Disgraced initiative promoter and serial lawbreaker Tim Eyman was hit with what he called “a gut punch” this morning when Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon denied his motion to prevent the State of Washington from continuing to seek injunctive relief permanently barring him from managing or controlling the finances of a political committee.
It’s the latest chapter in a saga that stretches back seven years, when this organization and other Eyman foes suspected that Eyman was using money raised for one initiative (I‑1185) to qualify a second, unrelated initiative (I‑517).
A complaint over Eyman’s illegal behavior led to a multiyear investigation by the Public Disclosure Commission, which was then transferred to Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office. In March of 2017, the investigation became a campaign finance action in Thurston County Superior Court, with Ferguson announcing he would seek to put an end to Eyman’s endless self-serving financial schemes.
Dixon’s decision preserves the status quo, leaving Bob Ferguson’s original Prayer for Relief unchanged. (In law, the Prayer for Relief is the portion of a complaint that spells out what the plaintiff would like the court to do.)
This is the part of the Prayer for Relief Eyman wanted thrown out:
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff requests the following relief as provided by law: […] 6.3. For temporary and permanent injunctive relief, as authorized by RCW 42.17A.750(1)(h), including but not limited to barring Defendant Eyman from managing, controlling, negotiating, or directing financial transactions of any kind for any political committee in the future;
Eyman contends that money is speech and that therefore, he cannot be prohibited from controlling the finances of a political committee.
Believing himself to be on the verge of succeeding in significantly weakening the State’s case against him, Eyman had aggressively promoted the hearing, inviting his followers to attend and sending out the link to TVW’s planned video archive of the event to the press. He even compared the hearing to the Super Bowl.
By his own admission, Eyman had convinced himself that Dixon would rule in his favor, lamenting: “I couldn’t conceive of how this could not go my direction.”
Dixon stressed that he was only making a procedural ruling, not determining whether the State’s requested relief would actually be granted.
“This Court will not and cannot rule on what the Court might do in the event the court finds the state has carried its burden,” Dixon told Eyman from the bench.
Afterwards, outside the Thurston County Courthouse, a dejected Eyman recorded a short video letting his followers know that he had lost his motion.
There are still many months to go until the trial is scheduled to take place. It has been a little over two years since Ferguson filed State of Washington v. Tim Eyman; the case has dragged on at a snail’s pace due to Eyman’s stonewalling and refusal to comply with lawful discovery motions. Eyman has repeatedly been held in contempt for not turning over records sought by the State.
Eyman has tried what seems like every conceivable tactic to stall Ferguson’s lawsuit. He has ignored court orders to produce records and documents, repeatedly changed attorneys, and even filed for bankruptcy at the federal level to secure an automatic stay of proceedings. But Ferguson, who is a disciplined and patient lawman, has persisted in seeking to hold Eyman accountable.
Slowly but surely, state attorneys have been amassing the evidence needed to prove Ferguson’s allegations against Eyman, which stem from a complaint filed by Sherry Bockwinkel of Washingtonians For Ethical Government.
Some of that evidence was previewed in the State’s response to Eyman’s motion for partial summary judgment, including email communications between Eyman and associates which demonstrate that Eyman was illegally funneling money for both his personal use and campaign use through “Citizens in Charge”, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization controlled by his friend Paul Jacob.