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

Ser­i­al pub­lic dis­clo­sure law offend­er Tim Eyman has reg­is­tered with the Pub­lic Dis­clo­sure Com­mis­sion to run for Gov­er­nor of Wash­ing­ton State as an inde­pen­dent, vio­lat­ing (once again!) the very laws the Com­mis­sion is charged with enforc­ing on behalf of the peo­ple of Amer­i­ca’s forty-third state.

Eyman’s C1 (can­di­date reg­is­tra­tion state­ment) is one of two bits of paper­work he is required to file with the state’s cam­paign finance agency with­in two weeks of becom­ing a can­di­date. The oth­er is his F1 — Per­son­al Finan­cial Affairs Statement.

Eyman claimed today at a media event he called in Olympia at the Sec­re­tary of State’s office that he has­n’t put his F1 togeth­er yet because his bank­rupt­cy attor­neys at Vort­man & Fein­stein are out of town for the Thanks­giv­ing holiday.

On his can­di­date reg­is­tra­tion state­ment, on his cam­paign web­site, and in pro­mo­tion­al emails, Eyman has cho­sen to call his uncon­ven­tion­al guber­na­to­r­i­al bid “Gov­er­nor Tim Eyman for Wash­ing­ton,” which is ille­gal, because it implies that Eyman is the incum­bent gov­er­nor, when in fact he is not (Jay Inslee is).

RCW 42.17A.335(1)(b) explic­it­ly for­bids such conduct:

(1) It is a vio­la­tion of this chap­ter for a per­son to spon­sor with actu­al mal­ice a state­ment con­sti­tut­ing libel or defama­tion per se under the fol­low­ing circumstances:

(a) Polit­i­cal adver­tis­ing or an elec­tion­eer­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion that con­tains a false state­ment of mate­r­i­al fact about a can­di­date for pub­lic office;

(b) Polit­i­cal adver­tis­ing or an elec­tion­eer­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion that false­ly rep­re­sents that a can­di­date is the incum­bent for the office sought when in fact the can­di­date is not the incumbent;

The PDC’s polit­i­cal adver­tis­ing guide, which is eas­i­ly acces­si­ble, warns can­di­dates not to do what Eyman is doing. “Do not false­ly imply incum­ben­cy in a polit­i­cal adver­tise­ment about a can­di­date who does not hold the office,” it admonishes.

Exam­ples of cor­rect syn­tax for a chal­lenger’s cam­paign are “John Smith for Gov­er­nor” or “Suzie Q. Pub­lic for Sec­re­tary of State”. Alter­na­tive­ly: “Elect Michael Rogers Trea­sur­er.” The can­di­date’s name needs to comes first, as opposed to the title of the office, because putting the title first implies incumbency.

Respon­si­ble can­di­dates cam­paign respon­si­bly with­in the bounds of the law. Mas­querad­ing as an incum­bent in cam­paign adver­tis­ing is a big no-no.

Eyman, of course, does not care. He has been vio­lat­ing RCW Chap­ter 42.17A (our body of pub­lic dis­clo­sure laws) with impuni­ty for years. What’s more, he has so far suc­cess­ful­ly evad­ed hav­ing to pay a penal­ty for doing so. He may not be able to hold off Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son for­ev­er, but he’s cer­tain­ly trying.

Unlike the land­mark case Fer­gu­son has going against Eyman in Thurston Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court, which is com­plex and con­cerns a mul­ti-year kick­back and con­ceal­ment scheme, this is a fair­ly straight­for­ward case of wrongdoing.

Wash­ing­to­ni­ans For Eth­i­cal Gov­ern­ment (WFEG) — which I cofound­ed to hold uneth­i­cal polit­i­cal fig­ures like Eyman account­able for their wrong­do­ing with Sher­ry Bock­winkel and Knoll Lowney — is push­ing for a prompt investigation.

To secure one, we filed a com­plaint with the Pub­lic Dis­clo­sure Com­mis­sion this after­noon alleg­ing that Eyman is in vio­la­tion of the afore­men­tioned RCW.

“The PDC must act swift­ly to dis­ci­pline Tim Eyman for this vio­la­tion of our laws,” our com­plaint states in its con­clud­ing para­graph, observ­ing: “Past com­plaints against Eyman have tak­en years to inves­ti­gate. This com­plaint must be inves­ti­gat­ed imme­di­ate­ly. Eyman, a ser­i­al offend­er, will ben­e­fit from any delay in address­ing this vio­la­tion of our pub­lic dis­clo­sure laws.”

Eyman will make his uncon­ven­tion­al guber­na­to­r­i­al bid as an inde­pen­dent instead of as a Repub­li­can or Lib­er­tar­i­an. He told the gag­gle of reporters gath­ered at the Sec­re­tary of State’s office to hear his mono­logue that he con­tem­plat­ed affil­i­at­ing with a polit­i­cal par­ty, but decid­ed against doing so.

