The Passion of Tim Eyman
The Passion of Tim Eyman: He gives... and gives... and gives... (Cartoon by R.R. Anderson, September 16th, 2008)

Count Tim Eyman among those who will sure­ly be glad to see 2016 dis­ap­pear into the rearview mir­ror. The brash-talk­ing, brag­gado­cios ini­tia­tive prof­i­teer had arguably his worst year yet since estab­lish­ing his ini­tia­tive fac­to­ry around the turn of the cen­tu­ry. In this post, we’re going to look back at Eyman’s awful year with a blow-by-blow account­ing of Eyman’s many defeats and setbacks.

Let’s rewind to Jan­u­ary of 2016 and begin our chronol­o­gy there. About one year ago, Eyman’s I‑1366 was being chal­lenged in King Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court, and Eyman was con­fi­dent that it would be upheld. We’d char­ac­ter­ized I‑1366 and its aban­doned pre­de­ces­sor I‑1325 from the get-go as bla­tant­ly unconstitutional.

But Eyman was sure that I‑1366 would sur­vive judi­cial scruti­ny and even went so far as to pre­dict the law­suit against I‑1366 would fail.

That set the stage for one of the most mem­o­rable moments of the year.

Jan­u­ary 19th, 2016: King Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court Judge William Down­ing rules Tim Eyman’s hostage-tak­ing I‑1366 is uncon­sti­tu­tion­al, strik­ing down the ini­tia­tive in its entire­ty. Eyman receives the news on his smart­phone while in Olympia, hav­ing just par­tic­i­pat­ed in an episode of The Pam Roach Show.

Footage shot by KING5 of Eyman try­ing to digest the news on his smart­phone immor­tal­izes his shock and con­fu­sion. He had expect­ed a dif­fer­ent out­come.

Eyman in disblief over I-1366 court decision
Tim Eyman can’t believe the ver­dict in Lee v. State (Cour­tesy of KING5)

Feb­ru­ary 8th, 2016: Tim Eyman holds a press con­fer­ence at the Sec­re­tary of State’s office in Olympia to announce that he is launch­ing a new ini­tia­tive to defund Sound Tran­sit — I‑1421. NPI crash­es the press con­fer­ence and vows that I‑1421 will be met with vig­or­ous oppo­si­tion should it qual­i­fy for the ballot.

Tim Eyman signs I-1421
Tim Eyman becomes the first sign­er of Ini­tia­tive 1421 (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Feb­ru­ary 12th, 2016: Refus­ing to capit­u­late to Tim Eyman’s black­mail scheme, Sen­ate Democ­rats defeat an attempt by Sen­ate Repub­li­cans to amend Wash­ing­ton’s Con­sti­tu­tion to require a two-thirds vote to pass any rev­enue increase. They vote down Pam Roach’s SJR 8211 in a show of uni­ty.

March 15th, 2016: The Wash­ing­ton State Supreme Court hears oral argu­ment in Lee v. State, with the jus­tices ask­ing attor­neys for both sides a slew of crit­i­cal ques­tions. Eyman shows up for the hear­ing wear­ing a yel­low t‑shirt with the words Per­sis­tence: Nev­er Give Up! The next day, he writes: “Sit­ting in court yes­ter­day, I was so proud of our bril­liant attor­ney Dick Stephens and the unflap­pable Deputy Solic­i­tor Gen­er­al Cal­lie Castil­lo. They did a fan­tas­tic job defend­ing I‑1366.”

May 13th, 2016: Thurston Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court Judge Mary Sue Wil­son orders that Tim Eyman be sanc­tioned and pay a $600 fine for mali­cious­ly with­draw­ing an anti-tolling ini­tia­tive (I‑1525) just pri­or to when Wil­son was to have heard argu­ments over whether the mea­sure’s bal­lot title should be changed. Sev­er­al weeks lat­er, The Her­ald con­demns Eyman’s prac­tice of bal­lot title shop­ping and his more recent, relat­ed prac­tice of with­draw­ing and re-fil­ing ini­tia­tives chal­lenged in court by NPI allies in an edi­to­r­i­al enti­tled Eyman’s games cost­ing the tax­pay­er.

