The Bad Guys
No other person is more directly associated with Oregon’s initiative system than Bill Sizemore. Since the 1990s, Sizemore has been pushing a steady stream of ballot initiatives.
His history is lengthy, but his priorities are very narrow: cutting funding to education and state services, lowering taxes for the wealthy, and taking away the right of teachers, nurses, and firefighters to participate fully in the political process.
In July of 2008, the Oregon Supreme Court upheld an earlier ruling that his organizations had used forgery and fraud in order to get on the ballot. He was also found in contempt of court for violating an injunction against using a fake charity to move political funds. In December of that year, Judge Janice Wilson ordered him sent to jail until he could provide tax records for his sham charity.
Sizemore is currently under indictment for tax evasion.
He’s also prevented by court injunction from controlling any initiative petition committees, which means we may not see his name on initiatives—instead, he appears to be using his associates to recycle his same bad ideas.
The following is a partial history of Bill Sizemore’s initiative history.
Bill Sizemore’s Greatest Hits
[T]here’s simply no way the local elections office can carefully check the signatures on hundreds of thousands of ballots in a short period of time. If the signatures were traced, they probably wouldn’t catch the forgeries anyway, even if they looked carefully at each one.
Sizemore’s Oregon Taxpayers United is accused of racketeering, forgery and fraud related to political fundraising and signature gathering to get initiatives on the 2000 ballot in $2.25 million lawsuit. [Oregonian, Dec. 12, 2000]
A Multnomah County Civil Court jury confirms that Sizemore’s Oregon Taxpayers United engaged in fraud, forgery and racketeering in the signature gathering process for the 2000 ballot.
The Oregonian chronicled key testimony in the trial, including that of Sizemore’s top aide, Becky Miller, who, according to the Oregonian, left her job “after becoming increasingly concerned about a number of questionable activities.”
In her testimony, Miller said Sizemore “used various steps to hide the identity of financial contributors, helped improperly funnel tax-deductible contributions to his initiative drives, and approved changes to documents to avoid problems with an audit by the Internal Revenue Service.” [Oregonian, Sept. 13, 2002]
“Huge amounts of money were being spent by Mr. Sizemore… I felt he was funneling money into his company for his own personal use… To me, it was highly unethical” from Becky Miller’s testimony (Oregonian, Sept. 14, 2003)
Sizemore himself testified that he used company money for personal use.
A Multnomah County judge orders Sizemore’s “Education Fund” to be shut down, declaring that “Bill Sizemore ran a sham charity,” and engaged in “extensive wrongdoing” including the fact that he “illegally used large tax-deductible donations” to fund a PAC.
In the 2002 trial, Becky Miller had testified as to the real use of the fund:
When the IRS audited the foundation and asked for minutes of the foundation's board, Miller said she was worried that the minutes were replete with discussions of political matters.
"It concerned me because they did not appear to be an educational foundation type of board meeting," she said. Miller said she found some old letterhead for the foundation and retyped the minutes to "take the political things out." [Oregonian, Sept. 13, 2002]
As part of the judge’s decision, Sizemore was barred from raising and spending money through his political action committees.
"Essentially, he manipulated and exploited these organizations for his own purposes . . .," LaBarre said. "The Sizemore organizations operated well outside the realm of what is expected of law-abiding organizations." [Oregonian, May 1, 2003]
The Oregon Court of Appeals upholds the 2002 jury verdict against the OTU’s Education Foundation.
"This case is not about innocent participation in the initiative process; it is not about good-faith mistakes or errors of judgment in the course of such participation," said the majority opinion, written by Judge Rick Haselton.
"Rather, as pleaded -- and as ultimately found by the jury -- this case is about a calculated course of criminal conduct perpetrated for the express purpose of crippling, and even destroying, defendants' political opponents." [Statesman Journal, Oct. 5, 2006]
May 27, 2008: Sizemore is found in contempt of court for ignoring the 2003 injunction on political fundraising. That injunction prohibits Sizemore from putting money into any of his initiative efforts until his judgment is paid off. But Judge Janice Wilson ruled that he continued to move money around to pay for his initiatives, willfully violating the injunction. [Oregonian, May 27, 2008]
July 3, 2008: The Oregon Supreme Court unanimously upholds a 2002 Multnomah County jury decision confirming Sizemore’s engagement in forging signatures and falsifying financial records in the process of gathering signatures to qualify initiatives for the 2000 ballot. [Oregonian, July 4, 2008]
July 17, 2008: The Secretary of State’s office begins investigating evidence showing that Sizemore’s signature gatherers forged or fraudulently gathered signatures to qualify measures for the November ballot. The signatures were gathered by Democracy Direct, who also gathered signatures for Kevin Mannix’s two measures.
October 8, 2008: Sizemore admits in court that he used hundreds of thousands of dollars from his charity—American Tax Research Foundation—on his own personal expenses. Highlights include gold coins, a car, and a timeshare in Mexico. [Oregonian, October 8, 2008]
November 2, 2008: All five of Sizemore’s measures on the 2008 ballot were rejected by voters.
December 1, 2008: Sizemore is sent to jail for contempt of court.