Eyman has named Dave Hob­ley as his cam­paign man­ag­er, Michele Dar­nell as his vol­un­teer coor­di­na­tor, and Sarah Eck­ert as his Treasurer.

Eck­ert han­dles the books for Eyman’s ini­tia­tive fac­to­ry in a min­is­te­r­i­al capac­i­ty and Dar­nell occa­sion­al­ly accom­pa­nies Eyman to speak­ing appearances.

Dar­nell has pre­vi­ous­ly run for state lev­el office her­self sev­er­al times as a Lib­er­tar­i­an, los­ing repeat­ed­ly to well regard­ed Democ­rats like Pat­ty Kuderer.

Sev­er­al Repub­li­cans are already express­ing annoy­ance with Eyman over his long­shot guber­na­to­r­i­al bid, includ­ing Phil For­tu­na­to, an arch­con­ser­v­a­tive Repub­li­can state sen­a­tor who is a can­di­date for gov­er­nor himself.

“This is a seri­ous thing,” For­tu­na­to remarked.

“Repub­li­cans have a win­dow of oppor­tu­ni­ty this year… His enter­ing into the race, espe­cial­ly as an inde­pen­dent, makes the thing a circus.”

State and nation­al pol­i­tics were arguably already a cir­cus, but we can under­stand For­tu­na­to’s annoy­ance. If it makes him feel any bet­ter, he should know that Eyman’s guber­na­to­r­i­al bid faces steep odds. Eyman is an unpop­u­lar, divi­sive fig­ure, and no inde­pen­dent has ever been elect­ed as Gov­er­nor of Wash­ing­ton State.

Except for the state’s third gov­er­nor, John Rankin Rogers, every sin­gle per­son pre­vi­ous­ly elect­ed to the state’s high­est office has been elect­ed with the sup­port of either the Demo­c­ra­t­ic or the Repub­li­can Par­ty going back to state­hood. Rogers was ini­tial­ly elect­ed with the sup­port of the Peo­ple’s Par­ty, but then switched his par­ty affil­i­a­tion to Demo­c­ra­t­ic (and was reelect­ed with Demo­c­ra­t­ic support.)

Repub­li­cans, how­ev­er, haven’t won a guber­na­to­r­i­al race in a while.

The last time a non-Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date was elect­ed Gov­er­nor of Wash­ing­ton was in 1980, when Repub­li­can John Spell­man sought the state’s top job.

That was almost forty years ago.

The Wash­ing­ton State Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty boasts the longest active streak of con­sec­u­tive guber­na­to­r­i­al wins in the coun­try, with nine: 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016.

The par­ty hopes to make it ten next year with Inslee, who is seek­ing a third term.

Eyman has made no secret of his dis­like for Inslee, although it’s hard to tell who he dis­likes more: Inslee or Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son. Both are fre­quent tar­gets of his trash talk. Eyman also despis­es King Coun­ty Exec­u­tive Dow Con­stan­tine and every­one who is an elect­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the City of Seattle.

Eyman has sig­naled he will run on a plat­form of Seat­tle-bash­ing. Repub­li­cans have tried doing that for sev­er­al years now in key races, like the spe­cial elec­tion in the 45th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict two years ago. It has not yield­ed favor­able results.

Despite claim­ing to have an opin­ion on every issue imag­in­able, Eyman demurred when asked by reporters about his posi­tions on top­ics like the abo­li­tion of Wash­ing­ton’s death penal­ty, a cause NPI emphat­i­cal­ly sup­ports and has advo­cat­ed for. Eyman was repeat­ed­ly invit­ed to share his views on abo­li­tion and refused, although he crit­i­cized Inslee for impos­ing a mora­to­ri­um on exe­cu­tions and hint­ed he would­n’t sup­port elim­i­nat­ing the state’s death penal­ty statute, which the Supreme Court struck down as uncon­sti­tu­tion­al but which remains on the books.

Vot­ers will decide who should serve as Gov­er­nor through 2024 in a lit­tle less than a year. The Novem­ber 2020 gen­er­al elec­tion will be pre­ced­ed by Fil­ing Week (in May of 2020) and the Top Two elim­i­na­tion elec­tion (in August of 2020).

Eyman’s can­di­da­cy will be at an end if he does not secure one of the top two spots in the elim­i­na­tion elec­tion. The tri­al in the cam­paign finance enforce­ment law­suit Eyman is embroiled in is present­ly sched­uled for the pre­vi­ous month (July), which could severe­ly com­pli­cate Eyman’s abil­i­ty to cam­paign in the home stretch.

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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3 replies on “Tim Eyman formally files to run for governor; WFEG files new PDC complaint against him”

  1. Eyman must have been so hap­py when the Elec­toral Col­lege put Trump in. If a con man like Trump could get elect­ed to the high­est office in the land, then a no-good grifter like Eyman ough­ta be elec­table as gov­er­nor, right? We bet­ter make sure it does­n’t happen. 

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