SALEM, Ore. (AP) -- Conservative activist Bill Sizemore now has a court-appointed attorney to help defend him against felony charges of tax evasion, after telling a judge he's too poor to hire his own lawyer.
Sizemore, who is also a Republican candidate for governor, has previously represented himself in court.
Marion County Circuit Court Judge Claudia Burton on Wednesday also provided a court-appointed lawyer for Sizemore's wife Cindy.
Sizemore and his wife are each charged with three counts of tax evasion, accused of failing to file state tax returns for 2006, 2007 and 2008. They pleaded not guilty in December. No trial date has been set.
At Wednesday's hearing, Sizemore said he barely has $100 in the bank, is working for $10 an hour planting trees and clearing brush, and hardly makes enough to buy groceries.
If convicted, he and his wife could face a maximum five years in prison and $125,000 fine on each count. The couple could also owe back taxes and penalties.
Sizemore has previously acknowledged not filing the returns and said Wednesday that he still hasn't. He said he paid an estimated $50,000 in state and federal taxes during those years, proof he wasn't trying to evade his taxes.
He answered 25 minutes of question from the judge and the prosecutor, Senior Assistant Attorney General Andrew D. Campbell, about his income and his assets.
Sizemore testified that he's living for free at a friend's house and hasn't earned a salary in the past 14 months. The last salary he received was $4,000 from Oregon Taxpayers United, one of his political organizations, he said.
His only assets of any value are a vacation time share at the Eagle Crest Resort near Redmond, a gun, a bronze statue, a hot tub and a pickup that's not worth what he owes on it, he added.
Campbell was skeptical.
"I don't think the taxpayers of Oregon should be on the hook for paying for a lawyer," he said.
In her ruling, the judge said she has no way of knowing whether Sizemore is telling the truth about his income and assets. But she added she wanted to protect his constitutional rights and provide him an attorney when he says he wants one and can't afford one.
After the hearing, Sizemore said he still plans to deliver his own opening statement and closing argument at trial, preferring to speak directly to jurors.
On the witness stand, "You're very guarded in your answers and you're under oath," he said. "I want the jury to be able to see me talking where I'm free to express my thoughts to them, and look them in the eyes up close so they can measure me and see that I'm not the guy the state's attorney will try to paint me to be."