Tim Eyman waves dismissively
Tim Eyman gladly puts lives at risk in order to stroke his own ego (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/Northwest Progressive Institute)

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.

Tim Eyman performs for KING5
It’s all just a game: Tim Eyman per­forms for KING5 with his blue tube (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Eyman also posed for pho­tos with his fol­low­ers and offered hugs to sev­er­al before they left, com­plete­ly dis­re­gard­ing pub­lic health offi­cials’ guidance.

Eyman: Let me give you a hug
Pan­dem­ic, what pan­dem­ic? Tim Eyman hugs a sup­port­er (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

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.

The 911 calls tell the sto­ry.

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.

People congregating around a petition table
“You should go shop­ping here today for essen­tial items,” Tim Eyman instruct­ed his fol­low­ers in an email sent this morn­ing. “If you do, you’ll see a table out­side the main entrance. It will have peti­tions on it. I’ll be stand­ing six feet away. I invite you to sign and take some with you. There might be a line of peo­ple wait­ing — make sure to stand six feet apart. After doing so, go inside and buy your essen­tials.” Despite these instruc­tions, Eyman’s fol­low­ers did not both­er to keep six feet apart.

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.

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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2 replies on “Pandemic? What pandemic? Tim Eyman still putting his life and others’ lives at risk”

  1. Shame on KING5 (and any oth­er media orga­ni­za­tions who may have been there) for play­ing along with this crim­i­nal behav­ior and putting their own employ­ees at risk.

  2. I am glad to see this agree­ment with Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee’s coro­n­avirus orders. It is also good that some­one rec­og­nizes Eyman’s lies.

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