Tim Eyman frowns
Tim Eyman frowns at a press conference in Olympia (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Ten days ago, Tim Eyman’s lat­est scheme to wreck gov­ern­ment and sab­o­tage Wash­ing­ton State’s essen­tial pub­lic ser­vices end­ed in fail­ure when Eyman and his cohorts could­n’t come up with enough sig­na­tures to qual­i­fy I‑1648, Eyman’s mea­sure to blow up the 2019–2021 state bud­get and slap a one year expi­ra­tion date on all future rev­enue reform bills passed by the Legislature.

A frustrated Tim Eyman rubs his eyes
An unhap­py Tim Eyman was flanked by glum fol­low­ers at the Sec­re­tary of State’s Elec­tions Annex in Olympia. (Pho­to: Sher­ry Bock­winkel for NPI).

With­in forty-eight hours of admit­ting I‑1648 would not qual­i­fy in front of the Sec­re­tary of State’s Elec­tions Annex in Olympia, Eyman had already moved on and begun elec­tron­i­cal­ly dis­trib­ut­ing peti­tions for I‑1082, a clone of I‑1648, which Eyman wants to qual­i­fy as an ini­tia­tive to the 2020 Wash­ing­ton State Legislature.

Because ini­tia­tives are Eyman’s busi­ness, he must always have a scheme to sell… it keeps the hus­tle going. So it was not at all sur­pris­ing when Eyman sent out an email exhort­ing his fol­low­ers to give mon­ey and cir­cu­late peti­tions for I‑1082, even though I‑1648 had just crashed and burned only hours earlier.

Eyman may have thought that by piv­ot­ing quick­ly, he could avoid squan­der­ing momen­tum. But the peo­ple behind the “Lib­er­ty State” polit­i­cal action com­mit­tee, chiefly Mike McK­ee and Cary Con­dot­ta (a for­mer Repub­li­can state leg­is­la­tor), were not enam­ored with the prospect of con­tin­u­ing to part­ner with Eyman.

So they began putting togeth­er a plan to strike out on their own.

In a series of mes­sage post­ed to their group, they explained that LSPAC had decid­ed to back I‑1648 some­what reluc­tant­ly, and have now decid­ed to go in a new direc­tion. The last of these mes­sages was pub­lished yesterday:

Restore Wash­ing­ton is now official.

The mis­sion is to cre­ate a large orga­nized net­work of folks to keep Olympia in check through the ini­tia­tive and ref­er­en­dum process – “Leg­is­la­tion by the Peo­ple, for the Peo­ple” The key fea­ture is hav­ing a qual­i­ty prod­uct that will stand up to chal­lenge. Over the years a lot of hard work has gone into prod­ucts that were sub­se­quent­ly tossed out. That said, these poli­cies don’t have to come from us.

They just have to be ful­ly vet­ted by our amazing team of top lawyers and polit­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als that have offered to help. That way the efforts pay off and con­fi­dence is restored in the process. The right orga­ni­za­tion can do this in a time­ly man­ner for very low cost. We actu­al­ly want to win. We also appre­ci­ate the broad band of sup­port across the polit­i­cal spec­trum and wish to keep it that way.

As stat­ed before, more than one top con­sti­tu­tion­al attor­ney warned us that [Eyman’s] 1648 had issues. A por­tion of that quote is here.

“The chance that the court will find it an uncon­sti­tu­tion­al attempt to amend the con­sti­tu­tion by a statute rather than an amend­ment as required by the con­sti­tu­tion is 99.9999999%. The con­sti­tu­tion does not put term lim­its on the tax­ing pow­er so a statute that does attempts to lim­it a con­sti­tu­tion­al authority.”

That is only part of the issue but that’s enough to con­sid­er anoth­er alter­na­tive. The new ver­sion is the same and we do not intend to impede any­one from sup­port­ing it. As most of you know qual­i­fy­ing an ini­tia­tive is a huge amount of work, time com­mit­ment and expense. Our deci­sion to “do it right” will take some time.

We feel that we need to have a prod­uct that has the best chance of sur­viv­ing the inevitable court chal­lenge that will follow.


Mike McK­ee and Cary Condotta

Take a moment to appre­ci­ate the irony here. A group of peo­ple who wants to break Wash­ing­ton State apart have rebrand­ed their Face­book group as “Restore Wash­ing­ton”. A rad­i­cal seces­sion move­ment is not an effort to restore anything.

Also note the implic­it and explic­it crit­i­cism of Eyman’s ini­tia­tive fac­to­ry. Eyman is nev­er men­tioned by name, but this mes­sage makes it clear that McK­ee and Con­dot­ta real­ly don’t think much of Eyman’s ini­tia­tive craft­ing abilities.

Their cyn­i­cism is whol­ly jus­ti­fied: pret­ty much every mea­sure Eyman has got­ten past the vot­ers has been struck down in whole or in part as unconstitutional.

McK­ee and Con­dot­ta’s announce­ment was praised by many group members.

“What is it our dads taught us all: ‘If you’re going to do some­thing, do it right.’ Thank you, Cary and Mike for Doing it Right,” com­ment­ed John Carl­son, the KVI host, for­mer guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­date, and Wash­ing­ton Pol­i­cy Cen­ter founder who had backed I‑1648 on his radio pro­gram and reg­u­lar­ly has Eyman on as a guest.

A fum­ing Eyman wast­ed no time in lash­ing out in an email broadside.

“My for­mer team­mates and their Face­book group (Wash­ing­ton for I‑1648 renamed Restore Wash­ing­ton) are promis­ing their own tax ini­tia­tive some time in the future,” wrote Eyman. “Unfor­tu­nate­ly, they’re tak­ing a dif­fer­ent approach. Their Face­book group will not allow com­ments or posts that sup­port I‑1082 or work­ing togeth­er on both. I was removed and I am not per­mit­ted to post or com­ment there and my pre­vi­ous posts have been erased.”

