Let me say this about that

By Gene Klare

November 7, 1997

WILLIAM LEE SIZEMORE of Oregon Taxpayers United (OTU) harbors aspirations of becoming governor of his adopted state, whose tax revenues he's slashed, whose public services and education budgets he's sliced and diced.

Sizemore, 46, a native of Washington State, has made his living the past four years as an instigator of initiative petitions leading to ballot measures on behalf of those who bankroll OTU.

WHAT KIND of a governor would Republican Sizemore make?

One answer to that can be found in a quotation from one of his financial $ugar daddie$, Grover C. Norquist of Washington, D. C. Norquist, 40, who heads the anti-union Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), pumped $600,000 into Oregon last year for the Sizemore/OTU tax-limitation Ballot Measure 47. It was aimed at further reducing tax revenues, resulting in budget cuts for schools and other public services, including police, fire, children's aid, roads, parks, libraries and DMV, to name a few. (Sizemore's flawed #47 probably would have been ruled unconstitutional by the courts but the Republican Legislature patched it up into Measure 50, approved by voters last May, which contains the pernicious requirement that tax issues must be passed by a majority of registered voters -- not a majority of those voting.)

When asked earlier this year by a reporter what he'd do if he could be president of the United States for a day, Norquist replied:

"I WOULD FIRE everybody in government and quit. Then lock the doors to the White House and Congress so no one could get back in."

That anarchistic wisecrack might be followed by Sizemore as governor, because Norquist is his philosophic hero and financial angel. Although Norquist has denied it, questions persist about whether the $600,000 he sluiced into Oregon Measure 47 came from the nearly $5 million he received from the Republican National Committee.

ONE OF THE BIG individual moneybag$ behind Norquist and his Americans for Tax Reform is said to be multimillionaire insurance mogul J. Patrick Rooney of Indianapolis, an unsuccessful Republican aspirant for governor of Indiana. The 71-year-old Rooney is chairman of Golden Rule Insurance Co., which his parents started in 1947 at Lawrenceville, Ill. Rooney and other Golden Rule interests gave more than a half-million dollars to Republicans, including House Speaker Newt Gingrich, in the 1993-94 election cycle. How much they've given since then is anyone's guess.

The Sugarman Group, a Salem political consulting firm, has said that "Rooney is a leader in the efforts to destroy the Washington State Education Association" and "is bankrolling the California initiative to prohibit union payroll deductions."

SIZEMORE HAS FILED a similar anti-union initiative in Oregon, one of the half-dozen or so anti-worker petitions he hopes to transform into 1998 ballot measures. The purpose of ballot measures to prohibit payroll deductions for union members is to choke off labor's political action programs.

In addition to obtaining money from Rooney and other wealthy reactionaries, Norquist lobbies for foreign governments, charging one a reported $10,000 a month. He also lobbies for big businesses including the Microsoft computer software giant owned by the world's richest man, Seattle's mega-billionaire Bill Gates. Norquist and Gates apparently met two decades ago as students at Harvard, one of the nation's most expensive private colleges. Reportedly, Microsoft pays Norquist $10,000 a month for his lobbying contacts among right-wing Republicans.

IF BILL SIZEMORE gets elected governor, before he follows Norquist's advice about shutting down the Statehouse, he might hit up State Treasurer Jim Hill for a personal loan from state funds without interest or a repayment schedule. Because that's what Sizemore did in his early months with Oregon Taxpayers United.

When OTU founder Frank Eisenzimmer, a Boring multimillionaire who owns Cascade Athletic Clubs, hired Sizemore to run OTU in 1993, Sizemore was a Sizeless as a taxpayer, being a tax-delinquent. He reportedly owed $24,000 in unpaid taxes. That delinquency tarnished Sizeless' credibility to pose as a spokesman for taxpayers.

In January 1994, Sizemore borrowed $12,000 from the Oregon Taxpayers United Education Foundation, which is registered with the State of Oregon as a non-profit charitable organization. That is separate from the OTU political action committee through which the Sizemore/OTU initiative petition signature-gathering and ballot measure advertising campaigns are bankrolled by Norquist and other $ugar daddie$. Sizemore got the $12,000 in amounts of $7,000 and $5,000, without interest and without a repayment schedule.

WHEN THE OREGON Department of Justice, which oversees non-profit charitable organizations, inquired last February about the $12,000 zero percent loan and pointed out that it appeared to be in violation of state law governing charitable trusts, Sizemore's attorney replied that the loan had been repaid. However, Sizemore and OTU had failed to notify the state of the repayment.

