Love him or hate him - and it seems that nobody's in between - you have to agree that Bill Sizemore has been a major mover and shaker in Oregon politics for the past 15 years. The anti-tax, anti-government, anti-union crusader hasn't written his autobiography yet, but if you want a comprehensive low-down on what he's been up to since 1993, Democracy Reform Oregon has it.
The campaign spending watchdog group has come out with a 98-page tome entitled "A Political History of Bill Sizemore: Profit vs. Policy Motives, Supporters and Opponents, Fair Fights or Fraudulent Tactics." It chronologically examines the political battles Sizemore has fought, including the 13 ballot initiatives he introduced between 1994 and 2006 and his losing 1998 gubernatorial campaign, including details about his financing. It also describes the 2002 conviction of Sizemore's organization, Oregon Taxpayers United, on charges of racketeering, forgery, money laundering and fraud.
"Bill Sizemore's contribution to Oregon politics is disturbing," the executive summary states. "His abuse of the initiative process for personal gain and political advantage, combined with illegal disregard for complying with tax and campaign rules, has damaged a 106-year-old democratic institution."
Although Sizemore likes to depict himself as a grassroots activist, the report finds that his efforts have been mostly bankrolled by a handful of rich conservatives and Grover Norquist's group Americans for Tax Reform.
One individual - Loren Parks - has chipped in nearly $1.7 million of the $4.3 million Sizemore collected between 1994 and 2006, while the Norquist group has contributed $697,000. Other major Sizemore benefactors have included the late developer Robert Randall ($272,500), Columbia Helicopters owner Wes LeMatta ($242,500), Aaron Jones and his Seneca Timber Co. ($150,000) and Klamath Falls multi-millionaire Richard Wendt, owner of Jeld-Wen Corp. ($110,988).
"Public scandals, his racketeering conviction, court injunctions and more stringent public oversight would suggest that Bill Sizemore is no longer the politial force he once was," the report says. "However, Sizemore, while not Teflon-coated, appears to be resilient" - as demonstrated by the fact that he's trying to qualify as many as six measures for the 2008 ballot.
The whole report is available in PDF format on Democracy Reform Oregon's website. And if you don't want to slog through all 98 pages, there's also a downloadable summary.