A few months ago, I made the observation here on the Cascadia Advocate that with his initiative factory idle, Tim Eyman was turning into a full time lobbyist and unabashed cheerleader for the Senate Republican caucus.
It would seem this transformation is about complete, judging by the contents of Eyman’s recent electronic missives, which he sends about twice a week.
Eyman has always had a relationship with the Republican Party, but I don’t think it’s ever been this tight before. In the past, Eyman has felt free to criticize Republicans when warranted, especially when Republican legislators or elected officials strayed from Eyman’s agenda. Only two years ago, Eyman was vociferously criticizing Senate Republicans for trying to raise Washingtonians’ property taxes.
This year, Republicans are trying to do the same thing, but Eyman hasn’t said so much as a word against them. Instead, he’s given Democratic leaders — from Governor Jay Inslee to House Speaker Frank Chopp to Democratic senatorial candidate Manka Dhingra — a double helping of his scorn.
At this point, it appears Republican legislators in Washington State have achieved sainthood with Tim Eyman. They can do no wrong.
Senate Republicans are seeking to raise the property taxes of most Washingtonians at this very moment, but that is no longer blasphemy in Eyman’s book. They’re getting a pass. Meanwhile, Democrats are being attacked for wanting to raise taxes — including (and, no, I’m not making this up) — property taxes.
“There are lots of things to dislike about Democrats,” Eyman wrote in a June 15th email. “They love to micromanage what we eat and drink. They police every spoken word to find offense. They lecture, they condescend. But what is truly infuriating about Democrats is their arrogant refusal to accept the voters’ verdict on taxes.”
I couldn’t stop laughing after I read that.
Voters in Puget Sound last year voted overwhelmingly to pass Sound Transit 3, and Tim Eyman has whined and griped constantly about that result ever since.
Why won’t Tim accept the will of the voters? Why won’t he abide by the voters’ verdict on these taxes? Answer: Because the vote didn’t go his way.
Eyman believes his opposition — namely, Democrats — should have to operate by a different set of rules than his own party. We have a term for that in the netroots community. It’s called the IOKIYAR principle (It’s Okay If You’re A Republican).
Eyman demonstrated he is now an adherent of the IOKIYAR principle in a subsequent paragraph in that very same June 15th email:
At a time when car tab taxes are skyrocketing, Democrats demand more. When property taxes are taxing struggling working families out of their homes, Democrats push for more.
It takes some nerve to blast your opposition over something your own party is trying to do. We know Eyman isn’t ignorant of what’s in the Senate Republican budget. He’s commented on it. Praised it. So we know he’s okay with it.
But heaven forbid Democratic legislators listen to what the majority of Washington voters are saying and advocate for a budget that amply funds our schools as our cherished state Constitution requires, whether through a capital gains tax, pollution tax, or other revenue source that doesn’t exacerbate our upside down tax code.
This week, Eyman took things even further, blaming Democrats (and only Democrats) for the lack of progress finalizing a budget that can pass both houses of the Legislature, declaring, “The Democrats are going nuclear this session. Why? Because any success will show that divided government works.”
Not one to restrain himself, Eyman didn’t stop there.
“[T]he [Senate Republicans’] legislative success has infuriated the crazies on the left to the point that Speaker Frank Chopp can’t restrain them any more. The prisoners have taken over the insane asylum. In the Democrats’ House and Senate caucuses, it’s bedlam, it’s chaos. None of the crazies are willing to agree to anything.”
I’m not sure why, but for some reason, reading Eyman’s false and nonsensical characterization of the dynamic in Olympia reminded me of that time that ex-Fox Noise host Bill O’Reilly threw a tantrum and called the netroots community Satanists on his program. A commenter on Think Progress promptly retorted:
So, Bill thinks we worship the devil… and Coulter says we are godless.
I’m so confused.
Well, at least the right wing is there to tell me how to think.
The real reason we don’t have a budget yet is because Senate Republicans have refused to negotiate a go-home agreement with House Democrats and Governor Inslee, not because Democratic legislators are quarreling with each other.
Republicans have deliberately chosen to waste time and run out the clock, figuring that a game of chicken will serve their interests. Divided government has once again brought us to the precipice of a government shutdown for the second biennium in a row. That’s pretty damning evidence that divided government isn’t working.
