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.

Thursday, May 23rd, 2019

Court penalizes Tim Eyman and associates as state wins two successive default judgments

Disgraced initiative promoter Tim Eyman and his longtime associates have been found liable for violating Washington State’s public disclosure laws and must pay hefty fines to the people of the State of Washington, Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon determined in a pair of recent rulings.

In the first of the rulings, handed down on Friday, April 12th, 2019, Judge Dixon entered a default judgment against Eyman and several of his political committees for failing to respond to three related campaign finance enforcement lawsuits filed by Attorney General Bob Ferguson in September of 2016.

Judge Dixon individually penalized Tim Eyman $22,340, while four of his committees were penalized $2,910, $7,700, $6,640, and $5,090, respectively. Eyman was also ordered to pay $17,827.28 in reasonable attorneys’ fees plus $366.25 in court costs. The total penalty against Eyman comes to $40,533.53.

Judgment summary in consolidated Tougher To Raise Taxes campaign enforcement cases

In the second of the rulings, handed down on Friday, May 17th, 2019, Judge Dixon entered a default judgment against Tim Eyman’s associates Roy Ruffino and William Agazarm (and their company, “Citizen Solutions”) in a fourth campaign finance enforcement case filed by Ferguson in March of 2017.

Ruffino, Agazarm, and “Citizen Solutions” were held liable for violating Washington’s public disclosure laws after they “willfully and deliberately” failed to follow Dixon’s orders and court discovery rules. “Citizen Solutions” has now been in contempt of court for fifteen months running, accruing $175,000 in fines.

This fourth case is the one that’s drawn pretty much all of the media attention, as Ferguson is seeking a multi-million dollar fine against Eyman and an injunction barring him from being the sole decisionmaker of a political committee.

The three cases filed in September of 2016 predate the fourth case in a sense, because they became lawsuits first. However, if you consider the investigatory phase of the fourth case, it’s actually the oldest by a long shot. 

The violations the fourth case are all about were committed in 2012, when Tim Eyman duped the donors to one of his initiatives by telling them he needed more money than he really needed for a signature drive. Eyman pocketed a big chunk of the money he didn’t need through kickbacks from Citizen Solutions, and then illicitly financed a different initiative that his donors didn’t know about.

Eyman is still defending himself in this fourth case; a trial is supposed to be held next summer. While Eyman has used stonewalling in the extreme as his strategy for defending himself in the fourth case, Eyman did not bother to defend himself at all in the other three cases that Ferguson filed in September of 2016.

These cases — which were subsequently consolidated — were all prompted by complaints filed by Washingtonians For Ethical Government (WFEG) and Keep Washington Rolling (KWR), the coalition that works to protect Washington’s bipartisan transportation investments. NPI works with both WFEG and KWR to fight Eyman’s destructive initiatives and hold him accountable for his lawbreaking.

One of the complaints stemmed from NPI’s discovery that Eyman was running an illegal independent expenditure against Democratic legislators after they refused to capitulate to his demand that they support a constitutional amendment that would have sabotaged the majority vote threshold dating back to statehood.

(After the filing of that complaint, Eyman pulled the ads.)

The other complaints alleged that Eyman failed to execute written loan agreements for a set of loans that he arranged from himself and several of his wealthy benefactors to his political committees, and that Eyman’s committees failed to properly account for and report interest payments on those loans

On September 23rd, 2016, the complaints became the foundation of the three aforementioned lawsuits against Eyman and his associates. Ferguson amended one of the complaints a couple months later alleging even more violations uncovered by our team at NPI, which became the basis of another WFEG complaint.

On November 3rd, 2017, the cases were consolidated.

Tim Eyman never responded to the three consolidated cases, having apparently decided the best course of action would be to do nothing.

That choice might have saved Eyman some money on legal defense bills, but he will not get to escape liability for his lawbreaking, as Judge Dixon has now granted Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s motion for a default judgment.

The remaining defendants in the case (Eyman’s associates) will be dealt with separately, per Judge Dixon’s April 12th, 2019 ruling.

“The Court directs the entry of such judgment because there is no just reason for delay,” Dixon’s order declares. “The Court finds that the remaining issues that need to be decided as to the remaining defendants can easily be decided separately, and there is nothing that would prevent the entry of separate judgments as to those defendants. The Court finds that the interests of judicial economy weigh towards entering a final judgment as to these Defendants.”

It is extremely satisfying to know that our work to uncover Eyman’s illegal activities has resulted in significant penalties being assessed against Eyman and his associates. Eyman’s contempt for Washington’s public disclosure law is practically beyond compare. Over and over again, Eyman has brazenly flouted the law as though it simply didn’t apply to him. Now he and his pals must pay.

Because Eyman is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Ferguson has applied to U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Marc Barreca to collect the penalties Eyman has been ordered to pay to the people of the State of Washington.

On May 9th, 2019, Ferguson filed a complaint to determine the dischargeability of Eyman’s debt. The State says that Eyman’s bankruptcy does not exempt him from having to pay the penalties assessed by Thurston County Superior Court “because they are a liability for money or property obtained by false pretenses, false representation, or actual fraud” and because they are “a liability for money or property obtained by fraud or defalcation while acting in a fiduciary capacity.”

Complaint to determine dischargeability of debt

Ferguson is asking that Eyman’s debt to the State for civil penalties, attorney fees, and costs in the amount of $40,533.53 be adjudged non-dischargeable.

The State will also no doubt be seeking to collect from “Citizen Solutions” as a result of the default judgment that was entered against the firm this month.

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One Comment

  1. Congrats on this huge win. We needed a clear victory against Eyman and your team delivered!

    # by Joe Kunzler :: May 24th, 2019 at 7:28 PM