Today at about 4:20 Secretary of State Kate Brown announced that her office has issued a $65,000 fine against an initiative petition campaign for repeated violation of Oregon’s constitutional ban on payment per signature.
The penalty, leveled against the Initiative Petition 24 (marijuana decriminalization), is the largest fine ever brought against a signature gathering campaign.
“I want to thank our investigators and the Department of Justice for quick work in this case,” said Secretary of State Kate Brown. “I remain committed to cracking down on fraud and abuse in the initiative process. I sincerely hope this case sends a message to all chief petitioners and signature gatherers that, we treat these cases very seriously.”
“As longtime watchdogs of the initiative process, Our Oregon is pleased that Secretary Brown has taken these violations so seriously. When campaigns violate the Oregon Constitution and pay per signature, it cheats voters and it cheats the circulators on the street,” reads a statement from Our Oregon, which is beginning its own initiative campaign on kicker reform.
“Paying per signature greatly incentivizes fraud and forgery, marring the reputation of Oregon’s historic initiative process,” reads the statement.
In 2002, voters responded to widespread fraud and forgery in the initiative system by voting to pass Measure 26 by a wide margin, banning the practice of payment per signature.
“If petitioners willingly and repeatedly violate the clear language of the law, they should expect to face stiff penalties. We applaud Secretary Brown’s decision and the signal it sends to all other campaigns who would consider breaking the law,” says Scott Brown of Our Oregon.