Bill Sizemore

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Bill Sizemore
Bill Sizemore (April 2012).jpg
Bill Sizemore (2012)
Personal details
Born (1951-06-02) June 2, 1951 (age 63)
Aberdeen, Washington
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Cindy
Children 5
Residence Redmond, Oregon
Occupation Political activist
Founder of Oregon Taxpayers United and chief petitioner for numerous ballot initiatives

Bill Sizemore (born June 2, 1951) is a political activist in Redmond, Oregon, United States.[1] Sizemore has never held elected office, but has nonetheless been a major political figure in Oregon since the 1990s. He is considered one of the main proponents of the Oregon tax revolt, a movement that seeks to reduce taxes in the state. Oregon Taxpayers United, a political action committee he founded in 1993, has advanced numerous ballot initiatives limiting taxation, and has opposed spending initiatives; however, they often propose measures which require a great deal of additional expenditures by the state.[citation needed] Sizemore made an unsuccessful run for Governor of Oregon in 1998. He also announced his intention to run for governor in 2010, but was indicted by the state on charges of tax evasion.[2]

Early life[edit]

Sizemore was born in Aberdeen, Washington on June 2, 1951. He graduated from Montesano High School in Montesano, Washington. He earned a Bachelor's degree in theology from Portland Bible College in 1976. After graduating, Sizemore taught bible history and ran a series of businesses.[3]

Ballot initiatives[edit]

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 light rail expansion.[citation needed]

Sizemore added several initiatives in 2008.

Sizemore's most notable success was passing Measure 47 in 1996. The measure rolled back property taxes to 1995 levels. 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,[4] and referred the amendments back to the voters as Measure 50, which also passed.[5]

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.[citation needed] Oregon voters approved Measure 7, but the Oregon Supreme Court later nullified it. A similar measure, 2004's Measure 37, subsequently passed, and was amended by 2007's Measure 49.

1998 gubernatorial election[edit]

Sizemore ran for Governor of Oregon as a Republican in 1998. He won his party's primary, defeating three other candidates who had little or no name recognition. During the general election, The Oregonian ran three major articles detailing Sizemore's alleged shady business practices, both in private business and in the operation of his political action committee and non-profit educational foundation.[citation needed] These included one about a "Trail of Debt" he had left behind, much of which involved outstanding loans from fellow church members; one about a fishing club to which he tried to sell memberships before obtaining the proper permission or stocking any fish; and one about an apparently falsified loan application on which he claimed not to have declared bankruptcy when, in fact, he had done so.[citation needed] Sizemore lost the November general election to incumbent Governor John Kitzhaber, a Democrat. Sizemore won 30% of the vote, to Kitzhaber's 64%.[6]

Racketeering case[edit]

Bill Sizemore (2008)

In July 2000, the Oregon Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers filed a civil racketeering lawsuit against two of Sizemore's organizations: Oregon Taxpayers United and the OTU Education Foundation. During the trial Becky Miller, Sizemore's top aide, under protection of state and federal immunity deals, testified in detail about the unethical and illegal practices of Oregon Taxpayers United. These included alleged money laundering involving both Sizemore and Americans for Tax Reform founder Grover Norquist, as well as falsification of federal tax returns and state campaign finance reports. Additional testimony reported financial deals designed to disguise or hide the sources of funding for campaigns, as well as to allow Sizemore to personally profit from the campaigns.[7][8]

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. Sizemore refused to pay the fines and attempted to avoid the liability by changing the name of his organizations to Oregon Taxpayers Association and carrying on with business as usual.[9] After a post-trial evidentiary hearing Sizemore was found personally liable for his organization's civil racketeering liability, and the judge shut down his 501(c)(3) education foundation. Nearly a million dollars were added to the fine as a result of Sizemore's resistance to earlier court orders/decisions. On appeal both sides claimed victory.[10]

Measure 42 in 2006[edit]

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, the insurance industry spent $4 million to defeat the measure.[11][12] The campaign to defeat the measure, which focused heavily on Sizemore's credibility,[11] was successful.