May 20th, 2016: Eyman breaks his shoul­der while bicy­cling. In a sub­se­quent email to his fol­low­ers, he explains his injury: “I got into a nasty bicy­cle acci­dent and broke my shoul­der (they said I frac­tured the neck of my left humerus). It hurts like a son-uv-a-gun. So for the next 12 weeks, we’re gonna find out if I can do polit­i­cal activism with one hand tied behind my back (fig­u­ra­tive­ly speak­ing). I’ll tell you this: typ­ing this update one hand­ed sure was a challenge!”

May 24th, 2016: Act­ing on NPI research, Wash­ing­to­ni­ans For Eth­i­cal Gov­ern­ment (WFEG), an NPI part­ner found­ed to serve as a people’s cam­paign finance watch­dog for the Ever­green State, announces the fil­ing of a citizen’s action against Eyman and his asso­ciates for fail­ing to prop­er­ly report a set of videos attack­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic state leg­is­la­tors as inde­pen­dent expen­di­tures. As required by state law, WFEG noti­fies Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son and King Coun­ty Pros­e­cut­ing Attor­ney Dan Sat­ter­berg it is pre­pared to sue Eyman on behalf of the state if they decline to pros­e­cute the violations.

May 26th, 2016: A unan­i­mous Wash­ing­ton State Supreme Court affirms Judge Down­ing’s rul­ing that I‑1366 is uncon­sti­tu­tion­al in its entire­ty, bury­ing Eyman’s scheme to coerce the Leg­is­la­ture into sab­o­tag­ing Wash­ing­ton’s cher­ished tra­di­tion of major­i­ty rule. I‑1366 is the sixth Eyman ini­tia­tive to be struck down as uncon­sti­tu­tion­al, after I‑695, I‑722, I‑747, I‑960, I‑1053, and I‑1201.

June 2nd, 2016: Tim Eyman admits to The Her­ald’s Jer­ry Corn­field that he’s aban­doned I‑1421, a whole month ahead of the dead­line to sub­mit sig­na­tures. Hav­ing run out of time to qual­i­fy any­thing to the Novem­ber 2016 bal­lot, Eyman announces he’s doing a fol­low-up ini­tia­tive to the 2017 Leg­is­la­ture (I‑869) to again attempt to wipe out fund­ing for Sound Tran­sit and Amtrak Cascades.

June 7th, 2016: Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son refers WFEG’s cit­i­zen action notice to the Pub­lic Dis­clo­sure Com­mis­sion. Two days lat­er, the PDC con­firms it has opened an inves­ti­ga­tion, led by Tony Perkins (Case No. 5729). The next day, Eyman under­goes surgery to repair his injured shoulder.

June 9th, 2016: Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son announces his office has filed motions request­ing that courts in Thurston and Sno­homish coun­ties enforce sub­poe­nas issued in the state’s inves­ti­ga­tion of Tim Eyman, his asso­ciates, and the polit­i­cal and for-prof­it enti­ties they con­trol. “Tim Eyman and Cit­i­zen Solu­tions refuse to coop­er­ate with my inves­ti­ga­tion. I will not accept that,” Fer­gu­son says.

June 11th, 2016: NPI breaks the news that Eyman has tak­en down the col­lec­tion of attack ads he launched against Demo­c­ra­t­ic leg­is­la­tors fol­low­ing the fil­ing of WFEG’s cit­i­zen action against him and his associates.

June 14th, 2016: Keep Wash­ing­ton Rolling, a statewide coali­tion of labor, busi­ness and envi­ron­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions and com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers that works togeth­er to advo­cate for trans­porta­tion invest­ments, sub­mits three cit­i­zen’s action notices of its own to Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son, iden­ti­fy­ing addi­tion­al pub­lic dis­clo­sure law vio­la­tions com­mit­ted by Eyman, his asso­ciates, and their tan­gled web of polit­i­cal committees.

June 29th, 2016: Sno­homish Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court Judge Ellen Fair orders Tim Eyman to coop­er­ate with Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son’s probe into his con­ceal­ment and pay attor­ney’s fees to the State of Wash­ing­ton. Eyman is giv­en until July 13th, 2016 to pro­duce the doc­u­ments the AG wants.

