State of Washington v. Tim Eyman et al
State of Washington v. Tim Eyman et al

The price that dis­graced ini­tia­tive pro­mot­er Tim Eyman must pay for try­ing to evade account­abil­i­ty for his bla­tant and repeat­ed vio­la­tions of Wash­ing­ton’s vot­er-insti­gat­ed pub­lic dis­clo­sure laws keeps going up.

Thurston Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court Judge James Dixon today found Eyman and his now-defunct com­pa­ny “Watch­dog for Tax­pay­ers” in con­tempt for a sec­ond time, owing to Eyman’s will­ful fail­ure to com­ply with the court’s dis­cov­ery orders in the prin­ci­pal State of Wash­ing­ton v. Tim Eyman cam­paign finance enforce­ment case.

(Three oth­er con­sol­i­dat­ed cas­es against Eyman and his com­mit­tees recent­ly end­ed with a default judg­ment after Eyman neglect­ed to respond to them.)

Eyman was sup­posed to dis­close “com­plete infor­ma­tion relat­ed to hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars of pay­ments he solicit­ed from indi­vid­ual donors,” by Jan­u­ary 24th, 2019, but he failed to do so. He then blew off a sec­ond dead­line of May 31st imposed by Spe­cial Dis­cov­ery Mas­ter Gary Tabor, a retired judge.

Today’s con­tempt find­ing is in addi­tion to pre­vi­ous con­tempt find­ings for oth­er vio­la­tions. Last year, Eyman start­ed rack­ing up fines of $250 per day for fail­ing to pro­duce records. The fines were sub­se­quent­ly increased to $500 a day.

Because Eyman nev­er purged his pre­vi­ous con­tempt, he and/or his com­pa­ny have now been con­tin­u­ous­ly in con­tempt of court for mul­ti­ple dis­cov­ery vio­la­tions for five hun­dred and twen­ty-five days, accru­ing fines of $211,750.

That may sound like a lot of mon­ey, but from Eyman’s per­spec­tive, it is the regret­table cost of doing busi­ness giv­en the posi­tion he finds him­self in.

Judg­ing by his actions, Eyman is deeply per­turbed by the thought of more incrim­i­nat­ing emails, finan­cial state­ments, and oth­er records enter­ing the pub­lic domain. He has been try­ing to hold back as much as he can for as long as pos­si­ble, a legal defense strat­e­gy we’ve dubbed stonewalling in the extreme.

Going back to 2013, when the Pub­lic Dis­clo­sure Com­mis­sion first began inves­ti­gat­ing the com­plaint filed by Wash­ing­to­ni­ans For Eth­i­cal Gov­ern­men­t’s Sher­ry Bock­winkel, Eyman has dragged his feet in every way pos­si­ble, hop­ing to frus­trate the State from being able to uncov­er the truth.

It has­n’t worked.

We now have proof that Eyman broke our pub­lic dis­clo­sure laws and con­spired with his asso­ciates to arrange kick­backs for him­self. Eyman had a pret­ty good con going where he raised mon­ey for ini­tia­tives, used some of that mon­ey to pay him­self a salary, and then paid him­self even more through a kick­back scheme he arranged with his prin­ci­pal ven­dor, “Cit­i­zen Solutions”.

Years ago, our team at NPI, along with Civic Ven­tures’ David Gold­stein, sus­pect­ed that this arrange­ment exist­ed, but we did not have proof that it did.

Now we have that proof, thanks to State of Wash­ing­ton v. Tim Eyman.

It was not eas­i­ly obtained.

Eyman has found Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son to be just as deter­mined to hold Eyman account­able as Eyman is des­per­ate to evade respon­si­bil­i­ty for his law­break­ing. Fer­gu­son and the attor­neys cur­rent­ly han­dling the case — Assis­tant AGs Eric New­man, Todd Sipe, and Paul Crisal­li — have been undaunt­ed by Eyman’s nev­er-end­ing attempts to delay, obfus­cate, and withhold.

“Our cam­paign finance laws demand trans­paren­cy,” Fer­gu­son said in a state­ment sent to NPI and oth­er media out­lets. “Ignor­ing mul­ti­ple court orders and refus­ing to turn over doc­u­ments in order to avoid account­abil­i­ty is unacceptable.”

Eyman has repeat­ed­ly whined in pub­lic about the dura­tion of the case, accus­ing Fer­gu­son of per­se­cut­ing him. In real­i­ty, it is Eyman who is to blame for the pace of the case. The tri­al (now expect­ed to be held next sum­mer, about a year from now) would not have had to have been resched­uled repeat­ed­ly if Eyman was not stonewalling in the extreme and vio­lat­ing court dis­cov­ery orders.

In our view, the penal­ties ought to be high­er. $2,500 a day seems a lot more appro­pri­ate giv­en Eyman’s behav­ior than $500 or $250 a day.

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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