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.
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.
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.