NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

Déjà vu: Unmasking of Tim Eyman’s deceptions leads to media field day

Yes­ter­day, Sep­tem­ber 21st, 2015, felt a lot like Feb­ru­ary 5th, 2002. That was the day that peo­ple all over Wash­ing­ton State woke up to the news that Tim Eyman had con­fessed to tak­ing over a hun­dred and fifty thou­sand dol­lars of cam­paign funds for his own per­son­al use while false­ly claim­ing he was work­ing as a vol­un­teer.

The sto­ry had been bro­ken the night before by The Asso­ci­at­ed Press’ Dave Ammons, who now works for Sec­re­tary of State Kim Wyman. Ammons was tele­phoned by Eyman two days after the Seat­tle Post-Intel­li­gencer pub­lished a sto­ry by reporter Neil Modie which ques­tioned Eyman’s sus­pi­cious pay­ments to him­self.

The sto­ry Ammons sub­se­quent­ly put out on the wire was a doozy, chock full of quotes from Eyman that revealed his true sleazy char­ac­ter. In one fell swoop, Eyman admit­ted to deceiv­ing the press, the pub­lic, his fol­low­ers, and even his own co-spon­sors, Jack and Mike Fagan and Monte Ben­ham. Here’s a selec­tion:

  • “The fact is, it is true that I made mon­ey in past cam­paigns and planned to make mon­ey on future cam­paigns… I want to con­tin­ue to advo­cate issues and I want to make a lot of mon­ey doing it.”
  • “The Per­ma­nent Offense Inc. orga­ni­za­tion was set up to have a way to cov­er the fact that I was mak­ing mon­ey spon­sor­ing ini­tia­tives, and none of my co-spon­sors knew that was the case.”
  • “I was in lie mode… I became rid­dled with guilt. It was the biggest lie of my life and it was over the stu­pid­est thing in the world. The biggest thing I’m guilti­est of is an enor­mous ego. Hubris.”
  • “This entire cha­rade was set up so I could main­tain a moral supe­ri­or­i­ty over our oppo­si­tion, so I could say our oppo­nents make mon­ey from pol­i­tics and I don’t… It was addic­tive. I was get­ting deep­er and deep­er and deep­er into this cha­rade. I thought I found a way to make mon­ey off our ini­tia­tives with­out our oppo­nents know­ing it, or know­ing it for sure. I was too clever by half. I just got deep­er and deep­er into this lie.”

The next day, the sto­ry was car­ried in the papers:

Tim Eyman: I took money, lied about it

Eyman admits to lying (Seattle P-I)

Thir­teen and a half years have gone by since, but Eyman’s behav­ior has not changed. The Pub­lic Dis­clo­sure Com­mis­sion’s inves­ti­ga­tion into his I‑517 finances runs two hun­dred and forty-four pages, and the includ­ed doc­u­men­ta­tion con­firms what we have long sus­pect­ed: Eyman flout­ed Wash­ing­ton’s pub­lic dis­clo­sure law by ille­gal­ly using dark mon­ey to qual­i­fy Ini­tia­tive 517.

What’s tru­ly fas­ci­nat­ing are the tran­scripts of the inter­views con­duct­ed by PDC staff with Eyman and his asso­ciate Eddie Agazarm. These inter­views detail the extent to which Eyman made unwrit­ten side deals with his asso­ciates that his oth­er asso­ciates were appar­ent­ly unaware of. It’s quite the tan­gled web.

The fol­low­ing exchange, in par­tic­u­lar, is very reveal­ing. It’s an excerpt from an inter­view between PDC staff and Eddie Agazarm, who owned the old Cit­i­zen Solu­tions along with Roy Ruffi­no. (Cit­i­zen Solu­tions was dis­solved and reformed as an LLC a few years ago.) In the inter­view, Agazarm claims that Ruffi­no was not enam­ored with I‑517, Agazarm and Eyman’s ini­tia­tive on ini­tia­tives, which NPI fought and defeat­ed two years ago with a diverse, bipar­ti­san coali­tion.

Eddie Agazarm: [Tim] was angling to get paid ear­li­er, right there in that let­ter.

(Dis­cussing nature of “part­ner­ship” described in July 8, 2012 email exchange)

Eddie Agazarm: Tim and I and William and Roy and I had dis­cussed at one time, Tim becom­ing a part­ner in Cit­i­zen Solu­tions. But that’s been, prob­a­bly for that rea­son, nev­er dis­cussed again.

PDC’s Phil Stutz­man: What do you think [Paul Jacob was expect­ing a pay­ment from Tim] for?

Eddie Agazarm: Maybe for con­sult­ing.

(Dis­cussing the “some­thing” Tim was work­ing on with Paul Jacob that could result in some nation­al recog­ni­tion.)

Eddie Agazarm: I would think it would be 517, but I can­not say that on first­hand knowl­edge. So I’m spec­u­lat­ing that it was 517, but it could also be oth­er things.

PDC’s Tony Perkins: What would they be work­ing on togeth­er that Tim would be reluc­tant to explain to Roy Ruffi­no?

Eddie Agazarm: 517.

PDC’s Tony Perkins: Why would he be reluc­tant to explain that?

Eddie Agazarm: Roy doesn’t have any­thing to do with 517. Roy didn’t like 517. If Tim want­ed to get paid to hur­ry up and help 517, or any­thing to do with 517, Roy wouldn’t… Roy was like, “no on 517” the whole time.

The above on-the-record inter­view took place on Novem­ber 8th, 2013 (which was after I‑517 had been defeat­ed), accord­ing to the tran­script of the con­ver­sa­tion.

