Scandal-plagued initiative promoter Tim Eyman and the political committees he controls have agreed to reimburse Washington State taxpayers to recoup the costs incurred to compel his cooperation into its investigation into his concealment of campaign funds, Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office has announced.
“I refused to allow Tim Eyman and Citizen Solutions to impede our investigation,” Ferguson said in a press release announcing the news. “The court has appropriately ordered Eyman to allow us direct access to the information we requested and to pay taxpayers back for wasting my office’s time.”
Now that is has access to the records it wants, Ferguson’s office is no longer seeking to have Eyman held in contempt of court — at least not for the time being. Judge Ellen Fair has signed off on the agreement between the state and Eyman, in which Eyman has agreed to pay up and the AG has agreed to drop its motion.
Eyman’s buddies at Citizen Solutions were previously ordered to pay $12,969.50 in attorney’s fees and court costs by Thurston County Superior Court Judge Mary Sue Wilson, in a hearing we covered last month.
That brings the cost of Eyman’s stonewalling to over $30,000 in penalties.
“Since the AG filed his contempt motion, Eyman and the committees produced additional tax records and some banking records, but still failed to produce all the records as requested,” Ferguson’s office noted in its press release.”Now that the court-ordered releases and costs and fees associated with the enforcement of the Attorney General’s subpoenas have been received, the investigation continues.”
It has been almost exactly a year since the Public Disclosure Commission voted unanimously to refer this matter to Attorney General Bob Ferguson for prosecution, having found that Eyman committed multiple apparent violations of RCW 42.17A when he qualified Initiatives 1185 and 517 to the ballot in 2012.
(I-1185 appeared on the November 2012 ballot; I-517 appeared on the November 2013 ballot as an initiative to the Legislature that was not acted upon.)
Ferguson’s office summarized the violations it is investigating as follows:
- $623,325 in payments by Voters Want More Choices to the signature gathering firm Citizen Solutions “incurred in a manner to effect concealment” because they were described in the committee’s reports as paying for signature gathering, when $308,185 was passed from Citizen Solutions to Eyman’s for-profit company, “Tim Eyman, Watchdog for Taxpayers” on July 11, 2012;
- Eyman’s use of approximately $170,000 in contributions from Voters Want More Choices for personal living expenses;
- The expenditure of about $200,000 contributed to support Initiative 1185 to fund signature gathering for a separate initiative, Initiative 517;
- Concealment of Eyman as the source of $182,000 of in-kind contributions attributed in reports to Citizens in Charge, a Virginia-based company; and
- Failure of Voters Want More Choices and Protect Your Right to Vote on Initiatives to file complete and accurate reports of contribution and expenditure activity.
All those violations are part of the same case.
But that’s not the extent of the trouble Eyman is in.
In the months since Ferguson’s office has taken over from the PDC, Eyman and his associates have continued to flout RCW Chapter 42.17A, prompting Washingtonians For Ethical Government and Keep Washington Rolling to each notify Ferguson of their intent to bring lawsuits against Eyman in the name of the state to enforce Washington’s public disclosure laws.
In May, Washingtonians For Ethical Government alleged that Eyman broke the law when he launched a series of independent expenditures against Democratic legislative candidates the previous month. The targeted candidates had refused to capitulate to Eyman’s demand that the Legislature sabotage the Constitution’s majority vote clause during the 2016 session.
The following month, having been asked to look into the matter by Ferguson’s office, the PDC confirmed the allegations and recommended Ferguson prosecute.
That same month, Keep Washington Rolling alleged in a set of forty-five day letters that Eyman had failed to properly report loans made to his committees.
And last week, Washingtonians For Ethical Government initiated a new citizen’s action against Eyman for concealing where his newest PAC’s seed money came from. (Eyman’s newest PAC, “We Love Our Cars”, was formed to promote I-869, an initiative to the Legislature for 2017. It has reported raising more than $150,000, but over $140,000 of that is unaccounted for in the committee’s reports.)
The Attorney General’s office has not yet announced how it intends to proceed with respect to prosecuting these more recent violations, but hopefully it will soon.