This morning, the O's David Sarasohn takes on the right-wing initiative racket - and reviews the cast of characters:
This month we've discovered, yet again, that the historic Oregon initiative system is now the nearly exclusive playground of an octogenarian Las Vegas millionaire and part-time amateur sexual therapist, a legally determined racketeer and a politician whose electoral losses are now at five and counting.
Direct democracy at its best.
Loren Parks, the Las Vegas sexual hypnotist, is the sugar-daddy to all these right-wing clowns:
Earlier this month, the secretary of state's office estimated that 10 petition measures had a reasonable chance of making it onto November's ballot. (Thursday, two were ruled short on signatures.) On nine of the 10, the lead petitioners included Bill Sizemore, Kevin Mannix or Russ Walker of the anti-tax group Freedomworks; on all of those nine, most of the expenses were covered by Loren Parks, who as of last September had spent $1.1 million on signature collecting in this cycle.
That's on top of more than $5 million he'd spent in Oregon politics over previous years, a flow not slowed at all by his leaving Oregon for Las Vegas in 2003. In 2006, Parks spent $1.6 million on Oregon politics, including more than $940,000 for Mannix's unsuccessful run for the GOP nomination for governor.
What's this stuff about sexual hypnotism? Yeah, it's true:
Everyone needs a hobby. Parks has two, the other being the Psychological Research Foundation Inc. (www.psychresearch.com; NOTE: The author of this Web page is not a state or medically licensed professional), which offers sexual hypnotism by telephone.
The details are not describable here, but nine initiative measures on this November's ballot aren't the only presents Loren Parks is prepared to give you.
And then there's five-time loser Kevin Mannix:
Mannix, a former legislator steadily active in the initiative process, this spring lost his fifth consecutive bid for public office, despite years of loyal and expensive support by Parks. Mannix has now lost two races for attorney general, two contests for governor and this year a race for a GOP nomination for Congress, to a candidate treated by the whole state Republican organization as toxic.
And we can't forget Bill Sizemore:
Still, Parks is doing better than Bill Sizemore, king of the Oregon initiative system, petitioner on five measures bound for the November ballot, who can now be described with legal precision as a racketeer. Earlier this month, the Oregon Supreme Court unanimously upheld lower court verdicts that organizations controlled by Sizemore violated anti-racketeering laws by forging signatures and filing false financial reports to qualify ballot measures in 2000, and that he owes the Oregon Education Association $2.5 million in damages.
Here's what I want to know. Does every state have their own cast of right-wing nutballs? Or are we just extra-lucky here in Oregon?