"Neither Mr. Sizemore nor any of the directors of Oregon Taxpayers United Education Foundation were aware of the requirement that the attorney general be notified of the loan," Sizemore's attorney said in a letter written last March. That curious statement was made despite the fact that the OTU had routinely notified the state of the $12,000 loan in the first place in some of its earlier financial reports.

By July the OTU attorney sent the Oregon Department of Justice photocopies of a Sizemore-signed check for $7,000 written on Oct. 18, 1994 and an Oct. 20 bank deposit slip showing that it was deposited to the OTU Education Foundation account.

According to letters from the attorney, Sizemore was given an Internal Revenue Service Form 1099 showing payment to him in 1996 of $5,000 from OTU. In other words, instead of having to repay the $5,000, Sizemore's benevolent bosses converted the amount into a payment to him -- which he'd have to report as income and pay state and federal taxes on it.

IN ONE LETTER, the Sizemore/OTU attorney explained Sizemore's need for the $12,000 this way: "As to the $12,000 advance, it was made to Mr. Sizemore to enable him to take the job of director of the Oregon Taxpayers United Education Foundation, as he had some debts that had to be cleared up before he could leave his prior occupation. The source of the funds was a single contributor who was asked to donate the funds specifically to enable the foundation to obtain Mr. Sizemore's services. No contributor was misled as to the use of any donation. It was a legitimate, good-faith transaction, as shown by the fact that the foundation has voluntarily reported it."

Curiously, Sizemore's repayment check for $7,000 was written not on a personal account but on an account of The Jeffrey Lake Company. The check showed Lake's address as the same as that of OTU. More curiously, the check was written Oct. 18, 1994 -- some five months after the Oregon Corporation Division listed The Jeffrey Lake Company as being in an inactive status due to involuntary dissolution. State records don't say what type of business the Lake Co. was engaged in, but show Bill Sizemore as its registered agent, and with the same metal building Sandy address Sizemore used for one of his toy companies.

BY OCTOBER 1994, Sizemore was quoted in the Portland Oregonian newspaper as saying that he'd paid off his delinquent taxes with money received from the sale of property. However, a check by the NW Labor Press of real estate sales records in the Portland metro area's three counties -- Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington -- failed to turn up any property sale with Sizemore's name on it.

Republican Sizemore has run before for elected office but only for the exercise. In the early 1980s, he campaigned for the Legislature and Portland City Council.

If he happens to get elected to run the state, he'd be a Governor Sizeless -- if he ran the state the same way he ran his businesses. Sizemore's United States Bankruptcy Court files are as thick as Portland's three phone books -- one White Pages and two Yellow Pages -- piled on top of each other.

His 1980s carpet broker and renovating business piled up debts of $441,048 against assets of $265,584, according to court records. His 1980s toy business had debts of $415,467 and assets of $134,683. In March 1988 a judge released him from all chargeable debts.

HIS EXCURSIONS into business also generated liens and civil lawsuits.

In correspondence between the glib Sizemore, his lawyer, and state agencies, Sizemore's excuses for late or incomplete filing of reports read like variations of "The dog ate my homework."

Here's a representative example in a Dec. 13, 1996 letter from Sizemore to the Oregon attorney general's office explaining why OTU's Education Foundation was late in filing financial reports for the year ending Sept. 30, 1995:

"...Because funds are extremely limited, we initially found an accountant who would prepare the report at no cost. That accountant then became involved in a court case delaying his work on the report. When it became clear he would not be able to get the work done, we hired another accountant. That accountant did fix the FY 1993 reports, but became ill shortly thereafter. He had agreed to complete the work by Nov. 18. Unfortunately, he was not able to do so...we turned the report over to a third accountant. He has now virtually completed the report and you should have it next week."

AS FOR THE OTU Education Foundation's "extremely limited" funds, its report for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 1996 showed total revenues of $201,828, and the OTU political action committee took in four times that amount.

As for Sizemore's personal compensation, the foundation paid him $54,277 plus $5,375 in fringe benefits, according to an OTU report filed this year with the state. Sizemore estimated his work week for the OTU foundation at 32 hours, so that figures out to $35.85 an hour. But even though Sizemore himself made nearly $36 an hour he opposed the successful 1996 ballot measure to give minimum-wage workers, including single moms and other heads of families, a modest raise that will take them to $6.50 an hour by 1999.


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