The Oregon Secretary of State's office has issued its largest ever penalty for a violation of signature gathering laws.
The election division investigated Robert Wolfe, chief petitioner of an effort to decriminalize the possession of marijuana. The investigation found that Wolfe paid his petitioners by the signature -- rather than by-the-hour, as required by law. Secretary of State Kate Brown says she wants to be clear that people who signed the petition, will still be counted.
Brown: "The signatures are considered in the pool for the validation process. Those sheets are not being tossed out."
Wolfe has been fined $65,000 dollars. He can appeal and ask for a hearing. Two petition circulators submitted signed statements saying they were paid per signature. The state has referred them to the Bureau of Labor and Industries, where they may file wage claims.
Initiative Petition 24 is a constitutional amendment. Wolfe is trying to get it qualified for the November ballot.
Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network