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