February 20, 2009 Volume 110 Number 4
Elections Division opens investigation of Sizemore
It appears Oregon’s newly-installed Secretary of State Kate Brown will use the power of her office to make sure election laws are complied with — even by longtime scofflaw and union foe Bill Sizemore.
On Feb. 12, the Oregon Elections Division, which Brown oversees, opened an investigation to determine whether Sizemore violated campaign finance laws last year in waging several ballot initiative campaigns. Sizemore fielded five ballot measures in November that were opposed by unions and rejected by voters. Oregon law requires political campaigns to disclose who their funders are. But a Dec. 1 judge’s ruling in a long-running teachers union lawsuit against Sizemore highlighted evidence that he moved money around in ways that may have violated the law.
Five organizations set up or controlled by Sizemore — CBS Consulting, Initiative Resource Management, American Tax Research Foundation (ATRF), the Initiative Preservation Institute, and Democracy Direct — received or spent money from Sizemore’s millionaire financial backers, Loren Parks and Richard Wendt, or from groups they control.
The investigation will seek to find out whether those five groups should have registered as political action committees and whether the official ballot measure committees run by Sizemore failed to report in-kind contributions from the groups.
ATRF, for example, received $913,000 from Loren Parks, his company, and his charitable foundation over a two-year period, much of which was paid directly or indirectly to Sizemore, who was working to get measures on the ballot.
Sizemore has been given a deadline of March 16 to provide details about the purposes and activities of the groups, and to make all financial records for the groups available to an Elections Division compliance specialist.
If Sizemore is shown to have failed to report political campaign contributions, he could face civil penalties of up to $10,000 for every transaction he failed to report.
© Oregon Labor Press Publishing Co. Inc.