NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, February 15th, 2021

Tim Eyman concedes that judge’s sentence won’t keep him out of Washington politics

This morn­ing, on the very day that NPI’s Per­ma­nent Defense is cel­e­brat­ing its nine­teenth anniver­sary, The Seat­tle Times pub­lished an impor­tant front page sto­ry by reporter David Gut­man on the fall­out from last week’s huge­ly con­se­quen­tial rul­ing against Tim Eyman for vio­la­tions of the Fair Cam­paign Prac­tices Act.

The sto­ry (which quotes me, Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son, talk radio host John Carl­son, and Eyman) exam­ines Eyman’s pri­or claim that Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son was seek­ing a “life­time ban” on his “future polit­i­cal activ­i­ty” in response to Eyman’s vio­la­tion of the law, and then beau­ti­ful­ly knocks it down, not­ing that Eyman him­self has now admit­ted that’s not true. From the sto­ry:

Tim Eyman had said los­ing his court case would end his career in pol­i­tics. Now he pro­claims: ‘full steam ahead.’

Tim Eyman has spent years vil­i­fy­ing Wash­ing­ton Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son, call­ing him a “fas­cist,” com­plain­ing of per­se­cu­tion and say­ing the cam­paign finance law­suit Fer­gu­son brought against him would essen­tial­ly bar him from pol­i­tics forever.

But in the wake of that law­suit, which last week result­ed in near­ly unprece­dent­ed pun­ish­ments and restric­tions on Eyman’s future polit­i­cal and finan­cial activ­i­ty, the Repub­li­can activist has come to agree with the Demo­c­ra­t­ic attor­ney gen­er­al on at least one thing: Eyman’s polit­i­cal career need not be finished.


Eyman pre­vi­ous­ly argued in court that such a pun­ish­ment “deprives me of all rights pro­tect­ed under the First Amendment.”

He pre­vi­ous­ly said the pun­ish­ment amount­ed to a “life­time ban on all my future polit­i­cal activity.”

He now admits that is not the case.

The sto­ry then quotes Bob Fer­gu­son as say­ing he’s glad that Eyman now admits what his office has said all along: the relief sought by the state (and grant­ed by Judge Dixon) does­n’t bar Eyman from exer­cis­ing his First Amend­ment rights to speak freely, write freely, or peti­tion freely. He can con­tin­ue to be involved in state pol­i­tics if he likes. He’s just not able to engage in finan­cial machi­na­tions like he was before, because he has proven him­self to be both untrust­wor­thy with mon­ey and unwill­ing to fol­low the Fair Cam­paign Prac­tices Act (Chap­ter 42.17A RCW).

Those famil­iar with the work that my team at NPI and I do won’t be sur­prised to hear me say that the afore­men­tioned con­ces­sion is actu­al­ly part of an estab­lished pat­tern of Eyman chang­ing his tune upon hav­ing reached the point where there is no longer a ben­e­fit to con­tin­u­ing to ped­dle a fabrication.

For exam­ple, back in the ear­ly 2000s, Eyman was going around insist­ing that he did­n’t get paid for his polit­i­cal work. That was a lie, and peo­ple like Demo­c­ra­t­ic con­sul­tant Chris­t­ian Sin­der­man and Seat­tle P‑I reporter Neil Modie knew it was a lie, because there was a paper trail show­ing Eyman was mov­ing mon­ey out of his cam­paign accounts into an iden­ti­cal­ly named for-prof­it cor­po­ra­tion he controlled.

“I get no mon­ey pro­mot­ing the var­i­ous ini­tia­tives. I make a lot of mon­ey sell­ing watch­es. I don’t need any extra,” Eyman told Modie.

Suzanne Karr, who worked with Eyman in those ear­ly days, could not take the lying any­more, even if Eyman could, and blew the whis­tle on him, leav­ing him lit­tle choice but to piv­ot and admit the painful truth.

On Super Bowl Sun­day nine­teen years ago, Eyman tele­phoned the AP’s David Ammons to fess up. Ammons’ arti­cle ran above the fold in both the Seat­tle Times and the Seat­tle Post-Intel­li­gencer the fol­low­ing morning.

“It was the biggest lie of my life,” Eyman told Ammons, of his claim about being an uncom­pen­sat­ed pro­mot­er of destruc­tive right wing initiatives.

Debunk­ing him­self, he con­ced­ed: “The fact is, it is true that I made mon­ey in past cam­paigns and planned to make mon­ey on future campaigns.”

