Both men strongly oppose Measure 26, the ballot initiative approved by Oregon voters in 2002 that mandates signature gatherers may not be paid by the signature. The two combined forces to try to get that worthy measure (WW endorsed it) overturned as unconstitutional but lost their bid last week with the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Now Sizemore and Hunnicutt may face bigger problems thanks to the measure and a recent local court decision against a company that gathered signatures for initiatives in which both men were listed as chief petitioners.
Sizemore and Hunnicutt told WW they hired a company called Democracy Direct to collect signatures for four initiatives, including ones that would reduce state income taxes and would limit government condemnation of private property. Company president Timothy Trickey, in turn, subcontracted the work to Brian Platt, who runs B&P Campaign Management.
The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries then accused Platt's company of violating state wage laws by refusing to give three employees their promised hourly pay when they didn't gather enough signatures (see "A Signature Issue," WW, Feb. 8, 2006). And on June 27, the Multnomah County Circuit Court ordered B&P to pay damages exceeding $15,000, plus fees of nearly $7,000.
And that's where Hunnicutt and Sizemore could be in trouble. The authors of Measure 26 made sure that chief petitioners bear ultimate financial responsibility for the actions of subcontractors like Platt.
Hunnicutt, leader of the property-rights group Oregonians in Action, insists his "contract with Democracy Direct states that they comply with election laws," but adds, "if the chief petitioner were accountable nobody would ever be chief petitioner." Meanwhile, Sizemore, a conservative initiatives guru, says, "I hope they come after us with big fines so we can get it thrown out by a federal judge."
He may get his wish.