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503-378-6002 or Kristina.Edmunson@doj.state.or.us
About Ellen F. Rosenblum
Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced the plea agreement and sentencing of an Oregon initiative petition circulator. Myers and Secretary of State Bill Bradbury also issued an alert to voters identifying protections against signature petition fraud.
In Multnomah County court, James Gurga plead guilty to one felony count of signing a petition in another name, and a misdemeanor count of forgery in the second degree. As part of the plea agreement, Gurga was sentenced to two years probation during which he is prohibited from gathering signatures in Oregon or any other state; a $1,500 fine; 100 hours of community service; and an agreement to cooperate fully with Department of Justice officials in any other petition fraud investigations. Gurga is the second petition circulator to be sentenced within the last three months.
"The initiative process has a significant, and in some cases permanent, impact on our state's laws and Constitution." Myers said. "It is critical that we protect the integrity of this process."
In addition to announcing the sentencing, Myers and Secretary of State Bill Bradbury alerted voters to common scams perpetrated by fraudulent circulators and simple steps voters can take to help reduce the risks of being victimized.
"With the advent of paid signature gathering, we have seen some unsavory characters out there taking advantage of the initiative process to make a quick buck," said Bradbury. "We are cracking down on fraud, but we need Oregonians' help. Your signature shouldn't only be valuable to the people who are paid to gather it - it should be valuable to you. I urge all Oregonians to treat your signature as carefully as you do your vote."
Common forms of petition circulating fraud include:
Oregonians can protect themselves by following these simple strategies:
For more information on election laws, you can visit the Secretary of State's website at www.sos.state.or.us.
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