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Opinion » Editorial

Oregon's Chutzpah Champ

The Source Weekly gives Bill Sizemore THE BOOT.


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Up to now, the ultimate example of "chutzpah" has been the guy who murders his parents, then begs the court for mercy on the grounds that he's an orphan. But Bill Sizemore has topped it: "Chutzpah" is a guy who gets convicted of racketeering, spends time in jail for contempt, gets indicted for tax evasion ... and runs for governor.

Sizemore, who now resides in Redmond, for about a decade made a living - and a damn good one - by pushing anti-tax and anti-union ballot measures. He was bankrolled largely by a pair of right-wing sugar daddies, Jeld-Wen founder Dick Wendt and eccentric multimillionaire Loren Parks of Nevada.

To carry out his operations Sizemore set up several non-profit front organizations. An investigation by The Oregonian last year found that Sizemore had used one of them, the American Tax Research Foundation, "like a personal ATM" to pay for, among other things, private school tuition for his son and a new car for his wife.

The Sizemore Gravy Train started coming off the rails in 2000 when two Oregon teachers' unions filed civil racketeering charges against two of his organizations. The upshot was that the unions won a $2.5 million judgment and a judge issued an order essentially barring Sizemore from further political fundraising.

The latest chapter in the shabby Sizemore saga came last Monday, when state Attorney General John Kroger announced the indictments of Sizemore and his wife on tax evasion charges for failing to file state tax returns for the last three years. The offense is a felony that carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $125,000 fine.

Sizemore responded to the charges, predictably, by claiming he's the victim of a conspiracy by eeee-vil socialist "union thugs" and their tools in Salem. "This is all part of the collaboration between the AG and unions to get me," he told Willamette Week.

Sizemore also said he and his wife filed estimated tax payments in 2006 and 2007, which proves they had no intent to evade taxes. Sorry, Bill, but making estimated payments doesn't relieve you of the obligation to file a tax return.

In the midst of all this, unbelievably, Sizemore announced last week that he intends to enter the Republican primary for governor. Acknowledging that he has a few legal problems, he vowed to campaign from a jail cell if he has to.

We have no idea what Sizemore is trying to pull. Maybe, as some speculate, he's hoping to play the martyr card and wring the last few bucks out of his supporters. (Yes, he still has some.) Or maybe, as Oregon GOP Chairman Bob Tiernan suggested, he simply "went off the deep end a few years ago."

We really don't care what Sizemore's aim is. We just want him to go away. He long ago stopped being amusing and has become an embarrassment. He can go away mad or go away sad, as long as he just goes away.

To reinforce the hint, here's THE BOOT.

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