Bill Sizemore, Oregon's high-profile anti-tax activist and Republican candidate for governor, has been indicted on tax evasion charges that could send him to prison if convicted.
The Oregon Department of Justice said Monday that Sizemore and his wife, Cindy Sizemore, are each charged with three counts of evading Oregon personal income taxes. Each count carries a maximum punishment of five years and a $125,000 fine.
The indictment alleges the couple failed to file returns for the tax years 2006, 2007 and 2008.
Bill Sizemore called the charges a "political attack" by public employee unions and state Attorney General John Kroger, a Democrat who had union support.
Those unions and Sizemore have been in a long-running legal battle. On Monday, the Oregon Education Association _ the state's largest teachers union _ said Sizemore "continues to act as though he is above the law.
"It's not that he's being politically targeted; he keeps breaking the law," said OEA spokeswoman Becca Uherbelau.
In 2002, a Multnomah County jury found that Sizemore's former political action committee had engaged in a "pattern of racketeering" by filing false financial reports and using forged signatures to qualify anti-union and anti-tax measures for the ballot.
He has since been found in contempt of court three times for violating restrictions on his political activities.
On Monday, Sizemore said he and his wife paid estimated taxes for 2006 and 2007 _ but didn't file returns _ and were trying to figure out their tax liability for 2008.
"If this was anybody but me, there would not be an indictment," he said.
Sizemore last week announced he would seek the Republican nomination for governor.
He said at the time that he might have to campaign from "inside a jail cell" because of his various legal difficulties.
The Oregon Justice Department said the indictments were issued by a Marion County grand jury on Oct. 27, but were not unsealed until after a state tax amnesty period ended Nov. 19.
While under oath in a civil lawsuit filed against him by teachers unions last year, Sizemore acknowledged he failed to file the tax returns.
Oregon Department of Revenue officials confirmed late last week that the Sizemores did not seek to take advantage of the tax amnesty, which was an opportunity for taxpayers to file or amend tax returns in exchange for a waiver of civil penalties and partial interest.
Sizemore is scheduled to be arraigned on the tax evasion charges Monday in Marion County Circuit Court.