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

Dis­hon­est ini­tia­tive pro­mot­er and failed guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­date Tim Eyman was final­ly held account­able today for his years of ille­gal and uneth­i­cal behav­ior, includ­ing egre­gious vio­la­tions of Wash­ing­ton State’s pub­lic dis­clo­sure laws.

Thurston Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court Judge James Dixon ruled that the State of Wash­ing­ton had proven through clear and con­vinc­ing evi­dence that Eyman had repeat­ed­ly and fla­grant­ly run afoul of Wash­ing­ton’s Fair Cam­paign Prac­tices Act, cod­i­fied in the Revised Code of Wash­ing­ton as Chap­ter 42.17A.

Eyman must pay a $2.6 mil­lion fine and is now pro­hib­it­ed from fly­ing solo as a do-every­thing offi­cer of a polit­i­cal com­mit­tee, Judge Dixon decreed.

It’s the largest fine ever against an indi­vid­ual for pub­lic dis­clo­sure vio­la­tions in Wash­ing­ton State his­to­ry… and the cul­mi­na­tion of a case that began near­ly a decade ago in the sum­mer of 2012, when North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute mem­ber Sher­ry Bock­winkel filed a com­plaint against Eyman for run­ning a stealth ini­tia­tive cam­paign in vio­la­tion of the Fair Cam­paign Prac­tices Act.

Bock­winkel’s com­plaint was inves­ti­gat­ed for over two years by the Pub­lic Dis­clo­sure Com­mis­sion, which ulti­mate­ly found that Eyman had com­mit­ted mul­ti­ple seri­ous vio­la­tions of the law. It was then turned over to Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son. Fer­gu­son’s office con­tin­ued the inves­ti­ga­tion for a year and a half, then filed suit against Eyman near­ly four years ago.

Today, Fer­gu­son’s team won the relief it had been seek­ing, in what Fer­gu­son described as a total vic­to­ry for the peo­ple of the State of Washington.

Bob Ferguson playing chess at the Ravenna Community Center
Tim Eyman is no match for Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son, a cham­pi­on chess play­er (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

“After years of Tim Eyman’s deceit, obstruc­tion, and con­tempt of court, we took him to tri­al and held him account­able for receiv­ing and con­ceal­ing ille­gal kick-backs,” said Fer­gu­son in a state­ment released fol­low­ing the ruling.

“After twen­ty years of vio­lat­ing cam­paign finance laws, includ­ing two pre­vi­ous judg­ments against him, Eyman’s day of reck­on­ing has arrived.”

“Today’s rul­ing is clear — Eyman’s con­duct was ille­gal and inten­tion­al. Today’s his­toric cam­paign finance penal­ty – the largest in our state ever levied against an indi­vid­ual — is nec­es­sary to hold him account­able for some of the most egre­gious cam­paign finance vio­la­tions ever uncov­ered by the Wash­ing­ton Pub­lic Dis­clo­sure Com­mis­sion and the Wash­ing­ton State Attor­ney General’s Office.”

“Eyman is a repeat vio­la­tor of our state’s vot­er-approved cam­paign finance laws,’ not­ed Fer­gu­son. “On mul­ti­ple occa­sions, the state caught him ille­gal­ly and inten­tion­al­ly con­ceal­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars in cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions that end­ed up in his per­son­al bank account.”

“The last time Eyman admit­ted inten­tion­al­ly vio­lat­ing the law, he signed a legal­ly enforce­able agree­ment to nev­er again act as a trea­sur­er on any polit­i­cal com­mit­tee. That extra­or­di­nary rem­e­dy proved unsuc­cess­ful at stop­ping Eyman’s ille­gal con­duct. Con­se­quent­ly, our office pur­sued the next log­i­cal step — a pro­hi­bi­tion on direct­ing the finances of any polit­i­cal committee.”

“Today the judge grant­ed that rem­e­dy. This will not pre­vent Eyman from con­ceiv­ing, draft­ing and pro­mot­ing ini­tia­tives. It will, how­ev­er, stop his prac­tice of direct­ing finan­cial kick­backs into his per­son­al bank account.”

Short­ly after Judge Dixon revealed his rul­ing, we released our own state­ment react­ing to the deci­sion, which is avail­able over on NPI’s Per­ma­nent Defense.

