Political scammer turned gubernatorial candidate Tim Eyman is at it again.
Demonstrating once more that he has little regard for his own health and well-being, or that of others around him, the Bellevue based initiative purveyor and right wing political operative staged a press conference and petition signing opportunity in front of the Factoria Walmart today, hoping to drum up publicity for his vanity gubernatorial run and new initiative to abolish ESSB 5395, the comprehensive sexual health education bill just signed by Governor Inslee.
It’s the second time in several weeks that Eyman has invited his followers to disregard Governor Jay Inslee’s physical distancing decrees, which are intended to keep Washingtonians safe and healthy. Inslee doesn’t want people catching the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV‑2, and requiring hospitalization, or worse — dying.
The first time was in March, when Eyman encouraged Republican PCOs and other right wing activists to join him for a meet and greet on Whidbey Island, promising to bring a six-pack of Corona beer. After being roundly condemned for that unsafe behavior, Eyman tried to strike a more serious tone.
But today, he was back to goofing off and making fun of the pandemic in the vicinity of other people, including his followers, passersby, and television camera crews who were assigned to cover Eyman’s hijinks.
Let me show you what I mean.
Eyman had with him at the Walmart a long blue tube — I presume six feet in length — ostensibly for measuring the distance between himself and people approaching the table where the petitions for Eyman’s initiative to repeal comprehensive sexual health education were laid out.
But instead of using the tube as a tool to strictly adhere to physical distancing recommendations, Eyman used it as a toy. He wielded it like a fake lightsaber and a fake longsword; he leaned on it while in conversation with his followers.
Eyman also posed for photos with his followers and offered hugs to several before they left, completely disregarding public health officials’ guidance.
I observed all this from the safety of my car and took pictures exclusively with long lenses, having no desire to be anywhere near Eyman and company.
Eyman made it clear in an email this morning that he isn’t interested in setting a good example for others or protecting lives. Instead, his focus is on taking down Governor Jay Inslee, who he absolutely loathes and despises.
“Jay Inslee isn’t a king, but he sure is acting like one,” Eyman wrote.
“Where are the checks-and-balances? Inslee’s lockdown extension is a deeply disturbing power grab. Because it was unilateral.”
“The Legislature — supposedly the people who are elected to represent us in government decisions — were kinda-sorta-part of the initial shutdown.”
“This new extension: it was all Inslee.”
Actually, legislative leaders were briefed on Inslee’s plans to extend the stay home, stay healthy order before he publicly announced them. All the legislators I’ve spoken with say they are wholeheartedly in support of the extension. It’s needed to save lives and keep Washingtonians from getting sick.
It’s nice that Inslee is consulting with legislators. However, it’s Inslee who is the state’s chief executive. Which, I will point out, is an elected position.
We don’t just elect our legislators, we elect our governor too.
Tim Eyman oughta know that, since he’s running for governor.
But sometimes, his comments leave me wondering if, despite his long career in politics, he really, truly understands how our government works.
In Washington, all three of our branches of government are directly elected. We elect one hundred and forty-seven state legislators, nine executive department officials (including the governor), nine Supreme Court justices, and additional judges at the appellate and trial court levels. Each branch has a different role.
The legislative branch makes the laws, the judicial branch interprets the laws, and the executive branch enforces the laws.
The Legislature doesn’t need to pass a law giving Inslee emergency powers because it already did that, years ago. Read it yourself; it’s RCW 43.06.220.
This law clearly states that the governor has the power to take sweeping actions during a time of emergency to protect lives and property.
There is no power grab. Governor Inslee wants people to be safe and he’s relying on the advice of scientists and public health experts in making his decisions. Decisions that are supported by Republican state legislators and county officials. Decisions that mirror orders issued by Republican governors in other states.
To understand why adhering to the physical distancing protocols mandated by Governor Inslee is so important, all you have to do is read the sad story of the Skagit Valley Chorale. They thought they could still congregate and be safe, but they were wrong. Very wrong. Here’s the Los Angeles’ Times’ Richard Read:
MOUNT VERNON — With the coronavirus quickly spreading in Washington State in early March, leaders of the Skagit Valley Chorale debated whether to go ahead with weekly rehearsal.
The virus was already killing people in the Seattle area, about an hour’s drive to the south. But Skagit County hadn’t reported any cases, schools and businesses remained open, and prohibitions on large gatherings had yet to be announced.
On March 6th, Adam Burdick, the choir’s conductor, informed the 121 members in an email that amid the “stress and strain of concerns about the virus,” practice would proceed as scheduled at Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church.
“I’m planning on being there this Tuesday March 10th, and hoping many of you will be, too,” he wrote.
Sixty singers showed up. A greeter offered hand sanitizer at the door, and members refrained from the usual hugs and handshakes.
“It seemed like a normal rehearsal, except that choirs are huggy places,” Burdick recalled. “We were making music and trying to keep a certain distance between each other.”
After 2½ hours, the singers parted ways at 9 p.m.
Nearly three weeks later, forty-five have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or ill with the symptoms, at least three have been hospitalized, and two are dead.
Emphasis is mine.
It isn’t safe to gather in public right now. That’s why Tim Eyman’s behavior is so irresponsible and inappropriate. This is a novel coronavirus. That means it hasn’t been seen in humans before. It’s new. People don’t have an immunity to it. This isn’t some new strain of the flu — it’s a different illness. And it’s a killer.
Saving lives is Inslee’s priority right now, and justifiably so. Tim Eyman has made it clear that his priority would be very different… he’d prefer business as usual.
