Petition Police

It’s a dangerous world. You never know when someone may be out there . . . petitioning their government?

In the past few months, citizens circulating petitions for an anti-tax referendum have hit Oregon streets. And with those citizens trailed a team of investigators. The Secretary of State had hired them, paying with funds provided courtesy of state legislators — the same politicians who passed the tax increases petitioners are seeking to block.

The surveillance proved almost as amusing as it is frightening. For four-fifths of the time investigators put in — at $40 to $70 an hour — they couldn’t even locate petition circulators to commence their stakeouts.

One government agent secretly infiltrated a training seminar held by Americans for Prosperity. The covert op filed this shocking report: “The training was very thorough and was consistent with the training provided by the Elections Division.”

In the end, investigators found no serious wrongdoing — none of the fraudulent activity that might justify secretive investigations of citizens who just happen to oppose the legislators’ policies.

Oregon politicians claim such tactics are necessary to “to protect the integrity of our electoral system.” But they’ve completely lost touch with basic democratic principles. Without any evidence a crime has been committed, citizens petitioning their government or engaging in other political pursuits should not be subjected to secret witch-hunts.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation, for more information go to www.citizensincharge.org