Sizemore permanently banned from charities

Sizemore permanently banned from charities

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - A Multnomah County judge Friday permanently barred anti-tax activist Bill Sizemore from operating, managing or being a key employee of any charity.

Late last year, Judge Janice Wilson found Sizemore had violated a previous injunction that ordered any charity run by Sizemore to, among other things, comply with Oregon and federal campaign and charitable reporting laws and not donate to political action committees.

At the time, Wilson simply ordered that injunction extended another five years.

But on Friday, at the request of Oregon Attorney General John Kroger and two union organizations, she placed a permanent injunction on Sizemore from operating any charity and said Sizemore must get court permission to operate nonprofit political committees.

Sizemore has run afoul previous court decisions more than once. That's why, explained Tony Green, a spokesman for the attorney general, the organizations sought the amendment.

"We have the expectation that if the injunction is crystal clear - 'You cannot operate a charity' - that there will be no misunderstanding," he said.

Added Greg Hartman, a lawyer for the Oregon Education Association: "This has all been about Bill following the rules, which he's had an extraordinarily hard time doing."

The OEA is one of two unions that has sued Sizemore.

The ruling was part of an ongoing case in which Wilson found Sizemore had violated the original injunction by creating the American Tax Research Foundation, then using it to funnel money to himself as compensation for work on various ballot measures. Both the judge and the unions have called it a "sham."

When Wilson made her initial ruling, she ordered Sizemore to repay the amount he and the charity transferred to him for personal and political uses, but she didn't say to whom he should repay that money.

On Friday, she clarified her decision. She said Sizemore should repay the American Tax Research Foundation, an organization for which he no longer works.

Attorneys from both sides are working to determine how much Sizemore received. Hartman, said a conservative guess is between $500,000 and $700,000.

Sizemore's attorney, Gregory Byrne, has also been representing the foundation. On Friday, he asked the judge to unfreeze the organization's assets so he and an accountant could be paid.

Wilson declined, saying she had no evidence that those now controlling the foundation were operating it legitimately.

"It was created as a sham," she said. "It was run as a sham."

Wilson said she might lift the restriction if there were proof it was operating under its stated purpose to educate people about state tax laws. "If it wanted to actually perform that work, it would be fine."

Byrne had said earlier that if the judge declined to unfreeze the organization's accounts, she would effectively shut it down but declined to say Friday whether it would actually dissolve.

Sizemore was not at the hearing, but earlier in the day he dismissed Kroger's move to amend the injunction as politically motivated.

"What this is is an attempt by the (Department of Justice) to do the unions a favor and to make it as hard for me as possible to raise money for politics," he said. "This is nothing more than the attorney general's office helping the unions get rid of a political opponent."