Rightwing Fraud Derails Tax Revolt

The libertarian movement backed by a super-wealthy New York developer is proving why it hates the government so much: they appear constitutionally unable to follow the law. Howard Rich and his cronies have been behind efforts to clone Colorado's disastrous TABOR spending cap measure, various knock-off proposals based on Oregon's anti-land use planning law Measure 37, and various assaults on the judicial system.

The bad news for voters in the states where Rich decided to play is that he and his underlings repeatedly violated multiple laws in their attempts to qualify these measures for the ballot. The good news is that judges and state officials are largely doing their jobs and holding Rich and his ilk accountable for their actions. In many states, this accountability has resulted in the disqualification of these ballot measures.

Michigan: Last week, a bipartisan panel removed a TABOR measure from Michigan's ballot after a sampling of signatures indicated such high rates of duplicate and invalid signatures that a startling 40% of the signatures were deemed invalid. The number of duplicate signatures was especially remarkably high -- indicating that many voters who were signing the petitions were either misled or not fully informed about what they were signing, a pattern that has emerged in other states.

Montana: Yesterday, a state judge ruled that three initiatives -- a TABOR clone, a Measure 37 clone, and an anti-judge initiative -- failed to qualify for the ballot because "the signature-gathering process was permeated by a pervasive and general pattern and practice of deceit, fraud and procedural non-compliance." The judge wrote that to allow the initiatives to move forward after the systemic presence of such practices would "manifest taint on the political process." Unsurprisingly, the rightwingers hit back announcing the decision is judicial activism.

Nevada: The state's supreme court knocked down one Rich initiative and cut the most onerous sections out of a second for different reasons. The state's TABOR clone, known as Tax and Spending Control (TASC), was filed with the state in one form and circulated with different language among voters. The court found that to be an inappropriate bait-and-switch. TASC's backers complained that they had only screwed up on some minor details, $1.5 billion in minor details. Meanwhile, the state's Measure 37 clone was, as in most states, embedded in an initiative responding to the recent Kelo decision. The court held that combining the two issues into a single initiative -- a strategic decision recommended by the rightwing Reason Foundation -- violated the state's laws that require that initiatives relate to a single subject. They ended up removing the Measure 37 language, leaving the measure as simply a Kelo response.

Other States: These are the most recent decisions to come down, but they are hardly the only ones. In Oklahoma, a unanimous supreme court decision found that Rich's gang illegally relied on out-of-state signature gatherers and struck the state's TABOR proposal from the ballot. In Missouri, the secretary of state and a judge both found that supporters of TABOR and Measure 37 initiatives had failed to comply with the law, preventing both measures from qualifying for the ballot.

Despite these victories, ballot measures are still advancing in several states. For more on the proposals and the groups fighting them, visit's TABOR, Land Use, and Judicial Assault campaign page:

  • Arizona: Measure 37 Anti-Land Use Planning Clone remains on the ballot.
  • California: Measure 37 Anti-Land Use Planning Clone remains on the ballot.
  • Colorado: A judicial term limits measure remains on the ballot.
  • Idaho: Measure 37 Anti-Land Use Planning Clone remains on the ballot.
  • Maine: TABOR Spending Cap proposal remains on the ballot.
  • Nebraska: TABOR Spending Cap proposal remains on the ballot.
  • Oregon: TABOR Spending Cap proposal remains on the ballot. Two measures attacking the judiciary are also on the ballot.
  • South Dakota: A proposal to allow criminals to sue judges remains on the ballot.
  • Washington: Measure 37 Anti-Land Use Planning Clone remains on the ballot.

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