July 1st, 2016: Fol­low­ing a hear­ing in Thurston Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court, Judge Mary Sue Wil­son (who’d pre­vi­ous­ly sanc­tioned Eyman) orders Eyman’s asso­ciates Roy Ruffi­no and Eddie Agazarm to also coop­er­ate with Fer­gu­son’s probe.

July 6th, 2016: Hav­ing reviewed WFEG’s com­plaint alleg­ing that Eyman’s ads tar­get­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic law­mak­ers were ille­gal, PDC staff find “mul­ti­ple appar­ent vio­la­tions” of Wash­ing­ton State’s pub­lic dis­clo­sure law. Staff rec­om­mend the Com­mis­sion refer the mat­ter to Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son for fur­ther action, and the Com­mis­sion does so at a spe­cial meet­ing two days lat­er.

July 27th, 2016: AG Fer­gu­son announces he is ask­ing Judges Wil­son and Fair to hold Eyman and his asso­ciates in con­tempt of court for fail­ing to turn over all of the records sought by state’s attor­neys. In court fil­ings, the State explains it needs the mate­ri­als to ascer­tain whether Washington’s pub­lic dis­clo­sure laws were vio­lat­ed, as the Pub­lic Dis­clo­sure Com­mis­sion pre­vi­ous­ly con­clud­ed that they were.

August 5th, 2016: Thurston Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court Judge Mary Sue Wil­son orders Eyman’s asso­ciates to pay $9,975.00 in rea­son­able attor­neys fees and $494.50 in court costs for hold­ing up Fer­gu­son’s probe. She opts not to con­sid­er a motion that would hold Eyman’s asso­ciates in con­tempt for the time being.

August 12th, 2016: Sno­homish Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court Judge Ellen Fair finds that Tim Eyman failed to abide by her order requir­ing he turn over doc­u­ments request­ed by AG Fer­gu­son’s office by July 13th. She signs off on a new order draft­ed by the state and by Eyman’s attor­ney Mark Lamb which empow­ers the state to get Eyman’s tax records direct­ly from the Inter­nal Rev­enue Ser­vice and his bank records direct­ly from Bank of America.

Sep­tem­ber 16th, 2016: Again act­ing on NPI research, Wash­ing­to­ni­ans For Eth­i­cal Gov­ern­ment files anoth­er cit­i­zen’s action alleg­ing that Tim Eyman, his trea­sur­er Bar­bara Smith, and “We Love Our Cars” (the com­mit­tee formed to pro­mote I‑869) broke Wash­ing­ton’s pub­lic dis­clo­sure law by fail­ing to dis­close where the com­mit­tee’s ini­tial seed mon­ey came from.

Sep­tem­ber 22nd, 2016: Eyman is ordered to pay $20,000 in attor­ney’s fees and enforce­ment costs to the State of Wash­ing­ton for hold­ing up Fer­gu­son’s probe. “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 says. ”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.”

Sep­tem­ber 26th, 2016: Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son announces he has filed a set of three law­suits in Thurston Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court against Eyman and his asso­ciates. The com­plaints are based on the alle­ga­tions raised by Wash­ing­to­ni­ans For Eth­i­cal Gov­ern­ment and Keep Wash­ing­ton Rolling in the afore­men­tioned May and June cit­i­zen’s action notices.

Sep­tem­ber 30th, 2016: Eyman goes under the knife again, this time to sur­gi­cal­ly repair a her­nia. In an email to his fol­low­ers, he requests they pray “that my sur­geon’s hands are steady so I don’t get turned into a Eunuch”. Eyman also men­tions that some­time after his nasty bicy­cle acci­dent, he frac­tured the ring fin­ger of his left hand. “Now that I’ve turned fifty, it’s clear that my war­ran­ty is up. I’ve been hav­ing a heck of a time late­ly,” he says wryly.