If Senate Republicans were the minority party, it’s reasonable to believe the Legislature would have already gone home for the year. We’d have a budget.
In the event Senate Republicans (or just some of them) were to agree to a pollution tax as part of a final budget deal — something Eyman seems afraid of, considering what he said today — I wonder how he would react.
Would he maintain his new Republicans-can-do-no-wrong stance and find a way to justify their actions, or would he break with the Republicans and give them flak for voting to raise revenue? (A majority of Washingtonians want the Legislature to raise revenue to ensure our kids are getting the amply funded education they deserve.)
Although Eyman won’t be on the ballot this year (it’s the first time in twenty years that Washington voters will enjoy consecutive Eyman-free general elections), he is still urging people to give him money to qualify an initiative with every email he sends — which I find downright dishonest.
Considering that he’s using the money he’s presently raising from his remaining donors to pay expenses that are associated with lobbying (including travel) he really should be registered as a lobbyist with the Public Disclosure Commission.
But of course he’s not.
Money, by the way, isn’t the only thing Eyman regularly asks of the small circle of people that’s inexplicably stuck by him. Though Eyman’s missives usually begin with an attack on Democrats, they then proceed to pleas to send a canned message to all one hundred and forty-seven legislators.
These pleas typically consist of exhortations like this:
It’s critical that each and every one of us communicates with Olympia’s legislators RIGHT NOW. I ask you — RIGHT NOW — to email this, or something like this to ALL legislators.
Do understand that by Olympia’s legislators, Eyman means Washington’s legislators. Olympia’s legislators are the people who represent Olympia in the Legislature, namely Democrats Sam Hunt, Laurie Dolan, and Beth Doglio. But when Eyman asks his followers to email legislators, he really does mean “all legislators”, as in all ninety-eight members of the House and all forty-nine members of the Senate, not merely their own representatives or legislators from a particular locale such as Olympia.
Many email providers limit the number of recipients that can be included on a single message or that can be sent to in a fixed period of time, so it’s quite possible that some of Eyman’s followers are finding it hard to follow his instructions.
Testifying in front of committees or whole legislative bodies is the other component of Eyman’s lobbying, and as mentioned, the travel he regularly undertakes in order to speak in person for or against state bills and local ordinances is being financed through donations that are supposed to be for qualifying initiatives.
If you look at Eyman’s most recent PDC reports, you’ll see under the expenditures tab that Eyman and his associates are mostly paying back themselves for travel expenses, telephone expenses, data entry expenses, even newspaper subscriptions.
These are the largest expenses of the $17,986.78 in expenditures reported by the latest incarnation of Eyman’s Voters Want More Choices committee this year:
|Report||EYMAN TIM||5/10/2017||$3,034.50||REIMBURSEMENT FOR COPIES, NEWSPAPERS, AND OFFICE SUPPLIES|
|Report||EYMAN TIM||5/10/2017||$2,531.93||REIMBURSEMENT FOR TRAVEL AND FUND RAISING|
|Report||DATABAR||4/24/2017||$1,872.10||POSTAGE AND MAILINGS|
|Report||FAGAN JANET||1/18/2017||$1,560.00||DATA ENTRY|
|Report||EYMAN TIM||5/10/2017||$800.00||REIMBURSEMENT FOR TELEPHONE, FAX, AND INTERNET|
|Report||FAGAN JANET||4/14/2017||$795.00||DATA ENTRY|
|Report||FAGAN JANET||5/25/2017||$675.00||DATA ENTRY|
|Report||FAGAN JANET||3/16/2017||$585.00||DATA ENTRY|
|Report||FAGAN JANET||2/23/2017||$570.00||DATA ENTRY|
|Report||FAGAN JACK||4/19/2017||$400.53||REIMBURSEMENT FOR TELEPHONE, FAX, AND INTERNET|
|Report||FAGAN MIKE||2/8/2017||$340.69||REIMBURSEMENT OF OFFICE SUPPLIES|
|Report||FAGAN JACK||3/16/2017||$292.82||REIMBURSEMENT FOR SECURITY FOR INITIATIVES|
Notice that Verizon and Databar are the only vendors on this list. The rest of the payments are either reimbursements to Eyman and the Fagans (his associates) or to compensate Janet Fagan for data entry. The list of reimbursements is actually longer than this; the above is only what shows on page 1 of the expenses tab.