• John Gerard
Yesterday I interviewed Bill Gates Sr. about his new initiative to tax the wealthy in Washington State, and toward the end of our conversation I asked him about Doe v. Reed, the case the Supreme Court is considering today. His answer might surprise a few people.

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This week the Supreme Court is taking up a lawsuit that grew out of Referendum 71, in which the court will ultimately answer the question of whether petition signatures for initiatives and referendums in our state should become public record. How do you feel about that debate?

I lean in the direction that it shouldn’t be public, doesn’t need to be public. You know, I don’t think that the initiative process is the best thing that’s ever happened to a government, to start with. And I think there would be a concern that in signing this, my name will be on page three of the Seattle Times tomorrow morning and it adds something negative to signing a petition, and that concerns me. That’s it.

That’s not the position of the Attorney General of Washington. He’s going to be arguing that they should be a public record.

That’s right, he is.

I’m interested in the thing that you said about the initiative process not being the best thing that’s ever happened to state government—because you’re taking advantage of the process here with I-1077.

That’s right. That’s right. It’s inconsistent.

Allright. So explain your concern about the initiative process in general, as a concept.

Well, they spend millions and millions of dollars on these things. I guess what I’m really saying is that a more wide-ranging, more thoughtful legislature is what we really need. We don’t need to have these semi-annual, bi-annual, whatever it is, riots that we have running these initiatives and referendums. It’s unattractive. But I understand that at the same time I’m saying that I’m not satisfied with the legislature, either. So this is the safety valve, so to speak.

And you’re gonna take advantage of it, or use it, so to speak.


Look for the full Gates Sr. interview—in which he talks about Tim Eyman, Frank Blethen, and how he himself became a wealthy guy—later today.