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.

Friday, March 31st, 2017

State of Washington sues Tim Eyman over illegal kickbacks, misuse of campaign funds

Bring­ing to an end a mul­ti­year inves­ti­ga­tion into Tim Eyman’s ille­gal cam­paign finance prac­tices, Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son announced today that the State of Wash­ing­ton has filed a law­suit in Thurston Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court seek­ing $2.1 mil­lion in penal­ties against him, his asso­ciate William Agazarm of Cit­i­zen Solu­tions, and Cit­i­zen Solu­tions itself, as well as seek­ing an injunc­tion bar­ring Eyman from “man­ag­ing, con­trol­ling, nego­ti­at­ing, or direct­ing finan­cial trans­ac­tions of any kind for any polit­i­cal com­mit­tee” in the future.

“Tak­ing kick­backs from con­trac­tors, using cam­paign funds for per­son­al expens­es, redi­rect­ing dona­tions made for one ini­tia­tive to a dif­fer­ent ini­tia­tive — it’s hard to imag­ine what more Mr. Eyman could have done to show his con­tempt for our cam­paign finance dis­clo­sure laws,” Fer­gu­son said in a state­ment.

Tim Eyman, as reg­u­lar Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate read­ers know, is Washington’s most pro­lif­ic spon­sor of right wing bal­lot mea­sures. He uses the Ever­green State’s ini­tia­tive and ref­er­en­dum process to under­mine rep­re­sen­ta­tive democ­ra­cy by forc­ing pub­lic votes on schemes pur­pose­ly intend­ed to wreck gov­ern­ment. NPI has been orga­niz­ing oppo­si­tion to Eyman and his schemes for over fif­teen years.

Timeline of Eyman's wrongdoing

Fer­gu­son’s office was asked to inves­ti­gate Eyman’s wrong­do­ing in Sep­tem­ber of 2015 by a unan­i­mous Pub­lic Dis­clo­sure Com­mis­sion, whose staff spent two and a half years inves­ti­gat­ing alle­ga­tions that Eyman was ille­gal­ly using mon­ey from one ini­tia­tive (I‑1185) to qual­i­fy anoth­er (I‑517) while also fail­ing to meet required report­ing dead­lines that are in place to per­mit the pub­lic to fol­low the mon­ey.

PDC staff con­clud­ed Eyman broke the law and rec­om­mend­ed that the case be giv­en to Fer­gu­son’s office, as the PDC can­not impose fines of more than ten thou­sand dol­lars. Fer­gu­son’s inves­ti­ga­tion was delayed repeat­ed­ly by Eyman’s refusal to coop­er­ate. State attor­neys ulti­mate­ly had to go to court last sum­mer in an effort to get the state’s law­ful­ly-issued sub­poe­nas enforced.

Judges in two dif­fer­ent coun­ties ordered Eyman and his asso­ciates to pro­vide access to doc­u­ments request­ed by the AG’s inves­ti­ga­tors, which they grudg­ing­ly agreed to do after Fer­gu­son’s team asked that Eyman be held in con­tempt.

The inves­ti­ga­tion resumed and was recent­ly wrapped up after the state deposed Eyman. Now that charges have been filed in Thurston Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court, Eyman and his attor­ney Mark Lamb will have twen­ty days to respond.

Following the Money

Fer­gu­son’s law­suit makes the fol­low­ing alle­ga­tions:

  • Eyman con­cealed the $308,185 pay­ment from Cit­i­zen Solu­tions. If the judge finds this to be inten­tion­al, that penal­ty could total $924,555.
  • Eyman con­cealed the true source of $182,000 in in-kind con­tri­bu­tions to Pro­tect Your Right to Vote on Ini­tia­tives [I‑517 cam­paign com­mit­tee]. If the judge finds this to be inten­tion­al, that penal­ty could total $546,000.
  • Eyman spent cam­paign funds for per­son­al use through at least five pay­ments to Cit­i­zens in Charge, with a penal­ty up to $10,000 per pay­ment. If the judge finds this to be inten­tion­al, that penal­ty could total $150,000.
  • Eyman caused VWMC [Vot­ers Want More Choic­es; what he calls his ini­tia­tive fac­to­ry] to file three inac­cu­rate or mis­lead­ing reports relat­ed to its pay­ments to Cit­i­zen Solu­tions, with a penal­ty up to $10,000 per report. If the judge finds this to be inten­tion­al, that penal­ty could total $90,000.
  • Eyman caused Pro­tect Your Right to Vote on Ini­tia­tives to file five inac­cu­rate and mis­lead­ing reports relat­ed to con­tri­bu­tions it attrib­uted to Cit­i­zens in Charge, with a penal­ty up to $10,000 per report. If the judge finds this to be inten­tion­al, that penal­ty could total $150,000.
  • Cit­i­zen Solu­tions and one of its prin­ci­pal, William Agazarm, con­cealed the $308,185 pay­ment to Eyman. If the judge finds this to be inten­tion­al, that penal­ty could total $924,555.

Today’s law­suit is in addi­tion to three suits Fer­gu­son filed last year against Eyman, which were prompt­ed by cit­i­zen action notices filed by NPI part­ner Wash­ing­to­ni­ans For Eth­i­cal Gov­ern­ment and Keep Wash­ing­ton Rolling.

There are now four active law­suits against Tim Eyman, his com­mit­tees, and his asso­ciates by the State of Wash­ing­ton.

We’ve pub­lished a state­ment thank­ing the Attor­ney Gen­er­al for tak­ing this action over at Per­ma­nent Defense. It has been a long time com­ing.

We have sus­pect­ed for over a decade that Tim Eyman was receiv­ing kick­backs from Cit­i­zen Solu­tions — and thus dou­ble dip­ping into his cam­paign funds for his per­son­al ben­e­fit, but could­n’t prove it. Now we have the proof, thanks to this inves­ti­ga­tion. (Eyman has open­ly paid him­self a salary out of his dona­tions since he was caught lying about pock­et­ing con­tri­bu­tions for him­self back in 2002.)

With the help of his lawyer Mark Lamb, Tim Eyman tried might­i­ly to post­pone this day of reck­on­ing and buy him­self more time to per­suade his wealthy bene­fac­tors to turn the mon­ey spig­ot to his ini­tia­tive fac­to­ry turned back on.

But he could not fore­stall Fer­gu­son’s team for­ev­er. Now he has a fourth law­suit to defend him­self against. Mean­while, he has failed to get the bene­fac­tors to open their check­books. He failed to make the bal­lot at all last year, and it appears he’ll fail again to make the bal­lot this year, which would be unprece­dent­ed (Eyman has had some­thing on the bal­lot at least every oth­er year going back to 1999).

We will be track­ing this law­suit and the three pre­vi­ous­ly filed very close­ly, and will pro­vide updates on any devel­op­ments with each here on the Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate.

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