Ballot Measure Activist Indicted

In his Daily Kos diary, Pete Forsyth calls attention to the indictment of ballot measure activist Paul Jacob:

Paul Jacob, one of the chief strategists behind the recent flood of libertarian ballot measures, was just indicted on felony charges -- and unless you live in Oklahoma, you didn't read about it.

The charge? Conspiracy to defraud the state. But if you do a Google News search, you won't find any coverage outside that state -- even though Jacob's groups operate all over the country.

Jacob is one of the key players in the rapidly accelerating movement to pass cookie-cutter, far right bills by initiative and referendum all over the country. Spending caps that kill schools and other vital services, term limits for judges and state legislators, the destruction of land use regulation...and that's just the beginning.

Under the "leadership" of people like Jacob, the initiative system is corrupted, complex measures are passed with broad-brush TV ads and cute one-liners, state constitutions are amended, and state and local budgets are sent into a tailspin.

Oregonians should take note of the story. Jacobs is centrally involved with the groups US Term Limits and Americans for Limited Government, which were by far the greatest funders of Measure 41, 45, and 48 in 2006. You can read about the groups' influence at Democracy Reform Oregon, here and here. The groups also sponsored 6 ballot initiatives in other states based on Measure 37, two of which were struck down in Monana and Nevada due to illegal signature gathering.

Pete urges other Oregon residents to call attention to the indictment:

If we continue to view these ballot measures as local phenomena, relevant only during a given campaign season, we're in for a world of hurt. Here in Oregon, we're only beginning to see the devastating effects of 2004's Measure 37 -- meanwhile, these guys backed six copycat measures in other states in 2006. Folks like Paul Jacobs and Howie Rich don't let pesky little things like campaign cycles, state borders, or -- apparently -- state or federal laws stand in their way, and they're continually finding new ways to advance their libertarian agenda. Progressives in all states, especially those with citizens' initiatives, need to stand together.

So, take action! Call your paper of record, and let them know stuff like this deserves to be covered outside of Oklahoma. Head over to the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, who do a great job of tracking this stuff on a national level. Give them some money. Or, find an organization in your state that's done battle with these groups, and see what kind of volunteer help they need. Our Oregon plays great defense in my state, and Democracy Reform Oregon keeps track of the convoluted money trails. For sober analysis of specific legislation, check out the Oregon Center for Public Policy.

Who's taking care of business in your state?

Read the rest and comment at Daily Kos.


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