Cryin' Wolfe

Carla Hanson

Who IS that guy with the ads on KPOJ that's raising a stinkfest all over Oregon Secretary of State SOS Kate Brown? It's Robert (Bob) Wolfe, the chief petitioner behind the unsuccessful Initiative Petition 24, the Constitutional Initiative that would have decriminalized pot. Mr. Wolfe feels particularly put upon by SOS Brown since the SOS Office invalidated around 1/2 of the petition's signatures, and left it well short of the required number to make the November ballot.

Wolfe claims that the SOS unfairly tossed thousands of signatures, "undermining democratic process." What Wolfe fails to mention in his media short screeds is that not only were there thousands of duplicate signatures and signatures of inactive and non-voters, but his professional signature gathering team was busted for forging signatures.

"Lynne Terry, a reporter for The Oregonian, received a letter in the mail saying that the Oregon secretary of state (sic) had invalidated her signature in support of a measure that would legalize marijuana for adults. The letter asked her to sign a declaration stating that she had signed the petition and wanted her signature counted. Enclosed with the letter and declaration was a copy of the petition, including her name and address.

"There was just one problem: She never signed the petition. Reporters, as a rule, are not allowed to participate in political activity."

http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2012/07/forged_signatures_were_among_t.html

In the SOS June sampling, only 54.4% of the IP 24 signatures returned were found to be valid. In investigating the alleged forgeries, the SOS also determined that petitioners were being paid by the signature, rather than by wage. Because pay-by-signature has historically been found to promote forgery, and because it's a practice more often used by corporate interests than regular Joe-citizen petitioners, Oregonians passed a Constitutional Amendment in 2002 outlawing the practice.

The SOS levied a significant fine against Wolfe based on the signed statements from 2 petitioners who described being paid signature "bounties" for signatures appearing on 26 signature sheets. The fine levied was $65k, or $2500 per sheet. The Foundation for Constitutional Protection, a Texas non-profit which also pumped money into Measure 74 in 2010, financed $435,000 for the IP 24 petition effort, so the fine won't be sending Wolfe off to the poor house any time soon.

To be fair, Wolfe reported the to the SOS the names of 5 petitioners who were suspected of forgery. While this could potentially be grounds for reduction of the fine, those forged signature still remain forged.

So, to summarize, Bob Wolfe is busting Kate Browns chop's because she is enforcing the Constitutional mandate that the citizens of Oregon passed and because she is tossing duplicate, non-voter and forged signatures.

How terribly undemocratic!

Stay tuned for more... What do Ralph Nader, the Progressive Party and Oregon arch conservative Ross Day have in common? (Bob Wolfe)

Comments

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      Story needs a by-line.

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      Carla, assuming you are the author, thank you for clearing up the misdirection offered by Mr. Wolfe and his supporters. Yours is a voice I can trust.

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      Carla has the facts wrong. Wolfe has not been charged with anything regarding the forged signatures. He is the person who detected the forgeries and turned the forgers in to the Secretary of State ("SoS")for prosecution (which, to my knowledge, has not happened). Wolfe is accused only of paying 2 petitioners per signature on a couple dozen sheets (out of over 30,000 sheets submitted), and he is disputing those charges. He has not been convicted of anything. Apparently concepts of due process do not extend to persons accused by Democratic officeholders.

      Carla says that Wolfe submitted "thousands of duplicate signatures and signatures of inactive and non-voters." That is the conclusion of the SoS, which Wolfe disputes. It is true, however, that he submitted thousands of signatures of "inactive" registered voters. Those signatures are routinely counted in other states but not in Oregon, even though there is no law here prohibiting them.

      This explains part of why signature validity rates are so much higher in other states, including Washington. This year the SoS determined that many Oregon statewide petitions this year had validity rates in the low 50 percents, while in Washington validity rates are typically in the 80-90 percent range. One big reason is that Washington counts the signatures of registered voters who have been deemed "inactive," because the county clerk has received some evidence that the person has moved. The SoS of Oregon does not count those signatures, even though that voter remains registered. I thought only about 10% of all Oregon registered voters are in the "inactive" category, but an Oregonian article recently mentioned 460,000 Oregon registered voters being on the "inactive" list. That would be more than 20% of all registered voters.

      Nor does Washington discard entire signature sheets because the circulator started to write the wrong date on her own signature and then corrected it. Washington does not require circulators to sign or date petition sheets at all. Nor does it prohibit "stray marks" on signatures sheets or throw out entire sheets if the printing of 2 signers' addresses looks similar. Nor does Washington have the dozens of other picayune requirements that have been imposed by the Oregon SoS with the sole consequence of disqualifying valid voter signatures.

