Oregon group alleges petitions were forged
A union-funded watchdog group has asked the state to investigate whether signatures on initiative petitions circulated by conservative activists...
SALEM, Ore. — A union-funded watchdog group has asked the state to investigate whether signatures on initiative petitions circulated by conservative activists were forged.
Meanwhile, the conservative activists have gone to federal court to try to force the state to ease or overturn new restrictions.
The complaint filed by the watchdog group Our Oregon alleges that at least four signatures, including of Ellen Clay, of Keizer, were forged on current election-cycle petitions.
"I think my signature was simply copied over from another sheet," Clay told the Statesman Journal.
Our Oregon spokesman Scott Moore told the Salem newspaper that the watchdog group wants a review by the Elections Division, which can refer it to the Department of Justice for a full investigation and prosecution.
Voters approved a ban in 2002 on paying petition circulators based on each signature obtained. The ban was upheld in state and federal courts.
The 2007 Legislature further tightened restrictions in a law that took effect Jan. 1.
Conservative activists lost their Circuit Court challenge of the restrictions, but they hope to fare better in a similar suit in U.S. District Court.
The law requires paid petition circulators to register in advance, obtain photo identification, submit a signature sample and undergo training.
It also requires their employers to keep more extensive employment records, which the state can check.
Voters, not circulators, must print names and submit other information on petition sheets.
Clay said she signed some petitions offered by the circulator, but not an initiative sponsored by Bill Sizemore to link teacher pay and seniority rights to classroom performance.
A jury awarded the state's two largest teachers unions $2.5 million in 2002 after they filed an anti-racketeering lawsuit against Sizemore, claiming he used forgery and fraud to qualify two anti-union ballot measures in 2000.
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