Associates of disgraced initiative promoter Tim Eyman have been ordered to pay the State of Washington more than a million dollars in penalties and court costs for their role in an illegal kickback scheme that funneled money into to Tim Eyman’s pockets, a Thurston County Superior Court judge decided yesterday.
Judge James Dixon signed off on an order penalizing Eyman’s co-defendants after having entered a default judgment against them earlier this year.
The co-defendants include William Agazarm of Bristol, Connecticut (the son in law of Eddie Agazarm, one of Eyman’s pals) and Citizen Solutions, LLC (the firm controlled by William Agazarm and Roy Ruffino, also one of Eyman’s pals.)
“This judgment reflects the serious and intentional violations of Washington’s campaign finance laws committed by Mr. Agazarm and Citizen Solutions,” said Attorney General Bob Ferguson in a statement.
“Mr. Agazarm and Citizen Solutions knowingly participated in a scheme to hide how contributions to Tim Eyman’s campaigns were really being used.”
The scheme — which was suspected by NPI and other Eyman opponents to exist long before it was proven in court by Ferguson — worked like this:
- Disgraced initiative promoter Tim Eyman would cook up an initiative for wrecking government in some way in Washington State, then find wealthy benefactors to pitch the scheme to, like the Association of Washington Business (AWB) and its affiliated trade organizations.
- Eyman would tell the benefactors that he needed a certain sum to qualify the scheme for the ballot. For example, he might claim to need $1 million, when in reality, he’d only need around half that for a signature drive.
- Upon receiving cash and/or commitments in support of the scheme, Eyman would hire his buddies at “Citizen Solutions” to conduct the signature drive.
- Eyman would then have Citizen Solutions secretly funnel funds back to him that weren’t actually needed to pay petitioners, in violation of the law.
Anyone looking at Eyman’s public disclosure reports would see that he was paying himself a salary out of campaign funds — a practice that began after Eyman was caught lying about taking money from his donors in 2002 — but not that he was double dipping by arranging for kickbacks from his chief vendor.
Eyman and his pals went to great lengths to conceal their kickback scheme.
“Eyman had Citizen Solutions’ owners divide his kickbacks among his wife, Karen, and their minor children, so none of the checks would be more than $13,000,” the Attorney General’s office noted in its news release detailing Judge Dixon’s finding. “According to Karen Eyman’s deposition, she and the children were unaware of the payments, even though the checks were made out to them.”
“Eyman wrote to one of the owners [Roy Ruffino]: ‘You generously gave me $9900 on September 22nd (and a nice bottle of champagne!!) so that leaves $35,100 for the rest of 2012 and still $39,000 for 2013. … I ask that you please schedule a few more lunches from now until December 31st so you can ‘max gift’ by the end of the year. You’re making great progress on this and I continue to be extremely grateful for your continued help on it.’ ”
“The Court finds that the Citizen Solutions Defendants not only knew the extent of Defendant Eyman’s scheme, but actively assisted with his violations, helping him mislead contributors into believing their contributions would go to support ballot initiatives, when in fact, they were benefiting Defendant Eyman personally,” Judge James Dixon wrote in his order approving $1 million in penalties.
“Crucially, the Citizen Solutions Defendants assisted Defendant Eyman in laundering payments purportedly for signature gathering, which were made after the signature gathering was completed and accepted by the Citizen Solutions Defendants solely to conceal that they were being funneled to Defendant Eyman.”Judgment against Citizen Solutions in State of Washington v. Tim Eyman
Here’s a breakdown of all the penalties approved by the court:
- Agazarm to pay $150,000 in civil penalties;
- Citizen Solutions, LLC to pay $150,000 in civil penalties;
- Agazarm and Citizen Solutions jointly to pay $117,500 in unpaid contempt sanctions; and
- Agazarm and Citzen Solutions to pay $622,255.67 in costs and fees.
Altogether, Tim Eyman’s co-defendants owe a total of $1,039,755 67.
Eyman has yet to be penalized for his role in the scheme.
This judgment has been a long time in coming.
Finally, justice is being served upon the people who enabled Tim Eyman to line his pockets at the expense of his donors, who were duped into overpaying for signatures to qualify destructive schemes to the Washington State ballot.
Now it’s time for Tim Eyman to face the music himself.