March 20, 2009 Volume 110 Number 6

Judge bans labor adversary Bill Sizemore from charities

Bill Sizemore — the perennial sponsor of anti-union initiatives on the Oregon ballot — now faces a court order banning him from having a role in any tax-deductible non-profit charity.

Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Janice Wilson issued the order March 6 after lawyers from a teachers union and the Oregon attorney general’s office showed that Sizemore violated an earlier court order that restricted his handling of money for non-profits.

That order resulted from a 2002 jury decision in a lawsuit filed by the Oregon Education Association (OEA) and American Federation of Teachers Oregon, later joined by the State of Oregon.

The jury found that organizations controlled by Sizemore had engaged in a pattern of forgery and fraud in campaigns to get anti-union initiatives on the 2000 ballot. Sizemore used a sham charity to avoid revealing the identity of his political donors, and to give them tax deductions they weren’t legally entitled to.

Under the 2003 court order, Sizemore was instructed to obey all campaign finance and charitable organization laws, and banned from handling money for any tax-deductible non-profit.

But Sizemore flouted that order when he set up a charitable non-profit in another state. American Tax Research Foundation (ATRF) — chartered in Nevada — had Sizemore’s mother and a close friend on the board, and did no meaningful work analyzing the fiscal impact of ballot measures. ATRF enabled Sizemore donor Loren Parks to claim a tax deduction for hundreds of thousands of dollars of contributions that were paid out to Sizemore while he worked on anti-union initiatives for the 2008 ballot.

ATRF paid for everything from a time share vacation rental to Sizemore’s daughters braces, yet Sizemore could not show the court any meaningful work he’d done for the charity.

“It was created as a sham,” Judge Wilson said. “It was run as a sham.”

Having violated the ban on handling money for charitable non-profits, Sizemore is now banned from running or being paid by any charitable non-profit, and must get Judge Wilson’s permission to fill those roles for any political-cause-oriented non-profit. He can still serve as chief petitioner on ballot measures, but will face close scrutiny if he raises or handles money for the campaigns.

The court order runs through 2013.

OEA attorney Greg Hartman said Judge Wilson’s ruling was more restrictive of Sizemore than even the unions had asked for.

“If you had to sum it up, the purpose [of the court order] is to get him out of the charitable organization business,” Hartman said.

As he has with every previous ruling, Sizemore made statements to the press blaming his legal difficulties on the judge, jury, unions, and elected leaders like the Oregon attorney general, whose job is to enforce campaign finance and charitable activities law.

“Bill’s perspective is the law doesn’t apply to him,” Hartman said. “He can keep pointing fingers, but the reality is that the evidence is overwhelming that he has simply continued to ignore the law and ignore the court’s orders, continued to do whatever he damn well pleased, and it’s finally catching up with him.”

Home | About

© Oregon Labor Press Publishing Co. Inc.