Initiatives challenged in court

So it goes. The terrible trio of ballot initiatives are being challenged in court.

The request is based on allegations that the signature gatherers duped local citizens across Montana into signing petitions, provided them with false information and ultimately tainted the integrity of the initiative gathering process, according to the lawsuit.

If you peruse the article you may notice a familiar litany of complaints. They sound like the very tactics I b*tched about some time ago! And as Matt Singer notes, the initiatives involved one strange little feat of signature-gathering:

I doubted legal strategies before, but that was before I read that they submitted 41,761 of their signatures under affidavits of a single signature gatherer. They’re actually claiming that one guy gathered over 8,000 signatures in a single week (a typical week for a signature gatherer would be several hundred). This is absolutely ridiculous.

Or, as Gerik writes in the comments:

I remember very clearly working my [*]ss off for four months, with 8 staffers, and over 250 volunteers to collect more than 34,000 signatures in 2004. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. If homeboy gathered 41 large by himself, I’ll eat my hat.

But, thanks to the initiatives and the ensuing lawsuit, we have one of the funniest quotes generated in this election cycle, and that’s no mean feat:

Trevis Butcher, campaign coordinator of all three ballot measures, learned about the lawsuit late Thursday and said he was shocked at the lengths “dishonorable lawyers” would go to “take away the voters’ right to make decisions.”

“It’s anti-American,” said Butcher, who promised to fight the lawsuit.

Those of you following the source of funding for these initiatives will recognize the irony. You can tell when a right-winger is in trouble when he starts questioning the patriotism of his opponents. What’s that quote…“the last refuge of a scoundrel”?

Unfortunately for Butcher, gathering signatures is also part of the democratic, and very American, process. They’re called “citizens’” initiatives for a reason.

If the court kills the initiatives, I won’t shed any tears. Yes, it’s fine to have a vote on ideas, etc, but not under false pretences and shoved down our throats.

If you support these bills, I suggest ramping up for a genuine Montanans’ movement to gather signatures and putting this on the ballot the right way. I know Dave Budge, for one, has sworn to revive CI-154 for the next election: I wish him well. In fact, I’m thrilled he’s going to do so. I’d rather have my curmudgeonly neighbor out getting signatures than a pack of mercenaries funded by a New York real estate developer.

The irony in all of this, though, is that these intiatives may die before any of Montana’s dailies actually catch up to the story of their funding. It’s too bad the people of Montana never got a chance to know the information behind the initiatives…

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