We are elat­ed that this day has final­ly come. It was a long time in com­ing, to be sure, but it has arrived at last, and we are so hap­py that it has.

Much need­ed jus­tice has been served upon Tim Eyman. The pun­ish­ment need­ed to fit the crime, and it does. The deci­sion hand­ed down by Judge Dixon is no mere slap on the wrist. It is real and mean­ing­ful account­abil­i­ty. Over­due, but real.

Judge Dixon made it clear as he announced his find­ings of fact and con­clu­sions of law that his ver­dict is based on rock sol­id evi­dence and that he bears “no ill will” towards Eyman, even though Eyman has been in con­tempt for much of the dura­tion of the case due to his fail­ure to com­ply with dis­cov­ery orders.

You can watch Judge Dixon announce his deci­sion, slow­ly and method­i­cal­ly, by press­ing Play on the video below. Eyman is the fig­ure in red behind the table on the left. Mem­bers of Fer­gu­son’s legal team are seat­ed behind the oth­er table.

You can also read Judge Fer­gu­son’s writ­ten rul­ing below.

Judge Dixon’s judg­ment in State of Wash­ing­ton v. Tim Eyman

In addi­tion to impos­ing a big fine, as men­tioned, Judge Dixon also entered an injunc­tion that bars Eyman from con­tin­u­ing to uneth­i­cal­ly and immoral­ly oper­ate his ini­tia­tive fac­to­ry the way he has for the last two decades.

The injunc­tion (from the final page of the deci­sion above) does not pro­hib­it Eyman from exer­cis­ing his First Amend­ment rights, but it does bar him from spend­ing and trans­fer­ring mon­ey of his own volition:

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that Defen­dant Eyman shall be, and here­by is per­ma­nent­ly enjoined from man­ag­ing, con­trol­ling, nego­ti­at­ing, or direct­ing finan­cial trans­ac­tions of any kind for any Com­mit­tee, as that term is defined by RCW 42.17A.005, in the future. With­out lim­it­ing the scope of this injunc­tion, Defen­dant Eyman shall at least com­ply with the following:

Clause #1

Defen­dant Eyman shall not be named in a state­ment of orga­ni­za­tion filed with the PDC as a trea­sur­er or deputy trea­sur­er for any polit­i­cal com­mit­tee and shall not act in such capac­i­ty even if not named.

Clause #2

Defen­dant Eyman shall not have any author­i­ty or respon­si­bil­i­ty for approv­ing dis­clo­sure state­ments for any polit­i­cal committee.

Clause #3

Defen­dant Eyman shall not be named in a state­ment of orga­ni­za­tion filed with the PDC as a per­son who may autho­rize expen­di­tures on behalf of any polit­i­cal com­mit­tee and shall not act in such capac­i­ty even if not named.

Clause #4

Defen­dant Eyman or any enti­ty he con­trols shall not be list­ed as an account hold­er on any bank­ing or oth­er account that holds polit­i­cal com­mit­tee funds; nor shall he or any enti­ty he con­trols oth­er­wise have access to such accounts, direct­ly or indirectly.

Clause #5

Defen­dant Eyman or any enti­ty he con­trols shall not accept or take pos­ses­sion in any man­ner any con­tri­bu­tions of any kind intend­ed to sup­port a polit­i­cal com­mit­tee (e.g., Defen­dant Eyman can­not per­son­al­ly take pos­ses­sion of a check from a donor to be deliv­ered to a polit­i­cal com­mit­tee or intend­ed to be an in-kind contribution).

Clause #6

Defen­dant Eyman shall not have the author­i­ty to bind any polit­i­cal com­mit­tee as a speak­ing agent or oth­er­wise, with respect to expen­di­tures to be made by the polit­i­cal com­mit­tee. Fur­ther, he shall not lead any per­son or enti­ty to believe that he has such authority.

Clause #7

Except­ing pay­ments from his per­son­al funds made as in-kind con­tri­bu­tions, Defen­dant Eyman shall not have any finan­cial deci­sion mak­ing author­i­ty for any polit­i­cal com­mit­tee. He shall not nego­ti­ate the amounts of any expen­di­tures with out­side ven­dors or oth­ers for any polit­i­cal committee.

