Tim Eyman with Mark Schoesler
Tim Eyman with Mark Schoesler

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:

ReportFAGAN JANET1/18/2017$1,560.00DATA ENTRY
ReportFAGAN JANET4/14/2017$795.00DATA ENTRY
ReportFAGAN JANET5/25/2017$675.00DATA ENTRY
ReportFAGAN JANET3/16/2017$585.00DATA ENTRY
ReportFAGAN JANET2/23/2017$570.00DATA ENTRY

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.

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, Republican lobbyist”

  1. Just remem­ber this is the same Tim Eyman who:

    a) Lacks the guts to run for elect­ed office

    b) Goes on Todd “Her­mite” Her­man’s show and calls our beloved Sound Tran­sit a “rogue” agency and “the worst gov­ern­ment we have” at 4:28 of http://kiroradio.com/listen/10006848/

    c) Does­n’t respect vot­ers FOR Sound Transit

    d) Is a char­ter card-car­ry­ing mem­ber of the IOKIYAR klub and there­fore a douchebag. Should get to cheer for his team the San­ta Clara Four­ty Whin­ers the Sea­Gals — yes, I said the Sea Gals — could whoop!

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