Hopefully putting an end to months of stonewalling by Tim Eyman, Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Ellen Fair today ordered the initiative profiteer to cooperate with Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s investigation into his alleged violations of Washington’s public disclosure law, which began last fall with a referral of a complaint from the Public Disclosure Commission.
Eyman has until July 13th to turn over tax returns, bank statements and other information sought by Ferguson’s office as part of its investigation. Eyman is also being required to pay attorney’s fees to compensate the State of Washington for costs associated with enforcing its lawful orders.
Judge Fair (whose surname earned her a profile in The Herald of Everett a few years ago) heard oral arguments during today’s civil motions calendar from Chad Standifer, representing the State of Washington, and Mark Lamb, representing Tim Eyman. After listening to presentations by each, she determined that Eyman had no justification for not cooperating with the investigation.
Eyman’s position, as represented by Lamb, is that he’s okay with the state’s investigators coming to Lamb’s office or some other location and looking at the requested records, but he doesn’t want to turn over copies of the because he’s afraid that his opponents, or other persons who are not in alignment with his aims and agenda, would request the information through the Public Records Act.
Ferguson’s office maintains they need the records to properly investigate Eyman’s wrongdoing, that Eyman has no legitimate grounds for withholding them, and that if somebody makes a request for the information, there is a mechanism in place that would allow Eyman to request the information be exempted from disclosure.
Fair agreed and granted the relief requested by the State.
“Mr. Lamb has been quite candid with the Court in terms of indicating, several times, and in his written materials, that his client has absolutely no objection to the State viewing the records […] and is concerned clearly not about the State viewing them, but about, I guess, the public viewing them, or being out in the public purview,” she said, once Standifer and Lamb had finished their presentations.
“But I would agree with the State that I don’t think that is what’s before the Court today. There is no public records request; this is just a request to enforce subpoenas, which there’s no argument being made that the State does not have the right to do. So I would agree […] there’s no protective order before the Court, there’s no public records request before the Court, and so I think that the State is entitled to the records,” she concluded.
After awarding the State attorney’s fees, which the State is entitled to under Chapter 42.17A of the Revised Code of Washington, Fair brought the hearing to an end. It’s our understanding that the proposed order drafted by the State gives Eyman a couple of weeks to turn over the requested documents. Should he fail to do so, he could be found in contempt in court, which could land him in jail.
UPDATE: Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office has released a statement lauding the order and vowing to hold Tim Eyman accountable.
“No one is above the law,” Ferguson said. “My office will conduct a full investigation of this matter, and I will not allow Tim Eyman to impede it.”
We thank Attorney General Ferguson for his determination to bring the truth to light. It is vital that Tim Eyman be held responsible for his wrongdoing.