Arrest in 2008[edit]

On December 1, 2008, Sizemore was sent to jail after a Multnomah County judge found him in contempt of court[13] for the fourth time in his long-running legal battle with two Oregon teachers unions. Multnomah County Circuit Judge Janice R. Wilson ordered Sizemore jailed until he signed and filed federal and state tax forms that charitable organizations are required to complete to maintain their tax-exempt status. He was released on December 2, 2008.[14]

2010 gubernatorial election[edit]

On November 23, Sizemore announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for Governor of Oregon in 2010.[15]

On November 30, Sizemore and his wife were indicted by the State of Oregon on charges of tax evasion for failing to file state income tax returns for the years 2006–2008.[2] He had previously acknowledged failing to file in sworn testimony and was indicted after he failed to file during Oregon's tax amnesty ended on November 19. Sizemore called the charges politically inspired and said he had paid $50,000 in estimated taxes for 2006 and 2007. In 2011 he pled guilty to three counts of felony tax evasion for failure to file these state income-tax returns, with a plea agreement to serve 30 days jail and 3 years probation.[16]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ethan Lindsay (February 4, 2009). "A Bill Sizemore Sighting! In Redmond". OPB News. Retrieved 2009-10-23. 
  2. ^ a b "Oregon charges anti-tax activist Sizemore, wife with tax evasion". The Oregonian. November 30, 2009. 
  3. ^ "candidate profile". CBS News. October 6, 1998. Retrieved 2007-03-17. 
  4. ^ Official Results: State Measure No. 47, November 5, 1996 General Election. Oregon Secretary of State. Retrieved January 9, 2008.
  5. ^ Official Results: State Measure No. 50, May 20, 1997 Statewide Special Election. Oregon Secretary of State. Retrieved January 9, 2008.
  6. ^ Official Results: November 3, 1998 General Election, Governor. Oregon Secretary of State. Retrieved January 9, 2008.
  7. ^ "Teachers union files lawsuit against OTU". Northwest Labor Press. 2000-12-15. Retrieved 2007-03-18. 
  8. ^ McIntosh, Don (2002-09-20). "Union lawsuit whittles away at Sizemore's credibility". Northwest Labor Press. Retrieved 2007-03-18. 
  9. ^ American Federation of Teachers-Oregon v. Oregon Taxpayers United. Oregon Judicial Department, October 4, 2006. Retrieved January 9, 2008.
  10. ^ "Sizemore WON For the most part". NW Republican. 2006-10-06. Retrieved 2007-03-18. 
  11. ^ a b Lehman, Chris (2006-11-02). "Measure Opponents Focus On Bill Sizemore". Oregon Public Broadcasting. 
  12. ^ "Almost Two-thirds of Ballot Measure Cash Comes from Out of State But Campaigns Vary in Terms of Local Control" (Press release). Money in Politics Research Action Project. October 18, 2006. Retrieved 2007-02-27. 
  13. ^ Edward Walsh (December 1, 2008). "Bill Sizemore jailed for contempt of court". Oregon Live. Retrieved 2008-12-02. 
  14. ^ AP and KGW Staff (December 2, 2008). "Activist Bill Sizemore released from jail". KGW Newschannel 8 Portland. Retrieved 2009-10-17. [dead link]
  15. ^ Peter Wong (November 24, 2009). "Sizemore files for governor". Statesman Journal. Retrieved 2009-11-24. [dead link]
  16. ^ Peter Wong (Aug 5, 2011). "Sizemore pleads guilty, signs deal". Statesman Journal. Retrieved 2011-08-06. 

External links[edit]

Sizemore continues to be a featured writer on a number of Web sites, such as

Party political offices
Preceded by
Denny Smith
Republican nominee for Governor of Oregon
1998 (lost)
Succeeded by
Kevin Mannix