TEACHERS UNION LIES TO WIN ELECTION
By Bill Sizemore
December 1, 2008
Oregon’s public employee unions, financed by more than $5 million from the Oregon Education Association (OEA) and more than $3 million from the National Education Association (NEA), defeated Oregon’s Measure 64 by about eight-tenths of one percent.
Measure 64 would have ended the policy of using the public payroll system, including public employee time on the job, public buildings, and public equipment and supplies to collect political funds for the public employee unions. The public employee unions combined are reported to have spent $12 million to $14 million to barely defeat this popular measure, thus shattering the all-time record for spending on an Oregon ballot measure.
However, to insure that they would win the election, public employee unions and their campaign committee, Defend Oregon, made several false statements in their ads and even committed libel and slander against the sponsor of the measure, yours truly.
Without belaboring the point, here is a quick glance at some of the “big ones” the unions told during the course of the campaign. Keep in mind that when you spend $12 million or more advertising in a small state like Oregon, you can mislead a lot of people.
The unions began their television campaign with a commercial telling voters that Measure 64 would (somehow) keep firefighters, nurses and teachers from doing their jobs. I scratched my head the first time I saw that ad, wondering how a measure, which merely ended political payroll deductions, could keep firefighters from fighting fires, nurses from helping sick people, and teachers from teaching kids.
Nonetheless, that’s the message that ad promulgated. The ad, which ran for several nights, seemed to be on every popular prime time on every major channel. The ad also told voters that Bill Sizemore was the sponsor or author of the measure.
The unions’ next ad told voters that charities like the Oregon Food Bank would not be able to collect food for the poor and hungry, if the measure passed. Of course, those charities that used the money they collected solely to provide for the needy (and not for politics) would not be affected by the measure, but that didn’t seem to matter to the unions. The ad was in my opinion intentionally misleading.
As a side note, many voters are not aware of the extent to which some of the larger charities are connected to labor unions. Unions promote certain charities among public workers and solicit donations on behalf of the charities and then sometimes receive in exchange for their assistance positions on the charities’ boards of directors. Unions then use their clout with those charities to determine how they spend their money. That’s why charities at times make misleading campaign statements for labor unions. They owe them.
Getting back to the topic at hand, one anti-64 direct mail piece, which was widely distributed, told voters that big tobacco, oil, and insurance companies were helping our side of the campaign. That one really had me scratching my head. To the best of my knowledge, our side received no money and no assistance of any kind from any oil, tobacco, or insurance company, large or small. But, hey, why let a small detail like that get in the way of a good campaign ad? Big oil, big tobacco, and insurance companies are easy targets in today’s economic climate, so why not tie them to Measure 64, even if they never donated a dime.
The unions were desperate to win and the polls showed them still behind as election day approached. As I mentioned earlier, from the beginning of the campaign all the union financed ads mentioned me personally. Whether the ads were print ads, direct mail, or radio or television ads, they told voters that Bill Sizemore was the sponsor or author of the measure. But that message wasn’t cutting it. The ads were not moving the numbers. Perhaps it was a calculated strategy from the beginning or perhaps it was an act of desperation, but at some point the unions decided to go “nuclear.”
Suddenly, Bill Sizemore, the sponsor of Measure 64, had been “convicted” of racketeering. This statement was both outrageous and libelous. Some anti-64 spokespersons even said I had been convicted of fraud, forgery, and racketeering or was a convicted felon. This was all news to me. I have never been so much as charged with a crime in my life, let alone convicted of one, but suddenly the other side’s ads were saying that I had been convicted of crimes.
They made these statements in public forums. They made them in mass mailings. They knew those statements were false. They knew I had never been charged or convicted of anything, yet they said I had, because they thought it would help them defeat my measure. They seemed to have no regard for truth or honesty or fair play.
As another side note, the OEA told another whopper so bizarre that it even earned them criticism from their biggest fans, Oregon’s most liberal editorial boards. The teachers union ran an ad telling voters to vote “No” on all the “Sizemore” measures. The ad, however, made it appear that three non-Sizemore measures were mine.
One of those three ads wasn’t even a conservative measure. It’s chief sponsor and spokesman was a former liberal Democrat secretary of state. You can imagine the fellow’s response to the OEA’s claim that his measure was a “Sizemore” measure. He told reporters that the teachers union ad was the most blatantly deceptive attempt to mislead voters he had seen in 20 years.
All in all, the public employee unions, especially the teachers unions, ran a campaign that seemed designed from beginning to end to deceive and mislead. True, you can get away with a lot in politics, but believe it or not, outright lying is against the law. And when you spend millions of dollars running false ads and then win by a fraction of one percent, it is easy to see that those lies were the deciding factor in the election.
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I believe the unions and their campaign committee have gone far enough over the line to get themselves in serious trouble. Earlier this week, our campaign committee, appropriately named “Oregonians for Honest Elections,” has filed a lawsuit in Marion County Circuit Court. Within the next few days, I will be filing a separate lawsuit seeking personal damages for libel, slander, and defamation of character.
© 2008 Bill Sizemore - All Rights Reserved