Oklahoma Multi-County Grand Jury Hears from TABOR Signature Drive Circulator

Article excerpt

A former circulator of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights initiative petition appeared Tuesday before a multi-county grand jury meeting in the Oklahoma County Courthouse.

Robert Colby, who testified during the recently adjourned TABOR signature drive that he currently lives in Sacramento, Calif., spent more than an hour inside the closed grand jury proceeding.

Colby initially surfaced last month as an anonymous caller to attorneys for TABOR protestants, offering to testify about alleged illegal activities by out-of-state petition circulators. He identified himself in a subsequent phone call.

Colby later appeared at a petition signature-challenge hearing before Oklahoma Supreme Court referee Greg Albert.

At the time, Colby refused to answer some questions from attorneys, citing an order from Oklahoma County Judge Bryan Dixon.

Dixon is overseeing the multi-county grand jury, which is being conducted by the Oklahoma attorney general's office.

During the signature hearings, Kieran Maye Jr., an attorney for TABOR proponents, objected to Colby's testimony. Maye said blocking him from asking certain questions inhibited his ability to gauge the nature of Dixon's order, question Colby's credibility, bias and whether he had been granted immunity by the attorney general.

A spokesman for Attorney General Drew Edmondson declined Tuesday to say whether Colby has been granted immunity.

Those types of matters, what's going on before the grand jury, we don't discuss, said public information officer Charlie Price.

Mary Robertson, an attorney for TABOR protestants, also said she could not discuss that issue.

Colby's testimony before the referee centered on allegations that many paid circulators were professional petitioners who move from state to state collecting signatures for ballot initiatives.

It is not illegal in Oklahoma to pay circulators.

However, under Oklahoma law, petition circulators must be qualified electors. One of the requirements for electors is eligibility to register to vote, which requires Oklahoma residency.

During his hearing testimony, Colby acknowledged lying about his current address on a Montana petition affidavit in June, where he listed an Oklahoma City address. …

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