Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Sig Gatherer Admits Payment Per Hancock--KATU

Here's a story that seems to be moving quickly. KATU did what advocates have been pressing the traditional media to do since initiative season started--monitor the gatherers. It took one TV reporter about a day to make a solid case for two serious allegations: that one prominent gathering company was paying on the basis of signatures, and that the state was letting it slide:
KATU News obtained a copy of Arno Political Consulting's employee handbook which lists how much the California company pays its signature gatherers. Payment ranges from $13 for 9-12 signatures gathered per hour to $64 for 46-50 signatures per hour, clearly laying out a formula that the more signatures gathered, the more money a person makes.

Arno officials would not comment on camera, but a manager for the firm said their lawyers presented their plan to the Secretary of State about a month ago and their payment structure was given a green light.
Elections Director John Lindback, clearly feeling cornered in the video interview {wvx} , struggled to say that they had to let it go so that minimum performance standards could be set. Which sounds good at the 9-12 signature level...but what "minimum" standard is set when the company is willing to shell out $64 per hour? And where do bonuses come in anywhere? And what the hell does any of that have to do with the very obvious truth that payment is being offered on the basis of signatures delivered? See for yourself. {pdf}

By the time the story aired, the Secretary of State's office had gone from unavailable, to issuing a letter to ARNO expressing concern about the payment arrangement and worrying about the legality of it all. So kudos to those who raised the issue for the media to check out, and to KATU for presenting a clear case and getting immediate results.

Decidedly lower marks go to ARNO, who really should know better--but at least they can say that they presented the plan beforehand and got the go-ahead. Which means the axe of blame really falls on Bill Bradbury's shop. How can you look at such a plan and not see conflict with Measure 26? What kind of lame excuses are you having your people offer in defense of such shoddy oversight? What else do you people at SoS have to do during June in an off year? Good luck trying to collect on violations from the chief petitioners, noted political sleazebags Tom McIntire and Bill Sizemore. The best you can do is curb further abuse, ASAP.