Newly filed reports with the Public Disclosure Commission show that several of Tim Eyman’s top wealthy benefactors are working with Medina’s Rodney Tom to fund $350,000 worth of attack ads against Supreme Court Justice Charlie Wiggins, who is one of three incumbents seeking reelection to the state’s highest court this year.
Tom’s political action committee, disingenuously named “Judicial Integrity Washington”, previously targeted Chief Justice Barbara Madsen in the Top Two election. Although the PAC spent several hundred thousand dollars in an attempt to defeat her, Madsen still managed to swamp both of her opponents, winning 63.9% of the vote. And she enjoys the support of all the state’s major newspaper publishers, whose recommendations in judicial contests can have some influence.
Having apparently concluded that Wiggins is actually more vulnerable than Madsen, Rodney Tom has decided to change targets for the general election, hoping to knock out at least one of the justices responsible for striking down the League of Education Voters’ I‑1240 (charter schools) and Tim Eyman’s numerous unconstitutional schemes to starve public services by requiring a two-thirds vote to pass revenue bills in the Washington State Legislature.
“Judicial Integrity Washington” has so far raised $453,100.00. $350,000 of that is from billionaire Kenneth Fisher of Camas. Kemper Freeman, Jr. of Bellevue has given $50,000, and former wireless mogul John Stanton has given $50,000 as well. Artie Buerk has given $3,000 and Rodney Tom himself gave $100.
Those are the only contributions on record to date.
Rodney Tom is the PAC’s sole officer. The PAC’s C1-PC lists him as both the “campaign manager” and the Treasurer.
The PAC is Tom’s operation, but Tim Eyman is also peripherally involved.
Not coincidentally, Eyman yesterday sent out an email to his followers eviscerating Wiggins and calling for his ouster from the Supreme Court.
“Charles Wiggins is an embarrassment and deserves to be removed from office,” snapped Eyman. “He and Barbara Madsen and Mary Yu are running for reelection and on the November ballot. They all feel entitled to their positions and annoyed that they need to defend their indefensible rulings.”
(Emphasis is Eyman’s.)
As usual, Tim Eyman has no idea what he’s talking about. I have seen each of the aforementioned justices this year out on the campaign trail, and I can attest that Eyman’s characterization of them is false. Justices Yu, Madsen, and Wiggins are some of the most accessible jurists I’ve ever met. They are glad to engage citizens in conversation and talk about issues like access to justice. They are very serious about complying with judicial ethics rules, and follow those to the letter.
Eyman’s vicious and vindictively worded email from yesterday suggests he has been itching to take a swing at Justice Wiggins for some time.
Wiggins, readers may recall, memorably defeated Richard Sanders six years ago, leaving Tim Eyman with just one friend on the Supreme Court: Jim Johnson. Johnson subsequently chose to retire and was succeeded by Mary Yu, one of the few jurists to have struck down an Eyman initiative at the trial court level.
All three justices enjoy strong bar associating ratings.
Justice Mary Yu is rated “Exceptionally Well Qualified” across the board. Justice Barbara Madsen has three “Exceptionally Well Qualified” ratings and one “Well Qualified” rating. Justice Charlie Wiggins, meanwhile, has four “Exceptionally Well Qualified” ratings and two “Well Qualified” ratings.
None of their opponents appear to have any “Exceptionally Well Qualified” ratings.
The last time the right wing in Washington made a major play for positions on the Supreme Court was ten years ago, when the once powerful Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) spent large sums of money in an attempt to knock out incumbent Justices Gerry Alexander and Susan Owens. The BIAW spent over a million dollars in 2006 to elect their handpicked candidates, but voters resoundingly returned Alexander and Owens to the bench for new terms.
Tom’s attack ads against Madsen were ineffective back in the summer, but he’s evidently convinced Eyman’s benefactors to give him another massive pile of cash so that he can try to pick off a different Supreme Court justice.
Rodney Tom was once a state lawmaker who worked on causes like ensuring homeowners victimized by negligent construction had access to justice.
Now, like Tim Eyman, he’s a mouthpiece for right wing billionaires.