Fore­shad­ow­ing his future actions and inten­tions, he also told the vet­er­an Asso­ci­at­ed Press reporter, who would go on to chair the PDC: “I want to con­tin­ue to advo­cate issues and I want to make a lot of mon­ey doing it.”

Boy, has he ever.

Anoth­er, more recent exam­ple of Eyman chang­ing his tune once there was no longer a ben­e­fit to keep­ing the lie going was in Novem­ber of 2019, after Ini­tia­tive 976 passed. Eyman had mar­ket­ed I‑976 as a mea­sure that would deliv­er “thir­ty dol­lar car tabs” to all auto-own­ing Wash­ing­to­ni­ans. In fact, I‑976 did not pro­vide for any­one’s vehi­cle fees to be set at thir­ty dol­lars, and Eyman knew that. He admit­ted it, on the record, in an inter­view with McClatchy’s James Drew:

“We were going after the big ones, the big guys. The fee itself is $30. There are some ancil­lary fees on there,” he said.

The ini­tia­tive elim­i­nates the addi­tion­al fee the state charges based on the weight of a vehi­cle, which can range from $25 to $65. It also bars local gov­ern­ments from tack­ing on car tab fees through trans­porta­tion ben­e­fit districts.

Eyman said he doesn’t see a prob­lem because the ini­tia­tive will cut car tabs sub­stan­tial­ly by elim­i­nat­ing the weight fees and tar­get­ing Sound Transit’s MVET, which is col­lect­ed in the urban areas of Pierce, King and Sno­homish counties.

“Are vot­ers going to be furi­ous because it’s $43? I don’t think so.”

In one fell swoop, Eyman neat­ly under­cut his own pri­or argu­ments about vot­ers being furi­ous about vehi­cle fees creep­ing high­er (what’s $13.25, any­way!?) while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly con­ced­ing that I‑976 would not deliv­er what it promised, even if were to be imple­ment­ed, which it will nev­er be, due to being unconstitutional.

$43.25 is not $30, as the Supreme Court rec­og­nized in its rul­ing against I‑976.

Iron­i­cal­ly, the votes that enabled I‑976 to pass came from areas of the state where vehi­cle fees are often not that much high­er than $43.25.

With­in the Sound Tran­sit juris­dic­tion in cen­tral Puget Sound, where vehi­cle fees are sig­nif­i­cant­ly high­er, I‑976 failed, show­ing that a major­i­ty of vot­ers did­n’t have buy­er’s remorse about Sound Tran­sit 3 like Eyman claimed they did.

Eyman’s con­ve­nient piv­ot away from Help me — Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son is try­ing to ban me from pol­i­tics for life! to Full steam ahead — noth­ing’s gonna stop me was entire­ly pre­dictable. Eyman needs peo­ple to open their wal­lets to keep his polit­i­cal oper­a­tion going. He needs them to feel com­pelled to give.

The pre­text can be real, it can be one hun­dred per­cent made up, or it can be a mix­ture of truth and hyper­bole — that does­n’t matter.

All that mat­ters is whether it works on the gullible.

The objec­tive of the exer­cise is fig­ur­ing out how to get fel­low mem­bers of the Trump cult to write checks and whip out their cred­it cards… and then get them to do it again just as soon as pos­si­ble. Eyman is good at con­vey­ing urgency and mak­ing some­thing sound like a mat­ter of life and death, even if it isn’t.

Since Eyman did­n’t pre­vail in Judge James Dixon’s court­room, he changed his tune, so he could por­tray him­self as a sur­vivor still in the are­na despite get­ting knocked down. In the process, he remind­ed us that he’s a shame­less fibber.

As Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son said:

“It’s iron­ic, through­out this case he wrote over and over how if we were suc­cess­ful he could no longer do this work […] Now he’s say­ing what we said all along, ‘Yes he can con­tin­ue doing this work, yes, I agree.’ That’s what we’ve been say­ing from day one.”

“He can con­ceive of ini­tia­tives, draft an ini­tia­tive, pro­mote an ini­tia­tive, speak about an ini­tia­tive […] He just can no longer be involved in the finan­cial affairs of the ini­tia­tive because he’s demon­strat­ed repeat­ed­ly that he will engage in ille­gal kickbacks.”

Last Fri­day, we pub­lished a car­toon guide to the many mech­a­nisms Eyman has come up with over the years for rak­ing in the Ben­jamins. If you’re new to Wash­ing­ton, or just want a refresh­er on how Eyman’s prof­it machine works, check out this post and learn more about how Eyman parts fools from their mon­ey.

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