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Monday, July 24, 2006

Another day, another I-917 development

It seems, as I wrote yesterday, that every day there's a new twist in the saga of Tim Eyman's troubles with Initiative 917.

Let's start off with the dustup over that receipt.

Today we learned from the Secretary of State (via Stefan Sharkansky, oddly enough) that Chris McGann erred in his article in Friday's Seattle Post-Intelligencer when he wrote this:
Handy said his office provided Eyman with a receipt for 265,809 signatures the day he filed them -- and that Eyman accepted the receipt.
I suspected when I read that article a second and a third time that this probably wasn't right. It doesn't make sense that the Secretary of State would give an initiative sponsor a receipt for hundreds of thousands of signatures without actually doing a count.

Of course, counting that many signatures takes a long time and can't be done in an hour or two in one afternoon.

Here's what procedure that the Secretary of State actually follows - and here's what actually happened (according to Nick Handy):
I was not present at the time, but my understanding is that Tim Eyman appeared at the Secretary of State's Office with a letter he had written indicating that he was submitting 300,353 signatures to the office.

At the front desk, he asked our receptionist to date stamp his letter as received. After she did this, he turned to the press and announced that the Office of Secretary of State had just acknowledged receipt of 300,353 signatures. Of course, we were just acknowledging receipt of a letter written by Tim Eyman claiming he was submitting 300,353 signatures. We had not counted teh (sic) pages or the signatures on his petitions at that time.

At that same time, we counted the pages (not the signatures) in either his presence or the presence of his team and issued a receipt to him indicating that on that day, July 7, he had submitted 2,716 pages (not signatures) to our office. Previously on June 29, he submitted 14,270 pages (not signatures) to our office. So, we issued receipts to him for 16,986 pages (not signatures) for this petition.

[...]

So, in summary, our office never issued a receipt to Mr. Eyman for 300,353 signatures.

An article in the media did later indicate that our office issued a receipt for "signatures" upon receiving the petitions and that was was not correct. I believe Joanie Nacke in our office called the reporter immediately to advise of the error.
Now that we've got established, let's go back to the 300,353 figure, which is Eyman's number. Eyman told what little press showed up on Friday July 7th that that was what he had turned in.

When the Secretary of State actually counted the signatures on the petitions, however, they reported finding far fewer signatures. The Secretary of State's number is 266,008.

Eyman has nothing to prove that he ever actually had 300,353 signatures.

Moving on, let's look at record keeping.

Rich Roesler at the Spokesman-Review reports that Eyman and his partners, the Fagans, apparently keep pretty lousy records:
Despite this being a $422,000 effort, Eyman said no one at the campaign photocopied the petitions before turning them in. He never has, in a decade of doing initiatives, he said.

Nor, he said, did anyone keep a record of the number of petition pages turned in.

He said that Mike Fagan weighed the boxes of petitions at the Spokane office before they were taken to Olympia and submitted, but no one at the campaign kept a record of those weights. The weights were only written on the boxes that were turned in, Eyman said, and state election workers recycled the boxes.
It's pretty hard to believe Eyman's trumped up assertion that someone at the Secretary of State's office "pilfered" petitions for Initiative 917.

Given Eyman's penchant for not telling the truth and what we're learning about his failure to keep good "administrative records" for his signature drives, it seems highly likely that the blame lies entirely with Eyman, who either made a big mistake or is just flat out lying (and maybe it's a combination of both).

UPDATE: John Carlson and Tim Eyman are sparring on KVI right now. A caller just told Eyman that he "sounds ridiculous". Tune in now to hear absolutely priceless talk radio: conservatives questioning Tim Eyman.

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