Things are looking pretty grim for anti-tax crusader Bill Sizemore, who admitted in court yesterday that he's spent more than $660,000 from a tax-exempt foundation on personal items.
As reported in The Oregonian, Sizemore acknowledged spending money from the American Tax Research Foundation, which he set up in Nevada two years ago, on such things as "a car for his wife, braces for his daughter, part of a time-share apartment in Mexico and 15 1-ounce gold pieces." (At today's prices the gold would be worth approximately $13,290.)
Two teachers' unions, the Oregon Education Association and American Federal of Teachers-Oregon, have hauled Sizemore into court on a charge that he's violated a 2003 injunction prohibiting him from using a tax-exempt foundation for political purposes.
"Gregory A. Hartman, the unions' lawyer, said that between 2006 and 2008, Sizemore wrote checks from the foundation account for $660,326, almost all of it for his own benefit," The Oregonian reported. "Sizemore also charged another $88,176 to a foundation debit card at Wells Fargo, Hartman said.
"He said money from the foundation was used to pay more than $20,000 to an auction house that handled the sale of Sizemore's house in Clackamas County after he moved to Klamath Falls, and to pay $133,255 in attorneys' fees that Sizemore owed to the unions for an earlier phase in their legal battle."
The bulk of the money for Sizemore's foundation has come from Loren Parks, a Nevada multimillionaire, and Richard Wendt, co-founder of Jeld-Wen. The unions charge that the foundation is a phony organization used as a personal money-making scheme for Sizemore.
"Mr. Sizemore is the ringmaster," Hartman said in his closing argument. "Mr. Sizemore is the one who makes it all work. He leveraged that into circumstances where he received very substantial amounts of money from ATRF."
Sizemore's lawyer, Gregory Byrne, didn't deny that his client had taken money from the foundation for personal expenses and said he didn't know whether that was illegal. But he argued that the injunction wasn't violated because the money hadn't been used for political purposes.