BILL SIZEMORE'S ATTORNEY, Gregory Byrne, showed up to speak on his behalf at the Multnomah County Courthouse last Friday, January 30. Sizemore, on the other hand, stayed away—a plaque with his name on it, reading "Defendant," languishing in front of an empty chair in Judge Janice Wilson's court.
The last time Sizemore stood in front of Judge Wilson, on December 1, 2008, he was hauled off in handcuffs after failing to file tax documents for a Nevada charity called the American Tax Research Foundation (ATRF), created to finance election initiatives. Sizemore was released the following day, after filing the documents with the court showing he was paid $400,000 by the ATRF in the 2006-2007 tax year.
Now, attorneys from Attorney General John Kroger's office and two statewide teachers' unions, the Oregon Education Association (OEA) and Oregon's American Federation of Teachers (AFT), are pushing for more stringent sanctions against Sizemore than were first imposed by the court in 2003. Back then he was barred from engaging in certain campaign activities, after he was found to be using tax-exempt funds from Oregon Taxpayers United—a charitable nonprofit—to fund his ballot initiative work. Such use of charitable funds for political purposes is forbidden under federal law.
Elizabeth Grant, from Kroger's office, argued that Sizemore should be barred from ever again having a management role in a charitable nonprofit. Meanwhile Gregory Hartman, on behalf of the OEA and AFT unions, argued that Sizemore should have to provide proof for the numbers on his recent set of tax documents.
Sizemore's attorney, Byrne, countered that the court had no legal power to impose such sanctions against Sizemore. The hearing is set to continue in early March.
"The wheels of justice may continue to turn slowly," says Kevin Looper, executive director of Our Oregon, a nonprofit initiative watchdog group. "But what's amazing is how often Bill Sizemore finds himself underneath them."
Meanwhile, Blue Oregon blogger Carla Axtman reported last Friday that Sizemore's two biggest funders, Loren Parks and Dick Wendt, are rumored to have decided to stop cutting checks for his initiative work.