Kevin Mannix cries over failing to get enough signatures

Carla Axtman

A few weeks ago, initiative backers around Oregon turned in signatures for their petitions in an effort to get them on the ballot. At the time, Kari posted the list of potentials, along with the math on which measures were likely to make the cut, which were not and which were on the bubble.

Here's what Kari said on July 3 about Kevin Mannix's redistricting initiative:

Nonpartisan redistricting commission (full text pdf). They turned in 125,948 raw sigs. Since it's a constitutional amendment, they'll neeed 110,358 valid. In order to make the ballot, they'll need to have a valid rate of 87.6% - a tall order. I'm skeptical that they'll make it (unless they did something unusual, like pre-screening their signatures.)

The results are now in, and Mannix's initiative didn't make the cut. But instead of revisiting his incompetent signature gathering campaign, Mannix and his cadre are whining about Secretary of State Kate Brown following and applying the rules that everyone other initiative is required to follow.

The Oregonian has the story:

The initiative needs 110,358 valid signatures to make the November ballot. Elections officials have not finished checking the 125,948 signatures initiative petitioners turned in -- a number Secretary of State Kate Brown has said was the closest call among initiatives that submitted signatures. But already, the Elections Division has thrown out 12,975 signatures, making it highly unlikely that the measure will qualify for the ballot.

"It's a devastating situation," said Kevin Mannix, who helped write the initiative. "We know we can't make it on the ballot if they pull this many without even looking at them."

In other words, Mannix is pissed that Kate Brown applied the same rules to his initiative that she applied to everyone's and he didn't make the cut because his team didn't gather enough signatures.

Initiative Petition 50 is probably not going to make the ballot for one simple reason: Mannix turned in way too few signatures. The campaign turned in roughly 126,000, which would require an 87.6% validity rate. As far as I'm able to divine, no initiative in the last 10 years has had a validity rate that high. In fact, since 2000, only one has been above 85%, and that was Measure 9 in 2000. Mannix's other initiative this year, IP13, had a 68% validity rate.

There's no possible way they were going to make the ballot, and they knew that when they dropped off the signatures. Or if they didn't, then they're idiots.

Essentially, Mannix, Common Sense for Oregon, and VOTE Oregon LLC screwed this thing up from the get-go. They started too late didn't really ramp up until they saw they could tap into people pissed off about M66 and M67. Basically, it was revenge marketing that happened too far down the road.

The other reason Mannix may be hitting the panic button here has to do with money. Normally, Mannix only has Loren Parks' money. But this time, he had a lot more investors. Some noteworthy players bought into this: $35,000 from AOI, $10,000 from Stimson Lumber, $50,000 from Phil Knight, $25,000 from Oregon Restaurant Association, not to mention tens of thousands from other donors and corporations. To put it simply, Mannix has a lot of explaining to do to a lot of major donors--and he's in no hurry to cop to his mistakes. So what does he do? Loudly and disingenuously shifts the blame to Kate Brown, claiming that because she is following the rules, that sunk the initiative.

All in all, Mannix's boondoggle fleeced more than a half million dollars for Initative Petition 50. Keep in mind that this cash could have gone to Chris Dudley or other GOP legislative candidates--and Mannix basically just flushed it down the toilet. That can't be making his benefactors very happy.

Not a pretty picture.

And speaking of not pretty, radio hatemonger homophobe Bill Post thinks the problem is that Kate Brown is bisexual. What a jackass.

  • (Show?)

    Well, no, that's not what he's saying--or at least, "that's the way it works for every initiative" is not a sufficient answer to his claim. His claim is that the practice of excluding an entire sheet of names because one of any number of mistakes was made on one or more entries, is not delineated by state law on signature acceptance.

    Now, the proper answer to THAT question is hinted at in the R-G piece, which is that the state laws follow guidelines set out by the Leg in multiple pieces of legislation--some of which appears to (and I would expect) rely on discretion from the executive in the form of the SoS. It's not exactly radical that SoS's across the country have a range of administrative calls to make on their own, within their elected powers.