      2000-02 saw 13 progressive measures on the Oregon ballot, including guaranteed school funding, single-payer health care, the nation's highest minimum wage, and prohibiting utilities from charging ratepayers for profits on abandoned plants. 2008-10, with Kate Brown’s "directives" in place, saw only ONE progressive measure on the Oregon ballot (medical marijuana dispensaries). Her practices have made initiatives too expensive for grass-roots efforts, leaving them available only to corporations (like for casinos), the wealthy (for estate tax and capital gains tax reductions), and large unions. And the occasional marijuana measure.

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        Nope, Dan, I don't have the facts wrong, and if you would have read through my whole piece before going into hyper-drive, you would have seen that I did give credit to Wolfe for reporting the transgressions.

        Ultimately, however, Wolfe is responsible his operation, or technically, under ORS, his PAC treasurer is.

        The examination of signatures for Wolfe's ballot measure were no different than the parameters that certified any of the measures we WILL see on the ballot, including M. 80, the OCTA pot legalization measure.

        You and Wolfe have complaints regarding the system, not Kate Brown. But Wolfe, and you as his surrogate, have chosen to politicize and personalize this. This is particularly telling in light of your Independent Party "nomination" of another Kate Brown opponent.

        P/progressives who insist on throwing stones at Democrats only serve to help usher in GOP office holders, and THOSE are the folks that support voter suppression, limited ballot access and a whole host of other regressive policies specific to voting rights.

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          Seems to me if a registered voter signs a petition, they really aren't inactive....are they?

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            "Inactive" voters are technically defined as those who have not voted in at least 2 federal elections.

            While I would be more than willing to enter a substantial discussion of this - after Nov. 6 - it's important to also recognize that in Oregon's vote-by-mail system, there is a considerable cost involved, that is wasted, when a mailed ballot is not returned - for whatever reason.

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              Quickly...signing a petition and voting are separate acts. The question is whether inactive voters who have to reaffirm their registration before they can vote (which is by statute, and largely to make sure they haven't changed district, died of moved out of state) should also be barred from signing a petition.

              There is no statute that says so and the logic for making inactive voters reaffirm their registration before they vote doesn't apply to people who sign statewide petitions. (unless you think signature gatherers are soliciting people in other states.)

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          "You and Wolfe have complaints regarding the system, not Kate Brown." So what keeps the Democratic Party from proposing to change this in the "system"?

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          I'm supporting Kate given the alternative but I think Dan M's complaints are with how she is exercising discretion -- that seems pretty clear in the "inactive" voter case, less so on the corrected date matter.

          I am not quite sure if it applies here, but it is also true that Democrats who insist on acting poorly so as to divide progressives from them and require criticism (like President Obama on drones, assassinations, civil liberties and war powers) only serve to help usher in GOP office holders.

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    Thanks for the post. The train wreck that is the Naderite agenda and methods needs to be exposed. We need only remember election 2000 to be clear on this. Ralph Nader brought us George W. Bush and was proud of it!

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      Howdy, Karl:

      I'm not involved with Kevin Mannix.

      I'm not involved with the Koch Brothers (Wow!).

      None of my attorney's ran my signature gathering campaign -- I did that myself.

      The FCP is not run by a lobbyist The FCP hired an attorney at one point in Austin, who is a lobbyist.

      The goal of the Foundation for Constitutional Protection (FCP) is marijuana legalization. Do you now claim that the Koch brothers are helping with that? You must be smoking something stronger than grass. Even if FCP some time in the past used the same lobbying firm in Austin as the Koch brothers, that does not mean that the Koch brothers support FCP. For example, Kate Brown's campaign consultant/manager is Mark Wiener and his firm Winning Mark. They also are the consultant/campaign manager for the casino measures on the Oregon ballot. According to you, that means that the casino developers are in bed with Kate Brown, because they use the services of the same firm. Is that what you're trying to get at?

      Bob Wolfe Secretary of State Candidate Oregon Progressive Party www.wolfefororegon.org

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        Robert, I noticed that in the Sept 20 filing you reported raised and spending Zero. We want to know: Who's paying for those radio ads? Thanks -

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      Do we know for a fact that he isn't just a shill for the right wing Koch Brother crowd... that the entire initiative was proposed and executed in a flawed way so it would be tossed specifically to give "progressive" Bob Wolfe have a reason to launch these attacks? Sure it sounds convoluted, but the initiative itself was funded by the right wing group that is now funding his campaign... doesn't that seem a little suspicious?

      Also, if Wolfe is successful and the Democratic/Liberal/Progressive vote is split and Knute gets in he's already said he would "clean up" (read "restrict") voting in Oregon. Not only that, it sets him up to run for Gov. in the next election after he has done so. AND, God forbid, anything should happen to Kitz before the election, he gets to take over as Gov. IMMEDIATELY.

      That all sounds like exactly the things the Koch Bros. and other right wingers invest their money in (usually secretly, but always discreetly).

