Sunday, February 19, 2006

State sues signature gathering firm (again)

The Oregon Department of Justice has decided enough is enough.

Signature gathering firm B&P Campaign Management and its owner Brian Platt are being sued by Oregon Justice in Multnomah County on behalf of the Bureau of Labor and Industries to collect unpaid wages and force the business to pay minimum wage.

Platt's firm historically gathers signatures for rightwing conservative ballot initiatives. The Oregon Justice Department has already filed filed charges in Marion County against B&P (and another signature gathering firm called Democracy Direct Inc) for failing to comply with a subpeona from the Secretary of State's Office.

Platt is an invertebrate sleazebag. But after having read this I'm wondering if this sleaze doesn't translate to all of the signature gathering firms:

The doorbell rang one night and the woman at the door said she was gathering signatures for a petition "to keep taxpayer money from going into politicians pockets and to support schools instead."

It smelled funny to me.

I asked her whom she was with and she said the City of Portland. Now I know that the City does not go door-to-door collecting signatures. Duh. I looked at her really weird and repeated, “You’re saying you are from the City of Portland?” and she flubbered some, and I asked who is behind the signature gathering. She couldn’t answer but continued to press me to sign the petition. At that point, there’s no way in hell I’m going to sign this petition, but let’s see what this is really about…. I pressed her for who is supporting the petition, she didn’t have any paperwork to show me nor could she tell me anything more, and when I explained there’s no way I’m going to sign something when I don’t know who’s behind it, what it’s about, or what group she’s representing, she looked at me and overly-clearly and loudly asked (as if I couldn’t possibly understand her), “Do you have access to a com-pew-tor? Maybe you could look it up on a comp-pew-tor.” She didn’t have a website for the First Things First committee, whose name we found together hidden somewhere in her paperwork, but thanks to her great incite I could look it up after she left.

No wonder the pro buyable elections people couldn't get enough signatures. Jeez.

Awhile back, I was emailed the following testimonial about the sneaky operating procedures of signature gatherers:

Sometime in late November I think, a young white man came to the door and asked us to sign his petition about campaign finance reform. We were interested because, well, we are interested in reforming campaign finance. But once he explained that they were looking to have a previous reform initiative overturned by getting another initiative on the ballot, we got skeptical, and decided not to sign.

A month goes by and another young man comes to our door, a young black man, and he tells me that they are looking to create a campaign finance reform that goes farther than the one that the city council passed without putting to the voters. That they want to hold city council accountable for not getting their initiative voted on by Oregonians and that this democrat organization and that democrat organization are behind the initiative that my signature would help get on the ballot. He must have looked over the progressive bumper stickers (Vote for Kerry, No on 36, etc.) on our cars because he really let me think that he wanted to see the most aggressively reformative initiative regarding campaign finance go forward. He worked on me for awhile and I gave in, yes in part to be allowed to go inside and eat dinner, but I also bought his bullshit. He was very good at presenting himself as being someone like me (liberal).

It wasn’t until about a week later that I realized that this was a big deal repeal, that I’d made a mistake and I’ll tell you, if I could find out how to get my signature removed from their petition, I would do it. Argh…now I read all these blogs about how much money from outside OR has been funneled into this kind of signature gathering and these measures backed by Freedomworks, etc. and I keep kicking myself. Again, ok, so it’s one signature, but I can see how they conned many more people into signing something out of ignorance as well.

This one also looks like a First Thing First signature gatherer.

When a person asks you to sign their petition--if it sounds like they're selling you a bill of goods--they probably are. And while you've got them, find out how they're being paid. Is it hourly? Is it minimum wage ($7.50 per hour)? Are they docked pay if they don't meet a minimum signature amount?

The initiative signature gathering frenzy for the November elections will be getting underway shortly. Affixing your signature to an initiative just to get the guy out of your face is what makes these guys effective. And its also what gets these bullshit measures on the Oregon ballot.