Campaign Complaints

In two complaints filed with the secretary of state's office over the past week, an initiative watchdog group has alleged that chief petitioners for nine initiative campaigns have violated state rules on signature gathering.

The complaint was filed by Ellen Lowe and Tim Nesbitt, the backers of 2002's Measure 26, which outlawed payment of signature gatherers for each signature. They were joined by Ted Blaszak, the owner of signature gathering firm Democracy Resources.

Hit by the complaint are the chief petitioners of several conservative initiatives— including a cap on state spending, term limits, districting of Oregon Supreme Court justices, and a ban on eminent domain. Also included in the complaint is former city council candidate Chris Iverson's Citizens for a Safer Portland, which is circulating a citywide petition to make marijuana offenses the lowest law enforcement priority.

Nesbitt, Lowe, and Blaszak are claiming that the contractors and subcontractors used by the campaigns—particularly, the California-based Arno Political Consultants—are actively paying their "employees" based on the number of signatures they gather, in violation of Measure 26. Included as evidence in the filing is Arno's employment manual, which specifies pay rates based on the number of signatures. SCOTT MOORE

Support Our Troops?

Members of Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas are expected to protest at the July 1 memorial service for Oregon soldier Pfc. Thomas Tucker, who was beheaded in Iraq around June 16.

Phelps and Co.—well known for their anti-gay protests and "God Hates Fags" signs—have turned their attention to soldiers' funerals. Their twisted logic? They say the soldiers are fighting for a country that accepts homosexuality.

Gay rights groups and a new national biker club known as the Patriot Guard Riders—who have been mobilizing across the country to quietly shield funerals from Phelps' protests—plan to peacefully oppose the protest. AMY JENNIGES