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    Why does Ralph Nader hate Oregon?

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      September 28, 2004

      How Democrats Kicked Nader Off the Oregon Ballot by DAN MEEK

      Unedited article: http://www.counterpunch.org/2004/09/28/how-democrats-kicked-nader-off-the-oregon-ballot/

      In an editorial the Oregonian celebrated the decision by Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, upheld by the Oregon Supreme Court, to keep Ralph Nader off the Oregon ballot, citing grave concerns for "fraud" and "circulator irregularities."

      But the Oregonian has never described the absurd excuses Bradbury actually used to disqualify Nader. In fact, Nader submitted far more county-verified voter signatures than the 15,306 needed on sheets in full compliance with all statutes and all written rules.

      After conducting a trial, the Presiding Judge of the Marion County Circuit Court concluded that Bradbury had booted Nader by using "unwritten rules" that were "not supported by the written administrative rules as set forth in the [State Candidate's] Manual." He also found the "unwritten rules" to be "inconsistent with ORS 247.005, as well as with the prior policy of the Elections Division" and "not applied either uniformly or consistently in actual practice."

      These "unwritten rules" disqualified over 700 valid voter signatures, all of which had already been verified by county elections officers, who themselves signed and dated every sheet with an affidavit of authenticity (often with a county seal as well). This subtraction left Nader 218 short of the 15,306 needed.

      The Oregon Supreme Court concluded that Bradbury had the legal authority to use his "unwritten rules," a conclusion that now requires all petitioners to comply with any requirements he dreams up but fails to publish, before or even after the signatures have been collected and filed.

      Testimony at trial showed that the county elections officers themselves placed numbers the sheets missing them and that counting these county-numbered sheets would qualify Nader for the ballot. Bradbury offered no reason for questioning the county-numbered sheets and no instance of ever rejecting them in the past. The counties had no problem with accepting and verifying 2,354 voter signatures on the non-numbered sheets. Each sheet was then signed and dated by a county official. Only the original sheets, with the original county official signatures (and often official seals as well) were filed with Bradbury. And he threw them all away, thus leaving Nader 218 short.

      There are also an unknown number of other signatures discarded by county officials, after Bradbury ordered them not to accept circulator signatures that were not "legible" or that had "dating errors." Despite repeated requests, Bradbury has never identified how many hundreds or thousands of otherwise valid voter signatures were tossed away by the counties, at his unpublished order.

      While the Oregonian would prefer that Nader be off the ballot, it should at least inform the public of the actual tactics Bradbury used to accomplish this goal.

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      I do not believe Mr. Nader hates Oregon. He does seem to have a difference with certain individuals and their tactics.

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    Lawsuit to Continue

    Marion County Circuit Court Judge Mary M. James declined this week to approve a preliminary injunction motion to put IP-24 on the November Ballot. Nevertheless, the lawsuit against Secretary of State Kate Brown challenging her signature validity processes will continue, says Robert Wolfe, Chief Petitioner for IP-24 and Progressive Party Candidate for Secretary of State.

    “I don’t think the Judge made the right call on the law or the facts,” says Wolfe. “IP-24 will not be on the ballot this year, but the fight against Kate Brown’s unreasonable and anti-voter policies will move forward.”

    IP-24 failed to qualify for the ballot when the Secretary of State determined that nearly half of the 175,000 signatures submitted for the measure were invalid. Validity was determined using new procedures imposed by Brown without public process or legislative oversight in 2010. Using the new procedures, most ballot initiatives this election season suffered historically low validity rates, creating tremendous extra expense and effort for all initiative campaigns.

    Wolfe filed suit to challenge the new procedures and then asked for a preliminary injunction against the Secretary of State's decision to excludeIP-24 from the ballot. The Court declined to put the measure on the ballot, but the issues remain alive for resolution before the next cycle of initiative filings in 2014

    Just this week the Arizona Supreme Court ruled in favor of initiative petitioners in a very similar case, rejecting two of what are Secretary Brown's main techniques for disenfranchising voters. The Court refused to allow voter signatures to be discarded merely because petition circulators did not complete clerical parts of the signature sheets. That Court also ruled that the government could not exclude signatures that allegedly did not match the voter registration records, when those voters submitted affidavits indicating that their signatures on the petition were indeed their signatures. Secretary Brown has used that excuse to discard literally over 100,000 valid Oregon voter signatures on initiative petitions.

    See http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/2012/09/06/20120906arizona-top-two-primary-can-ballot-states-high-court-rules.html and http://azcapitoltimes.com/news/2012/08/31/aztop-two-primary-initiative-should-be-on-november-ballot-court-rules.