It’s cer­tain­ly amus­ing that Eyman con­tin­ues to act as though peo­ple are sim­ply unfa­mil­iar with his lengthy record of lying, cheat­ing, and trick­ing people.

Even after twen­ty years of duplic­i­ty, Eyman still presents him­self as an hon­est-to-good­ness cru­sad­er for ordi­nary peo­ple with every fundrais­ing appeal.

In real­i­ty, Eyman is a grifter.

He is con­stant­ly try­ing to con­vince peo­ple that it would be in their best inter­est for them to give him more of their time and mon­ey. (But espe­cial­ly their money.)

Eyman’s ini­tia­tives are mar­ket­ed like a mir­a­cle prod­uct to angry right wingers. Peo­ple are told that what­ev­er Eyman’s lat­est ini­tia­tive is will, for instance, “put a leash” on “those dirty dog politi­cians”. The effi­ca­cy of the prod­uct is total­ly irrel­e­vant, of course… it is their mon­ey Eyman is after. Eyman nev­er stops ask­ing for mon­ey; all of his emails end with a plea to make a con­tri­bu­tion immediately.

Some polit­i­cal observers have the­o­rized that Eyman’s ini­tia­tives are inten­tion­al­ly defec­tive so as to ensure that Eyman can keep his lucra­tive hus­tle going indef­i­nite­ly. Whether or not that the­o­ry is true, it is cer­tain­ly the case that Eyman does not both­er to draft his ini­tia­tives con­ser­v­a­tive­ly, which is not the behav­ior you’d expect from some­one want­i­ng their work to with­stand a legal challenge.

It is under­stand­able that the “Lib­er­ty State” folks are dis­sat­is­fied. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of NPI went down to Olympia on July 5th to observe the turn-in ral­ly that Eyman had spent days breath­less­ly adver­tis­ing, and they wit­nessed more of the same duplic­i­ty and lack of trans­paren­cy that Eyman has become infa­mous for.

Instead of bring­ing out the peti­tions that he had in his pos­ses­sion for every­one to see, Eyman kept them out of sight, appar­ent­ly locked in this trailer:

Truck with undisclosed number of I-1648 petitions inside
Peti­tions for I‑1648 were nev­er brought out of the trail­er attached to this pick­up truck. (Pho­to: Sher­ry Bock­winkel for NPI)

Instead of clu­ing in every­one as to how the sig­na­ture dri­ve had turned out, Eyman kept mum until some of the vol­un­teers demand­ed a num­ber, nat­u­ral­ly want­i­ng more infor­ma­tion. (Eyman then claimed just under 200,000 sig­na­tures had been col­lect­ed, a fig­ure that can­not be ver­i­fied and may well be total­ly baseless.)

And instead of pro­vid­ing a time­ly dec­la­ra­tion that I‑1648 had failed, Eyman kept his fans in sus­pense. He slipped around to the back of the Sec­re­tary of State’s Elec­tions Annex and went inside by him­self, pre­sum­ably to can­cel the appoint­ment he had made to turn in sig­na­tures for I‑1648. (The Elec­tions Divi­sion had need­less­ly brought in tem­po­rary work­ers in antic­i­pa­tion of hav­ing I‑1648 peti­tions to process, but had to send the work­ers home because Eyman turned noth­ing in.)

Before LSPAC embraced I‑1648, it was­n’t going any­where. From what we can tell, Eyman had con­clud­ed that he need­ed some­thing fresh­er than I‑976 (which is on the bal­lot this Novem­ber and would gut tran­sit fund­ing at every lev­el) to use as fod­der for his end­less fundrais­ing emails. So he com­mis­sioned the design of a peti­tion for I‑1648 and began dis­trib­ut­ing peti­tions elec­tron­i­cal­ly, just like he did for I‑1421 and I‑869 in 2016, I‑1550 and I‑947 in 2017, and I‑977 in 2018.

Once LSPAC decid­ed to back I‑1648, though, Eyman had some mus­cle to work with. He became wild­ly excit­ed with the thought of qual­i­fy­ing some­thing to the bal­lot with just vol­un­teers, and began pitch­ing I‑1648 with greater vig­or, seem­ing­ly try­ing to will suc­cess into existence.

But the cha­rade could not go on past July 5th.

Prayers weren't enough to qualify I-1648
Prayers could­n’t get I‑1648 past the fin­ish line (Pho­to: Sher­ry Bock­winkel for NPI)

When the time came to put up or shut up, Eyman did nei­ther. Instead, as men­tioned, he piv­ot­ed imme­di­ate­ly to hawk­ing a brand new ini­tia­tive… I‑1082, a clone of I‑1648, declar­ing that I‑1648’s fail­ure was mere­ly a hiccup.

LSPAC’s offi­cers feel dif­fer­ent­ly, and have opt­ed to do their own “Round 2”.

They clear­ly rec­og­nize Eyman as a rival (hence his removal from their Face­book group) and Eyman in turn also rec­og­nizes them as a rival despite his lament that they ought to be work­ing togeth­er for the greater evil. (I can’t say the greater good here because none of these peo­ple are up to any good.)

Like the old adage goes, ye reap what ye sow. Tim Eyman is unwor­thy of any­one’s trust. Can’t blame the folks at LSPAC for decid­ing they don’t want their hors­es pulling Eyman’s cart any­more. What­ev­er they come up them­selves won’t have Eyman’s name on it, but it won’t be good for Wash­ing­ton State, and Per­ma­nent Defense will be ready to ensure it is opposed, like we do with Eyman’s measures.

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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