Wash­ing­ton State’s Pub­lic Dis­clo­sure Com­mis­sion will inves­ti­gate alle­ga­tions that Tim Eyman and his asso­ciates failed to time­ly reg­is­ter a com­mit­tee for Ini­tia­tive 517 and failed to time­ly report con­tri­bu­tions and expen­di­tures for the I‑517 cam­paign, its Direc­tor of Com­pli­ance said this week.

I‑517 is an ini­tia­tive to the Leg­is­la­ture that would:

  • dou­ble the length of time that ini­tia­tive spon­sors have to gath­er sig­na­tures for ini­tia­tives to the people;
  • dubi­ous­ly require that cities and coun­ties put ini­tia­tives up for a vote even if they exceed the scope of the local ini­tia­tive power,
  • and uncon­sti­tu­tion­al­ly infringe on the First Amend­ment rights of ini­tia­tive oppo­nents by attempt­ing to crim­i­nal­ize decline-to-sign activities.

Eyman began qui­et­ly work­ing on I‑517 a year ago with his asso­ciates Roy Ruffi­no and Eddie Agazarm, who run a peti­tion­ing busi­ness called “Cit­i­zen Solu­tions” that has repeat­ed­ly run afoul of Wash­ing­ton State’s work­er pro­tec­tion laws (Eddie and Roy were audit­ed and fined by the Depart­ment of Labor & Indus­tries in 2011 for this rea­son). The trio and their oth­er asso­ciates failed to time­ly reg­is­ter a polit­i­cal com­mit­tee for I‑517 with the Pub­lic Dis­clo­sure Com­mis­sion and then failed to time­ly report the com­mit­tee’s con­tri­bu­tions and expenditures.

This prompt­ed Taco­ma activist and fel­low Eyman watch­dog Sher­ry Bock­winkel (who used to run a sig­na­ture gath­er­ing firm her­self) to file a com­plaint with the PDC against Eyman and his ini­tia­tive fac­to­ry last August.

Up until this week, the com­plaint had been in lim­bo. But on Tues­day, the PDC’s Philip Stutz­man for­mal­ly acknowl­edged that it had been received, and that PDC staff would be con­duct­ing an inves­ti­ga­tion. The case num­ber is 13–027.

Phil’s let­ter began as follows:

Dear Ms. Bockwinkel:

The Pub­lic Dis­clo­sure Com­mis­sion (PDC) received a com­plaint from you on August 21, 20112, alleg­ing that the Pro­tect Your Right to Vote on Ini­tia­tives polit­i­cal com­mit­tee (PRVI) vio­lat­ed RCW 42.17A.205 by fail­ing to time­ly reg­is­ter its cam­paign in sup­port of Ini­tia­tive 517 to the leg­is­la­ture, and vio­lat­ed RCW 42.17A.235 and RCW 42.17A.240 by fail­ing to file time­ly, accu­rate reports of con­tri­bu­tions and expen­di­tures. On August 29, 2012, you pro­vid­ed sup­ple­men­tal infor­ma­tion rel­e­vant to your allegations.

PDC staff will inves­ti­gate these alle­ga­tions and noti­fy you of the results when the inves­ti­ga­tion is com­plete. All laws cit­ed in this let­ter can be found on our web­site, under “Home” and “Laws and Rules.”

It’s a relief to know that the PDC is going to take action and inves­ti­gate Sher­ry’s com­plaint. It should not have tak­en sev­en months for them to send a let­ter say­ing they’re open­ing an inves­ti­ga­tion. Of course, the PDC is a pub­lic ser­vice, and like most of our state’s oth­er pub­lic ser­vices, it is underfunded.

(If the PDC had more staff and a big­ger bud­get, it could be more nim­ble and respon­sive, and redesign its web­site to be more acces­si­ble and reli­able using new­er tech­nolo­gies. But that’s a sub­ject for anoth­er post).

Tim Eyman may think that he is above the law (and above our state Con­sti­tu­tion), but he is not. Cit­i­zen­ship comes with respon­si­bil­i­ties as well as rights. If Eyman wish­es to exer­cise his right as a cit­i­zen to spon­sor ini­tia­tives (even uncon­sti­tu­tion­al ones) then he needs to file his C1-PCs, C4s, and C3s on time.

Eyman has been in busi­ness with his ini­tia­tive fac­to­ry for over ten years; he should be very famil­iar with the law by now and be in full com­pli­ance all of the time.

But he has not been. His his­to­ry of delin­quent report­ing and will­ful igno­rance of our pub­lic dis­clo­sure laws demon­strates that he does not care about the peo­ple’s right to know who is try­ing to influ­ence their votes dur­ing elec­tion sea­son or get their sig­na­tures dur­ing a sig­na­ture drive.

And speak­ing of sig­na­ture dri­ves, the PDC’s deci­sion to act on this com­plaint comes just a few weeks after after a probe by the Sec­re­tary of State’s Elec­tions Divi­sion found thou­sands of appar­ent­ly fraud­u­lent sig­na­tures on I‑517 peti­tions.

The mat­ter has since been turned over to the Wash­ing­ton State Patrol for inves­ti­ga­tion and poten­tial refer­ral for prosecution.

The fraud­u­lent sig­na­tures we know about were sub­mit­ted by three sig­na­ture gath­er­ers who also worked on the cam­paign to qual­i­fy I‑522, and then turned in to Eyman and his asso­ciates, who evi­dent­ly did not both­er to con­duct checks of their own peti­tion sheets pri­or to turn­ing them over to the Elec­tions Division.

We hope that the PDC and State Patrol’s inves­ti­ga­tions will be thor­ough and will have reper­cus­sions. Tim Eyman and his asso­ciates need to be held account­able for the sketchy, shady cam­paign that they ran last year to qual­i­fy I‑517. Allow­ing their law­break­ing to go unpun­ished would set a bad precedent.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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2 replies on “PDC to investigate Tim Eyman, associates for violating our public disclosure laws (again!)”

  1. I could have sworn Eyman had been pun­ished for some­thing sim­i­lar before…

    By the way, great blog. I’ve stopped by before, but after check­ing through some of the posts I real­ized I should be read­ing more often. Any­how, I’m def­i­nite­ly hap­py I redis­cov­ered this place. I’ll be book­mark­ing and check­ing back frequently!

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