Novem­ber 8th, 2016: Wash­ing­ton vot­ers reelect Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee and Supreme Court Jus­tices Bar­bara Mad­sen, Char­lie Wig­gins, and Mary Yu, all of whom Eyman despis­es and had cam­paigned against. Wig­gins’ and Mad­sen’s deci­sive vic­to­ries are par­tic­u­lar­ly notable con­sid­er­ing that Eyman’s wealthy bene­fac­tors gave Rod­ney Tom hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars to fund a dis­parag­ing attack ad against them. Vot­ers also pass a slew of pro­gres­sive ini­tia­tives Eyman had urged a no vote on. Mean­while, at the local lev­el, vot­ers hand­i­ly pass Sound Tran­sit 3 (a $54 bil­lion mass tran­sit expan­sion plan), which Eyman had vocal­ly opposed.

Asked for his reac­tion to ST3’s vic­to­ry, Eyman calls it “a gut punch”.

Novem­ber 30th, 2016: Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son files more charges against Eyman, adding Eyman’s “We Love Our Cars” com­mit­tee as a defen­dant in one of the Sep­tem­ber law­suits after review­ing WFEG’s notice of a cit­i­zen action and deter­min­ing that suf­fi­cient evi­dence exist­ed to move for­ward with prosecution.

Decem­ber 30th, 2016: Tim Eyman’s I‑869 fails to qual­i­fy as an ini­tia­tive to the Leg­is­la­ture with the pass­ing of the dead­line to sub­mit sig­na­tures. I‑869 is the third ini­tia­tive Eyman said he would be doing in 2016 that did not qualify.

We still have a few hours to go before 2016 is com­plete­ly over and in the books. But it’s safe to say at this point that it has been a bru­tal year for Tim Eyman — chock full of set­backs, bad turns, and defeats of all kinds.

Not every moment this year was a bad one, of course. Eyman cel­e­brat­ed his twen­ty-sec­ond wed­ding anniver­sary and his old­est son’s eigh­teenth birth­day. Con­grat­u­la­tions to him on those milestones.

Eyman, a big base­ball fan, told fol­low­ers that the fam­i­ly com­mem­o­rat­ed the occa­sion with the Mariners at Safe­co Field. The Safe, as it’s known around these parts, is one of the pub­licly-financed sports sta­di­ums Eyman bit­ter­ly opposed back in the 1990s. Despite hav­ing fought to pre­vent Safe­co from get­ting built, Eyman sure seems to spend qual­i­ty time there. He’s a reg­u­lar in the stands.

A hap­py reg­u­lar, no less:

Tim Eyman at Safeco Field
Tim Eyman at Safe­co Field

This year, Eyman also got to per­son­al­ly meet a hero of his: Neo­fas­cist tycoon Don­ald Trump. Eyman got his pic­ture tak­en with Trump in August when Trump came to Everett to raise mon­ey. No doubt Eyman is over the moon that Trump is due to become the Unit­ed States’ forty-fifth President.

But while Trump may have found suc­cess this year, Eyman did not, as the chronol­o­gy above doc­u­ments. And his bad run looks like­ly to con­tin­ue into 2017.

Eyman remains under inves­ti­ga­tion for seri­ous alleged vio­la­tions of Wash­ing­ton’s pub­lic dis­clo­sure laws and will also have to defend him­self against those three law­suits alleg­ing an addi­tion­al slew of violations.

He can also expect vig­or­ous, imme­di­ate oppo­si­tion if he attempts to qual­i­fy any­thing to the 2017 bal­lot as an ini­tia­tive to the people.

We believe the Eyman error of Wash­ing­ton pol­i­tics needs to be over. It’s time for our state to move for­ward and fix its upside-down tax code. Eyman has long been an imped­i­ment to imple­men­ta­tion of solu­tions that would address our state’s fis­cal prob­lems. With his ini­tia­tive fac­to­ry out of the pic­ture, the path for­ward towards pro­gres­sive rev­enue reform would be sim­pler and clearer.

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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One reply on “Tim Eyman’s brutal 2016”

  1. Yeah well, let me punch Tim­my again: ST3 is a win for the true believ­ers! Jen­nifer Gregerson can out cycle this los­er and win the biggest, the bravest, the bold­est tran­sit pack­age of all time!

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