Bill Sizemore

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Bill Sizemore
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Former candidate for
Governor of Oregon
Bill Sizemore (born June 2, 1951 in Aberdeen, WA) is a very well-known ballot initiative activist from Oregon. He is a proponent of fiscally conservative ballot measures in Oregon, with occasional forays into other ballot initiative campaigns, usually but not always exhibiting a generally conservative sensibility.

Sizemore's first initiative was Measure 8 in 1994; this measure sought to remove the guaranteed 8% rate of return in the state's PERS (Public Employee Retirement System) account. It passed but was later invalidated by a 4-3 vote of the Oregon Supreme Court.

Sizemore ran for the Republican nomination in the 2010 Oregon Gubernatorial election. He lost in the primary, coming in fourth with 7.49%.

Ballot Measures

In 1993, Sizemore founded Oregon Taxpayers United and became its Executive Director. He is noted as the author and driving force behind a number of ballot initiatives in Oregon. One of the first measures Sizemore was involved in was a referendum which stopped Portland's 3.4 billion Metropolitan Area Express light rail expansion and then a measure that reined in the extravagant PERS system. That measure was later thrown out by a divided Oregon Supreme Court.

Sizemore's most notable success was passing Ballot Measure 47 in 1996. The measure rolled back property taxes to 1995 levels and capped future increases at not more than three percent per year. Measure 47 also mandated a double majority for ballot measures increasing taxes. With Sizemore's assistance, the Oregon Legislative Assembly amended some of the provisions of Measure 47 in 1997,[3] and referred the amendments back to the voters as Ballot Measure 50, which also passed.[4]

In 2000, Sizemore drafted and placed on the ballot Measure 7, which required governments to pay just compensation to property owners when a government-imposed regulation reduced the fair market value of their property. Oregon voters approved Measure 7, but the Oregon Supreme Court later nullified it. The measure was placed back on the ballot as Measure 37 in 2004, and subsequently passed.

Measure 42 in 2006: not anti-tax

In 2006, Sizemore broke with his pattern of anti-tax measures, by filing Measure 42, a consumer-oriented bill that would have denied insurance companies the ability to take credit scores into account when setting insurance premiums. In the most expensive Oregon ballot measure campaign of 2006, nearly $3.7 million was spent—nearly entirely from out-of-state sources—to successfully defeat the measure.[5]

2008 measures

A total of eight initiatives were placed on the November 4, 2008 ballot in Oregon, and five of them were sponsored by Sizemore.[1]

Type Title Subject Description
CISS Measure 58 Education Requires english immersion for non-english speaking students
CISS Measure 59 Tax reform Makes federal income taxes fully deductible on state return
CISS Measure 60 Education "Teacher compensation must be based on classroom performance"
CISS Measure 63 Property Rights Allows minor improvements To property without building permit
CISS Measure 64 Campaign Finance Reform Prohibits using taxpayer-funded resources to collect political funds

Sizemore initially sponsored ten ballot measures for 2008. In summer 2007, he believed that eight of them would qualify for the 2008 ballot.[2],[3][4] An October report indicated confidence that voters would be able to say "yes" or "no" to six of the measures.[5]

Racketeering case

In July 2000, the Oregon Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers filed a civil racketeering lawsuit against two organizations with which Sizemore was closely associated: Oregon Taxpayers United and the OTU Education Foundation. 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.[6][7] Appeals in the case continue.

Personal liability and 2007 lawsuits

Once the unions had secured this legal victory against OTU and OTUF, they returned to court, filing a lawsuit claiming that Sizemore himself should be held personally responsible for payment of the $2.5 million court-ordered fine against OTU and OTUF. The unions won that lawsuit in 2004.[8] Sizemore appealed the judicial decision holding him personally liable and in December 2006, the Oregon Court of Appeals granted him a win on that question.[9][10]

On November 29, 2007, the Oregon Education Association and the Oregon chapter of the Americans Federation of Teachers filed a new civil lawsuit against Sizemore.[11] This lawsuit asks that Sizemore be judicially ordered to pay a $125,000 legal bill that the unions incurred earlier in the year when they sought a civil award against Sizemore, claiming that he had violated an injunction restricting the way he conducts his petition drive business.

The Oregon Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers-Oregon allege Bill Sizemore illegally funneled assets using his wife's name. The Oregon Court of Appeals ruled that Sizemore was not personally liable for the judgment but the unions have appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court. Sizemore's lawyer, Gregory Byrne, says he will ask a judge to dismiss the latest lawsuit. "As long as Bill keeps running measures that unions think are going to undermine their power, they're going to keep harassing him," Byrne said.[12]

The editor of The Albany Democrat-Herald, Hasso Herring, wrote an op-ed that said this lawsuit "smacks of revenge."[13]

In the first place, racketeering laws are aimed at the mafia and other forms of organized crime. They should not be applied to wrongdoing in a political context. In the second place, the way to punish wrongdoing in political campaigns is to see if laws were broken and if so, to prosecute the culprits in criminal court. If instead we give private interests the incentive to file civil suits to fight political opponents, then the parties with the biggest coffers and the sharpest lawyers get to determine political outcomes, and that’s not the way this country is supposed to work.

Secretary of State fines Sizemore

The Oregon Secretary of State fined Sizemore and other initiative activists after the Oregon Elections Division held that B&P Campaign Management were paying employees on a per-signature basis, in violation of the voter-approved Oregon I&R law. Bell and Platt have each been fined $10,900 for work they did on a subcontractor basis on Sizemore's initiatives.[14] Sizemore, Grace Sizemore (his mother), Abner Bobo, Carol Bobo (his long-time secretary), Ross Day, Dave Hunnicutt, and Russ Walker each were cited for failing to ensure sufficient oversight of the signature gathering company.