    Yes, Mannix is whining. No, I don't think he has much of a case, from my limited legal understanding, because of the reasonable power of the SoS to interpret the legislative guidelines given her. But it has nothing to do with Mannix being treated the same way as all other initiative campaigns under the most recent changes to initiative rules. And it certainly doesn't address what is actually a pretty valid question: why does screwing up one name invalidate a whole page of otherwise legitimate attempts to voice democracy?

    What if it were marriage equality or legalization that failed on such a basis? Would more leftist folks find that very fair, that they signed perfectly properly, but because some shmuck wrote in the address for he AND his wife--leaving his wife to sign for herself, mind you--their own otherwise unrelated petition to be heard is nullified?

    Is it ultimately the most proper solution for one reason or another? Perhaps so--but it's a valid question, even if Mannix is whinging about just to get his petition on the ballot.

    • (Show?)

      Mark, it isn't that the SoS has discretion; she generally doesn't. The Oregon Administrative Rules provide the guidelines for signature verification, and she must follow those rules. Even though the rules were not adopted by the legislature, they are just as much a part of the law as if they had been - unless and until they are superseded by legislative action or duly adopted rule amendments.

      As a lawyer, Mannix knows this. His complaint is political, not legal.

    • (Show?)

      This is very clearly not about "screwing up one name," it's about the circulator screwing up stuff like, for example, scratching in the date illegibily or writing in all of the signer's information. These things call into question the validity of the sheet. If a sheet is not properly attested, it's not valid.

      More importantly, though, is that Mannix's suit has nothing to do with the intricacies of signature gathering rules. This is about him trying desperately to cover his ass in order to have someone other than himself to blame for the incompetence of his signature campaign. He's not whining "just to get on the ballot". The whining won't change the fact that he didn't turn in enough signatures. He's whining because he's trying to distract his benefactorss (Phil Knight, AOI, etc.) from the fact that he just wasted a lot of their money.

      And by extension, distracting from the fact that all that cash could have gone to elect Chris Dudley and GOP legislative candidates.

  • (Show?)

    Mannix can whine all he wants. Fact is, turning in 125,948 raw sigs to get 110,358 valid is a prescription for failure - even if the validation rules hadn't changed.

    Every other campaign that turned in signatures (including Kevin's pack-the-prisons-with-sexting-teens measure) figured it out and turned in enough signatures.

  • (Show?)

    I find it very interesting that AOI spent so much money on such a partisan effort. While ostensibly a non-partisan reform effort it was designed and financed to elect more Republicans. It kind of removes the curtain of AOI as just representing business.

  • (Show?)

    Nice posting Mark.

    Mannix or any petitioner has good reason to scrutinize the procedures by which petition signatures are validated. And the SoS's office is obligated to respond to complaints.

    But at first blush there seems to be a lot more smoke than fire here. bradbury's office commissioned high quality research into the statistical procedure by which signature sheets are sampled.

    As to the 10% reject rate prior to the sampling, Mannix certainly can help us put that in context by telling us what percentage were rejected in prior petitions. The SoS could do so as well.

  • (Show?)

    It is not clear that the SoS did anything outside the normal in reviewing the petitions. Clearly the easiest thing the petiioners could have done in overcoming a percieved higher level of scrutiny was - obtain more signatures.

    The percieved higher level of scrutiny comes about because the petions sought to remove power from the very agency verifying the signatures. Mannix should have realized this and obtained a much higher level of signatures in that case. the problem lies with the process used, not the SoS.

    • (Show?)

      But Kurt, if you were Mannix, wouldn't you want to change what is considered normal procedure?

      He's using this as a tool to revisit all the existing rules, not just to make an exception for this one measure.

  • (Show?)

    Jon, I have known Kevin Mannix since his successful days reforming Oregon wc law in the early 90's. He is an iconoclast who actually enjoys tilting at windmills. Bottom line this could have been important to the state, but we will never know.

    Carla is correct, all Mannix had to do was turn in more signatures. Now if the Sos threw out almost 40% of the signatures like she just did to another amendment to the constitution, then Mannix might haave a valid concern.

connect with blueoregon