In the conclusion to her findings, Wilson said Sizemore's violations of an earlier court injunction "are disturbing because, together with Mr. Sizemore's willingness to lie under oath, they reflect not merely contempt of court in the legal sense but contempt for the court, the judicial branch of government and its processes and judgments -- indeed for the rule of law. Mr. Sizemore is so blinded by his hatred of the unions who are plaintiffs in this case that he seems to have concluded that he is not required to follow the law." [Oregonian, December 1, 2008]
December 2, 2008: He’s released from jail, after signing tax forms for his sham charity.
November 30, 2009: Sizemore and his wife are charged with tax evasion. His wife later pleads guilty, but strikes a deal that keeps her out of prison and keeps her from having to testify against her husband.
May 18, 2010: In his run for the Republican nomination for governor, Sizemore comes in 4th, with 7.5% of the vote.
Since the 1990s, Kevin Mannix has capitalized on a “tough on crime” image in order to push ballot measures and raise his profile.
His biggest success came early on, when Oregonians passed Measure 11, which established mandatory minimum sentences for certain crimes. Oregon now has the dubious distinction of spending more on prisons than on higher education.
Mannix has also run for statewide office four times (governor twice and attorney general twice) and Congress once. He didn’t win.
He ran the Oregon Republican Party for two years beginning in 2003.
For more than a decade, questions have been raised about the methods Mannix uses to move political funds through a network of nonprofit organizations, political committees, private corporations, and his own law firm. His primary political funder has been Loren Parks.
An excerpt from the April 9, 2006 edition of the Oregonian:
* Since 1996, political committees or foundations controlled by Mannix have paid $838,000 to his law firm, other businesses or personal accounts. On multiple occasions, money moved several times --from donor, to campaign or foundation, then into one of Mannix's private enterprises --all in a single day.
* Mannix has used the state GOP in unusual ways. In one little-known arrangement, he took a cut of donations he brought to the party. And during his stint as party chairman, Mannix put both his legal secretary and his campaign's consulting firm on the party payroll until leaving to run for governor again.
* In 2002, Mannix's law firm was paid $112,000 more than previously disclosed from two now-defunct charitable foundations he created that relied on Parks for much of their income.
Mannix told The Oregonian he has always fully complied with state disclosure laws and had no intention of hiding Parks' contribution. He said the donations were separate events in which he played no guiding role.
Highly recommended reading: Common Cause Oregon’s Political History of Kevin Mannix.
In November 2010, Mannix had success with another mandatory minimum sentencing ballot measure (Measure 73), which dealt with repeat sex offenders and drunk drivers.
He was one of the biggest individual donors to the Oregon Republicans in 2010, and Common Cause Oregon has calculated that he’s the biggest individual donor to Oregon political campaigns, period.
His name is Loren Parks. He lives in Nevada, but he’s bankrolled the far right agenda in Oregon since the 1990s.
In the last decade and a half, Parks has funded:
• Mandatory minimum sentencing gimmicks from Kevin Mannix (2008’s Measure 61, 2010’s Measure 73)
• Large tax cuts for the rich, a Bill Sizemore measure (2008’s Measure 59)
• $539,980 to the right-wing FreedomWorks Foundation
• $533,900 to the right-wing Americans for Tax Reform, headed by Grover Norquist
• $527,000 to American Tax Research Foundation, the sham charity set up by Sizemore to funnel money to his own pockets
In 1999, the Attorney General sued the Parks Foundation (one of several foundations controlled by Loren Parks) for misusing about $500,000 in private charitable foundation funds for ballot measure campaigns and unsubstantiated payments and grants.
Parks and the Department of Justice settled the case with an injunction against his foundations contributing to political committees, making contributions for the purpose of political propaganda, or paying for any campaign materials or signature gathering.
The Internal Revenue Services is also going after Parks for not paying $75,000 in federal taxes, which are owed because one of his tax-exempt foundations paid for political ads.
According to the Oregonian, “The IRS alleges that $639,000 in foundation money spent on Oregon radio commercials from 1997 to 2000 should have been taxed because the advertising sought to influence public opinion on ballot measures.”
A Lay Hypnotherapist
Oh, and did we mention he’s also an amateur sex hypnotherapist who uses YouTube to brag about the women he’s slept with after hypnotizing them? See for yourself:
WARNING: Explicit Content
Parks also claims that by yelling “Disconnect!” and pressing a buzzer, he can cure you of anything from cat allergies to stage fright to multiple sclerosis. He even claims to have cured a woman’s breast cancer using hypnosis.
See more videos here: www.youtube.com/user/leparks
Sued For Sexual Harassment
Perhaps not surprising for someone who spends his time having sex with women he’s hypnotized, he’s been sued for sexual harassment twice. According to Willamette Week,
“In 1983 he was sued by a woman, described in her own court filings as "somewhat retarded," who said Parks had sex with her when she approached him seeking treatment using his hypnotherapy… Parks settled with the woman in 1986, acknowledging that they'd had a sexual relationship.”
More recently, he was sued by an employee of his medical device company. She said she felt pressured into having sex with him, and that he “was trying to brainwash her into being his sexual and travel companion.”