"It's just an act of intimidation," Sizemore said. "I think the secretary of state is sending us a message that he can fine us if he wants to." Sizemore also noted that he had fired both Bell and Platt "a long time ago."[15]

2009 tax evasion charges

In November 2009 Oregon Attorney General John Kroger announced that Bill and his wife, Cindy, were indicted for tax evasion. In the grand jury indictment issued October 27th Sizemore and his wife, Cindy Sizemore, allegedly failed to file state tax returns for the years 2006, 2007 and 2008.[16] Both Bill and Cindy were charged with three counts each of personal tax evasion. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison and a $125,000 fine. According to officials, Sizemore admitted under oath in a 2008 civil case that he hadn't filed tax returns. Sizemore did not take advantage of the tax amnesty period, which ended November 19, according to the Oregon Justice Department. The period allows taxpayers to amend their returns without penalty. In response to the charges Sizemore said, "There was no intent to evade taxes. You aren't trying to evade taxes if you pay estimated taxes."[17] Sizemore and his wife said they both plan to plead not-guilty.[18]

On December 7, 2009 a judge agreed to delay the arraignment of Sizemore and his wife in order to allow sufficient time to consider the use of a public defender. According to reports, Sizemore intends to represent himself in court. However, he said he and his wife are considering using a court-appointed public defender to represent her. The arraignment was postponed until December 29, 2009.[19]

On October 15, 2010 Cindy Sizemore pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion. She was ordered to serve 18 months of probation. Bill Sizemore, however, has pleaded not guilty to all counts.[20]

The trial was schedule for August 9, 2011.[21]

Initiative activist Bill Sizemore was sentenced to three years probation and 30 days in jail after pleading guilty to felony tax evasion charges on Thursday, August 4.[22]

In late July 2011, Judge Claudia Burton in Marion County Circuit Court denied most of Sizemore's pre-trial motions, which according to reports left Sizemore with little legal ground to argue his case. Sizemore originally faced up to five years in prison and fines of $125,000 for each count.[23]

Sizemore was sentenced to serve 30 days in Marion County Jail and 36 months of supervised probation. Additionally, Sizemore was required to complete 100 hours of community service, repay his court-appointed attorney and file tax returns for 2006, 2007 and 2008 within 120 days.[24]

Sizemore was released on August 22, 2011 after serving 18 days of a 30-day sentence for tax evasion. He was released because of good behavior and holding a job while in custody.[25][26]



See also: Oregon gubernatorial election, 2010 and Gubernatorial elections, 2010
2010 Race for Governor - Republican Primary[27]
Candidates Percentage
Alvin Alley (R) 31.76%
Clark S. Colvin (R) 0.38%
William Ames Curtwright (R) 3.98%
Green check mark.jpg Chris Dudley (R) 39.11%
Bob Forthan (R) 0.23%
Darren Kerr (R) 0.36%
John Lim (R) 15.07%
William L. Sizemore (R) 7.49%
Rex O. Watkins (R) 0.97%
(write-in) 0.64%
Total votes 314,087


Sizemore ran for Governor of Oregon as a Republican in 1998. He won his party's primary, easily defeating three other candidates who had little or no name recognition. Sizemore was strongly opposed by The Oregonian, which wrote a series of inflammatory articles detailing his business dealings and opposing his candidacy. Sizemore lost the November general election to incumbent Governor John Kitzhaber, a Democrat. Sizemore won 30% of the vote, to Kitzhaber's 64%.[6] Sizemore raised very little money for his campaign and has since claimed he never expected to win the election, but ran simply because no one else would.

See also

Suggest a link


External links

Additional reading


  1. Eight initiatives make state ballot
  5. Sizemore Promises More Ballot Action from Klamath Falls
  6. Sizemore's organizations guilty of racketeering
  7. Sizemore's Measure Machine
  8. Sizemore personally liable for fines
  9. Sizemore faced another lawsuit over initiative finances (dead link)
  10. OTU statement on lawsuit
  11. [1]
  12. Oregon teacher unions sue Sizemore again, KATU News, Nov. 30, 2007
  13. Crusade against Sizemore smacks of revenge
  14. [2]
  15. Oregon fines Sizemore, others for petition drive violations, Oregon Live, Dec. 5, 2007
  16. The Portland Tribune, "Sizemore’s indictment could slow his run for governor," November 30, 2009
  17. The Oregonian, "Oregon charges anti-tax activist Sizemore, wife with tax evasion," November 30, 2009
  18. The Register-Guard, "Sizemore indicted in tax case," December 1, 2009
  19. The Register-Guard, "Sizemore case delayed to allow time to consider public defender," December 8, 2009
  20. The Statesman Journal, "Sizemore's legal motions denied," July 26, 2011
  21. Associated Press, "Judge denies motions in Sizemore case," July 27, 2011
  22. The Portland Tribune, "Sizemore goes to jail for not paying taxes," August 4, 2011
  23. Statesman Journal, "Sizemore pleads guilty, signs deal," August 5, 2011
  24. The Oregonian, "Bill Sizemore pleads guilty to tax evasion charges, goes directly to jail," August 4, 2011
  25. The Oregonian, "Initiative activist Bill Sizemore gets out of jail early despite judgment barring 'early release'," August 23, 2011
  26. The Statesman Journal, "Sizemore released after 18 days," August 23, 2011
  27. Oregon Secretary of State, "May 18, 2010 Primary Election Abstract of Votes," accessed July 19, 2010