    Kate Brown has imposed unreasonable and arcane signature validity standards that place the initiative system further out of reach of citizens attempting to use this important tool of Democracy,” says Wolfe. “By hindering citizen access to the ballot this way, Kate Brown has disenfranchised tens of thousands of voters on just this one petition. Her actions may well be unconstitutional, and through my lawsuit, I intend to correct this injustice.”

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      I'm sorry but claiming that the initiative process is out of the reach of citizens in reference to a ballot measure funded by an out-of-state group to the tune of $435,000 is a lot of crap. The reason that the initiative process needs reform is due to exactly cases like this. If Wolfe really believes in what he claims he should have gotten citizen volunteers not been the front man for a non-Oregon group and then hiring folks who won't follow the law. The initiative process was created so citizens could challenge the legislature, not well funded out of state groups.

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    I am a big fan of Blue Oregon and have previously enthusiastically supported both Kate Brown and Bill Bradbury in past elections. However, I am extremely dismayed by their attacks upon the Progressive candidate for Secretary of State. It is unfair to state that Bob Wolfe has violated any election laws at this point. It is fair to state that he has been "accused" or that he "allegedly" violated the law and Mr. Bradbury and Ms. Brown should certainly know better.

    It is also unfair to prevent Mr. Wolfe from responding to these allegations with his own post on Blue Oregon. Allowing him to respond in the "Comments" section simply isn't sufficient. If Blue Oregon wishes to keep to its mission as "the water cooler around which Oregon progressives will gather" with "a wide range of voices - from urban sophisticates to gun-truck-and-dog Democrats; from radical vegetarian leftists to cranky government skeptics," then the Progressive candidate, with progressive positions, should be allowed to respond to allegations levied by high-profile Democrats.

    If progressives like Robert Wolfe aren't allowed to respond to attacks from establishment Democrats, then Blue Oregon isn't really the water cooler for progressives, it will simply be a propaganda arm for the Democratic Party. While criticizing Mr. Wolfe for taking votes away from Kate Brown is a legitimate position, allowing attacks on him and his character, without allowing him the opportunity to respond with a post of his own, is not.

    Please allow the Progressive Party's candidate for Secretary of State to respond to these attacks and to lay out his agenda for running for office. Keep Blue Oregon the water cooler for progressives, even when those progressive voices gain the ire of establishment Democrats.

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    This is a giant load of chicken-crap. Nader is a red herring. Bob is not the only third party candidate, and don't you all have an actual Republican to run against? The simple fact is, Kate Brown has kicked the Hornet's nest of marijuana politics and is likely to get stung pretty hard. Every third party candidate running against her is from the cannabis lobby, Bob just has the deepest pockets. Basically every vote for a third party candidate in this race is a vote against Prohibition and those who support it.

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      Totally correct, Jenifer.

      The character assassinations against Wolfe might stick if Wolfe isn't allowed to respond with his own article, but when people see I have similar arguments, as does the Libertarian, regarding the initiative process, Kate still ends up with a lost vote. If they won't give up the arguments for prohibition and democracy restrictions that keep prohibition around, no amount of attacking Wolfe will move their campaign forward. As you point out, there are options.

      Instead, Kate and her supporters should put forward a new platform, how she will reverse her position against the initiative process, reverse her position against campaign finance reform, reverse her position stifling third parties and ballot access, reverse her position against full open software and hardware in elections (and many more policies listed on my website seth4sos.org) -- she needs to reverse her policies to re-capture the progressive vote where now she only has people who haven't been paying attention to her policies or who bankrolled her regressive policies.

      Four years ago to avoid my getting too many votes, she came out "in favor" of campaign finance reform and took the Independent Party endorsement. This time she didn't get it. She failed to do anything meaningful regarding campaign finance reform. I thought we had a victory for campaign finance reform when I pressured her to do that. But it amounted to NOTHING.

      In the last forum I saw a lot of fearmongering from Kate rather than an explanation of policy changes to turn her administration around.

      The politics of fear won't work anymore with young people. We are too cynical. The alternative is to not vote for them when that happens. Third parties provide the alternative to bring us back (or first) to our indirect democracy.

      When we had to go out and get thousands of new registrations to maintain access to the ballot in the Pacific Green Party due to an illegal re-interpretation of the law, we looked at who signed up. We recruited more under 35 than over 35. We recruited more who hadn't been registered to vote than those who were switching or registering with a party from non-affiliated. We didn't target them explicitly. The next generation is simply attracted to alternatives because they no longer respect or understand the positions and behaviors of the major parties anymore.

      But just as important, young people are excited by direct democracy -- proposing and voting on issues they care about that the old legislators won't support. By Kate's dismantling the initiative process to make it so progressive ballot measures have a hard time getting on the ballot, she has turned her back on the next generation. Legislators are not a panacea especially when they are corrupted by special interest big money. By enriching our direct democracy, we can re-enfranchise my generation and the next.

      Please Democrats, take this as a teachable moment.

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