Clause #8

Defen­dant Eyman shall not approve or par­tic­i­pate in the deci­sion mak­ing for the approval of a trans­fer of funds from one polit­i­cal com­mit­tee to anoth­er or from a polit­i­cal com­mit­tee to him­self or any oth­er per­son or organization.

Clause #9

Defen­dant Eyman shall not direct­ly solic­it con­tri­bu­tions for him­self or his fam­i­ly to sup­port his polit­i­cal work with­out estab­lish­ing a polit­i­cal com­mit­tee, which must prop­er­ly report the con­tri­bu­tions to the PDC in com­pli­ance with FCPA. Any con­tri­bu­tions must be made direct­ly to the polit­i­cal com­mit­tee, not direct­ly to Defen­dant Eyman. Any con­tri­bu­tions made to the polit­i­cal com­mit­tee, whether or not intend­ed to com­pen­sate Defen­dant Eyman, must be report­ed to the PDC as a polit­i­cal con­tri­bu­tion, and, if dis­bursed to Defen­dant Eyman, dis­bursed by the polit­i­cal com­mit­tee and report­ed as a polit­i­cal expen­di­ture. The deci­sion to make the expen­di­ture must be made inde­pen­dent of Defen­dant Eyman by the com­mit­tee and approved by the Com­mit­tee’s trea­sur­er, who must not be pure­ly min­is­te­r­i­al, and who must be some­one oth­er than Defen­dant Eyman.

Clause #10

If Defen­dant Eyman loans mon­ey to a polit­i­cal com­mit­tee, the terms of the loan must be in writ­ing signed by Defen­dant Eyman and an autho­rized mem­ber of the polit­i­cal com­mit­tee, who can­not be Defen­dant Eyman. Said writ­ing must be signed before any funds are trans­ferred. The terms of the loan must be nego­ti­at­ed with the polit­i­cal com­mit­tee, and Defen­dant Eyman can­not be involved on behalf of the polit­i­cal com­mit­tee in the approval of the loan, its tenns, or its repayment.

Clause #11

Defen­dant Eyman shall not direct or solic­it pay­ments from con­trib­u­tors direct­ly to cam­paign ven­dors. Any con­tri­bu­tions solicit­ed by Defen­dant Eyman must be made direct­ly to a polit­i­cal com­mit­tee, and the polit­i­cal com­mit­tee can then dis­trib­ute the mon­ey to cam­paign ven­dors as it choos­es so long as it is in accor­dance with this injunction.

Our hats are off to Judge Dixon for com­ing up with a thor­ough set of restric­tions to put a stop to Eyman’s finan­cial chi­canery. The pro­hi­bi­tions out­lined above will need to be enforced, as we don’t expect Eyman to abide by them, at least not ful­ly or indef­i­nite­ly. Eyman has appar­ent­ly real­ized he’ll just get into more trou­ble if he does­n’t start com­ply­ing, how­ev­er, and has indi­cat­ed to reporters that he intends to com­ply, even though he isn’t hap­py about doing so.

Eyman cir­cu­lat­ed fundrais­ing appeals ahead of Judge Dixon’s deci­sion that vio­late the terms set forth in the injunc­tion. He has­n’t post­ed a new pitch for mon­ey since leav­ing the court­room, most like­ly because he’s try­ing to fig­ure out how he can shake his elec­tron­ic tin cup with­out run­ning afoul of the injunction.

Eyman has stat­ed he plans to appeal Judge Dixon’s deci­sion. We expect­ed he would, and we hope Judge Dixon’s rul­ing is affirmed by the appel­late courts.

This day of reck­on­ing may have been over­due, but it’s nev­er­the­less wel­come. Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son’s team has proved the val­ue of per­se­ver­ance, which Tim Eyman claims is his favorite val­ue. The peo­ple’s legal team are the last ones stand­ing. The con man sought by the state has been caught, and firm­ly dis­ci­plined. That is cause for cel­e­bra­tion across our great green land.

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 “Judge punishes Tim Eyman for egregiously violating Washington’s public disclosure laws”

  1. Yes­ter­day was a great day, and I for one am grate­ful that Tim Eyman has been tak­en down a few pegs. It’s the least Tim deserves after Tim’s dam­age to pub­lic trans­porta­tion and him for­get­ting that pride goeth before the fall.

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