally profit from the campaigns.

After three weeks of testimony and a million dollars in union legal fees, the jury found Sizemore's organizations guilty of racketeering, and the organizations were fined approximately $2.5 million. Sizemore refused to pay the fines and attempted to avoid the liability by changing the name of his organizations to Oregon Taxpayers Association and carrying on with business as usual. Without a trial, Sizemore was found personally liable for his organization's civil racketeering liability, and a judge shut down his 501(c)(3) education foundation. Nearly a million dollars were added to the fine as a result of Sizemore's resistance to earlier court orders/decisions.
Of course, Tim Eyman has been down this same road (blatantly violating our laws or attempting to circumvent them) - he just hasn't traveled as far as Sizemore has.

Eyman's taking of his donors' money for personal use was uncovered by Northwest Passage Consulting principal Christian Sinderman, who suspected that Eyman was lying about working as a volunteer while fighting Eyman's 2001 initiative, and Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter Neil Modie, whose story about Eyman's transfer of money from his political action committee to a purposeless for-profit corporation he controlled prompted the Mukilteo resident to confess that he had lied.

A subsequent PDC investigation led to a lawsuit filed by then-Attorney General Chris Gregoire, who sued Eyman for concealing the big salary that he was paying himself. Eyman eventually settled the suit, agreeing never again to serve as a treasurer for a campaign and paying a $50,000 fine.

That suit was largely the extent of Eyman's legal trouble.

Sizemore, on the other hand, has been trying for years to avoid complying with the verdict in the racketeering case filed by the teachers' unions, and so found himself booked into Multnomah County Jail as a result.

Sizemore sponsored and qualified five right wing measures for Oregon's 2008 general election ballot. Voters defeated all of them.


Post a Comment

<< Home