April 23, 2012
SALEM – An investigation by the Secretary of State’s Election Division found Robert Wolfe, chief petitioner for Initiative Petition 24, violated Oregon’s constitution. Wolfe paid employees based on the number of signatures gathered rather than an hourly wage as Oregon law requires. Two circulators who have submitted signed statements that they were unlawfully paid by the signature gathered twenty-six petition sheets. A penalty of $2,500 per sheet was issued.
“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.”
This is the largest penalty ever issued in Oregon for a violation of the pay per signature ban. Several circulators participated in the investigation and stated they were paid by signature. We continue to investigate claims. The circulators have been referred to the Bureau of Labor and Industries to file wage claims if they were not paid for the hours they worked.
By law, the 26 signature sheets that were obtained by the circulators who were paid per signature will still be processed in order to determine if the measure qualifies for the November ballot. All signatures must be submitted by 5 p.m. on July 6, 2012 in order to be considered for the general election this fall.
Initiative Petition 24 is the constitutional amendment decriminalizing the possession of marijuana.
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