Here’s a run­down of the play­ers involved in the I‑517 sig­na­ture dri­ve:

  • I‑517 was a project of Eddie Agazarm, Tim Eyman, and Paul Jacob. Jack Fagan was also involved, as he filed paper­work for the ini­tia­tive cam­paign com­mit­tee with the Pub­lic Dis­clo­sure Com­mis­sion.
  • Eddie came up with the idea for I‑517 dur­ing the plan­ning for I‑1185 and involved Tim in it. How­ev­er, Eddie’s long­time part­ner at Cit­i­zen Solu­tions, Roy Ruffi­no, was most­ly left out of the loop as he was­n’t enam­ored with I‑517.
  • Eyman was paid $308,000 by Cit­i­zen Solu­tions dur­ing the sum­mer of 2012, osten­si­bly as a con­sult­ing fee. This was just the lat­est in a series of kick­back pay­ments made to Eyman by Cit­i­zen Solu­tions. The Fagans were appar­ent­ly not aware of these pay­ments or Eyman’s ongo­ing “con­sult­ing” arrange­ment.
  • Eyman sub­se­quent­ly loaned some of his I‑1185 kick­back mon­ey to his friend Paul Jacob, who then donat­ed a near­ly iden­ti­cal sum to the I‑517 cam­paign com­mit­tee through his Cit­i­zens in Charge orga­ni­za­tion.
  • Eyman did not tell Agazarm about the loan to Jacob, and Eyman claims he did­n’t know what Jacob did with the mon­ey after he loaned it. The zero-inter­est loan was not for­mal­ized with a writ­ten agree­ment, and Eyman told the PDC dur­ing his depo­si­tion he could not recall exact­ly how much of it had been paid back. The PDC sub­poe­naed his bank records to find out.
  • Eyman, Agazarm, and Jacob lat­er appeared togeth­er in Olympia in Jan­u­ary of 2013 at the Sec­re­tary of State’s Elec­tions Annex to sub­mit sig­na­tures for I‑517 and speak to the media. I was present at this press con­fer­ence.
  • Eyman and Ruffi­no retained the ser­vices of the very same lawyer, Mark Lamb, to rep­re­sent them while answer­ing ques­tions from the PDC on July 11th, 2014. The pre­ced­ing Novem­ber, Eddie Agazarm evi­dent­ly came in with­out being accom­pa­nied by legal coun­sel.

Many peo­ple try to make a habit of learn­ing from their mis­takes. Tim Eyman clear­ly does­n’t. He has cho­sen, over and over and over again, to make his PDC report­ing as con­vo­lut­ed and con­fus­ing as pos­si­ble, to frus­trate those of us who are try­ing to track his ini­tia­tive fac­to­ry. He delib­er­ate­ly chose to con­ceal mon­ey dur­ing the I‑517 sig­na­ture dri­ve. He has him­self to thank for the trou­ble he’s in.

The PDC’s release of its find­ings yes­ter­day led to a media field day. KING5 made the com­ple­tion of the inves­ti­ga­tion its top sto­ry on the 5 PM evening news broad­cast, run­ning not one, but two seg­ments by Natal­ie Brand and Elisa Hahn.

KING5: Eyman Personally Benefited From Campaign Funds

(In the thumb­nail above, Paul Jacob can be seen stand­ing behind Eyman.)

KIRO ran its own sto­ry at 11 PM, which has­n’t been post­ed to the Web.

Every major news­pa­per in the state ran the sto­ry too, from The Seat­tle Times to the Spokesman-Review to The News Tri­bune of Taco­ma and The Her­ald of Everett.

The Times Com­pa­ny’s Wal­la-Wal­la Union Bul­letin picked up the Times sto­ry, while The Olympian and The Belling­ham Her­ald car­ried The News Tri­bune’s sto­ry (all three papers are owned by McClatchy).

Even more papers car­ried an Asso­ci­at­ed Press wire ver­sion of The News Tri­bune’s sto­ry, like the Yaki­ma Her­ald, Longview Dai­ly News, Tri-City Her­ald, and The Columbian. Broad­cast out­lets also had the AP ver­sion, from KCPQ to KXLY.

The Puget Sound Busi­ness Jour­nal felt it mer­it­ed a blog post.

Pub­lic radio’s Austin Jenk­ins filed a report for WSU’s NW News Net­work, which was also car­ried by Ore­gon Pub­lic Broad­cast­ing.

Online-only pub­li­ca­tions, from the Seat­tle P‑I to Cross­cut, had the news as well.

Here’s a look at some of the above-the-fold head­lines in this morn­ing’s papers:

The Olympian: Eyman used I-1185 funds personally

Seattle Times: Eyman received secret payments, PDC says

The News Tribune: Eyman used I-1185 funds for "living expenses"

Final­ly.… final­ly! Tim Eyman’s past mis­deeds are catch­ing up to him.

Eyman’s attor­ney says Eyman will not be attend­ing this Thurs­day’s enforce­ment hear­ing at Pub­lic Dis­clo­sure Com­mis­sion head­quar­ters in Olympia. But we will.

PDC staff are rec­om­mend­ing that the Com­mis­sion vote to refer the linked cas­es con­cern­ing Eyman’s extreme­ly seri­ous pub­lic dis­clo­sure law vio­la­tions to Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son for pros­e­cu­tion. The Com­mis­sion may vote to refer the mat­ter to Fer­gu­son on Thurs­day after hear­ing the staff report.

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