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.

Monday, July 15th, 2019

Tim Eyman, “Liberty State” extremists no longer working together after I-1648 debacle

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.

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One Comment

  1. What ever happened to the shoplifting charge?

    # by Emily68 :: July 20th, 2019 at 4:47 PM