Monday, April 10, 2006

BREAKING:Our Oregon files election law complaint against Taxpayers Association of Oregon

Ballot initiative watchdog group Our Oregon has filed an election law complaint against the Taxpayer Association of Oregon for possible election law violations. From Our Oregon's press release:

Drying up the lie of the rainy day fund
Colorado-style spending limit amendment doesn’t create a rainy day fund

[Portland]-An election law violation complaint was filed today against the Taxpayer Association of Oregon for misleading voters about the impact of an initiative petition the group is circulating.

The complaint details how the Taxpayer Association is falsely describing initiative petition #6. The petition is a constitutional amendment that would limit state resources for education, public safety, health care, senior care, transportation and other services through a rigid ‘inflation plus population’ formula.

However, in campaign materials, including a website and a mail piece, the Taxpayer Association describes the petition as the “Rainy Day Amendment,” and falsely claims that the measure will create a rainy day fund for the state of Oregon.

“The Taxpayer Association of Oregon is not telling the truth about the impact of Initiative Petition #6,” says Chris Coughlin, executive director of Our Oregon, the group that filed the election law complaint. “This measure does nothing more than impose an arbitrary cap on the state budget. It gives no instructions on how to deal with that cap.”

Coughlin points out nothing about the history of the Oregon legislature leads to a rational assumption that lawmakers would respond to IP #6 by establishing a rainy day fund.

“Unfortunately, Salem lawmakers have proven that they favor tax breaks for out-of-state corporations over funding Oregon’s basic services and saving for a rainy day,” she says.

The election law complaint was filed as a violation of ORS 260.555 (1), which reads as follows:

No person attempting to obtain signatures on, or causing to be circulated, an initiative, referendum or recall petition, shall knowingly make any false statement regarding the contents, meaning or effect of the petition to any person who signs it, attempts to sign it, is requested to sign it or requests information concerning it.

Text on the Taxpayer Association’s website and on campaign literature clearly violate that statute.

“The Taxpayer Association has made false statements about the content, meaning and effect of initiative petition #6,” Coughlin says. “While we are sympathetic to the chief petitioners for getting stuck with a measure that is unpopular with voters, it is illegal and unethical to mislead them about the impact of this measure in such a blatant and irresponsible manner.”