Said Eyman on March 19th:
Loss of life is awful, and our prayers are for the family members of those who have been lost. And it must also be said – directly and boldly – that Jay Inslee’s private sector shutdown is clearly making a bad situation exponentially worse.
Working class folks are being decimated by Inslee’s irresponsible shut down of our economy. Hundreds of thousands of people have suddenly and without warning had their ability to earn enough to provide for themselves and their families stripped away.
Actually, Inslee’s “private sector shutdown” is making a bad situation better.
Even the Trump White House admits it. Inslee’s early, aggressive actions have been widely hailed around the country because they’ve slowed the spread of the disease. Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, New York’s hospitals are overwhelmed as the number of COVID-19 cases has exploded.
Jay Inslee has been called the best governor in the country because of his families first, evidence-based, science-centered approach to COVID-19 response. He’s appeared on both CNN and MSNBC this week and been praised for his leadership.
If people are dead, it doesn’t matter how their stock portfolio is doing. If people are sick and dying in a hospital, it doesn’t matter that they have a paycheck.
The economy is not a deity, but to libertarian Republicans like Eyman, or Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, it might as well be, it seems.
Merely telling people to pray is not something a responsible public leader does in response to an outbreak of disease. A responsible public leader takes action to protect the people they represent. That’s what Inslee has done.
The governor hasn’t just ordered people to stay home; he’s directed state agencies to staff up to process unemployment claims, lobbied for federal small business assistance, and prohibited landlords from evicting people.
What’s particularly galling is that Eyman wants people to risk their lives solely for the sake of helping him score media coverage and stroking his ego.
That’s it. That’s the only reason. Those petitions that were sitting on that table in front of Walmart? They’re for an initiative (I‑1101) with a signature collection deadline of December 31st, 2020. That’s over nine months from now.
Given that the signature deadline for this initiative is not in the near future, there is no need to stand out in front of a Walmart now and ask people to sign.
Eyman knows full well that a signature drive can be pulled off in the span of a few weeks. He doesn’t need to be circulating petitions now, at least not in person. He’s choosing to, because he’s an opportunist.
Anytime Eyman sees an opportunity to ride a wave, he eagerly runs out with his surfboard. For instance, within the last few years, he has pitched the business community on an anti-minimum wage initiative (they didn’t bite) and tried to launch a referendum to abolish legislation banning the farming of Atlantic salmon, thinking that Cooke Aquaculture would want to work with him (they didn’t).
Prior to that, in 2006, Eyman embraced the religious right’s efforts to overturn Washington’s newly amended Law Against Discrimination. He failed, spectacularly. And although that was a bad experience for both him and the right wing churches that had decided to trust him, Eyman revealed this week that he continued to offer backchannel advice to them, even while publicly claiming that he would have nothing whatsoever to do with the debate and vote over marriage equality.
When Governor Gregoire signed gay marriage into law in 2012, there was a referendum filed to challenge it.
I contacted the sponsors and privately told them it was doomed to fail and recommended they promote an initiative that had already been processed (sponsored by someone else) that was much more likely to succeed. They didn’t listen — the consultants told them to go with the referendum. They saw the initiative as a threat.
People all across Washington put in hundreds of thousands of hours getting signatures for the referendum.
Their campaign raised and spent a massive amount of money. And they lost (but the consultants made out like bandits). Now, here, on SB 5395, I was watching history repeat itself.
It’s quite something, isn’t it, that Tim Eyman has the temerity to grouse about consultants making out like bandits considering that he has been scamming his followers and benefactors for years and laughing all the way to the bank.
At least those consultants were legally paid for their work.
Tim Eyman has repeatedly compensated himself illegally while lying to his donors. In the aughts, he was caught transferring campaign money to a for-profit corporation so he could funnel cash into his own pockets.
More recently, he was caught taking kickbacks from his biggest vendor, a signature gathering company (“Citizen Solutions”) run by his buddies.
Despite his long history of lying and double-dealing and despite his truly awful poll numbers, Eyman considers himself a credible and worthy opponent to Inslee.
“I’m out there fighting to put you in charge of your government, but I can only do it because you are behind me,” Eyman wrote in a March 31st fundraising plea to his followers. “Today, I write you as the front-runner among all challengers in the race to unseat Jay Inslee as governor. My short and sweet request is this — I need you to make the most generous contribution you can today by clicking here.”
Eyman might not like what Governor Inslee has been doing in response to COVID-19, but Washingtonians certainly do. Inslee’s approval ratings have skyrocketed in the past few weeks. That no doubt irritates Caleb Heimlich and other Republicans who have been trying to claim that Inslee is vulnerable to a challenge.
A SurveyUSA poll last week found Inslee with a 67% approval rating. SurveyUSA specifically asked Washingtonians for their views on how Inslee has responded to COVID-19. 25% said they strongly approved, while 42% said they approved.
Yesterday, a Microsoft-funded poll found Inslee with a 74% approval rating. Like SurveyUSA, Microsoft News and Microsoft Research asked respondents specifically to rate Governor Inslee with respect to his COVID-19 response efforts.
And, also today, Cook Political Report rated Washington’s gubernatorial race “Solid Democratic”, which equates to “Safe Democratic” — it’s the best category for a Democratic candidate to be in.
No one is invincible, and Governor Inslee cannot take his reelection for granted. But there is no reason any Washingtonian should take Tim Eyman, Inslee’s self-professed most likely opponent, seriously. He’s an admitted liar, a thief, and a scam artist who has a penchant for reckless and irresponsible behavior.
Eyman’s actions are putting lives at risk and should be loudly condemned.