Flanked by two new sidekicks, Tim Eyman stood in front of the Secretary of State’s Elections Annex this morning in Olympia to make a Very Important Announcement: he’s ready to go back to hawking destructive initiatives (and would like to be handsomely compensated for doing so!) just as soon as possible.
Having spent a year a half ineffectually running for governor, appearing as a surrogate for fellow grifter Loren Culp, and filing futile lawsuits against Washington State over Democratic Governor Jay Inslee’s COVID-19 safety measures, Eyman has decided it’s time to go back to what he knows and loves.
Namely, duping people into helping him ensure that Washington State’s upside down tax code remains permanently rigged in favor of the rich.
But the notorious chair thief and serial public disclosure law offender has a problem: he doesn’t have the money to restart the gears of his inoperative, rust-covered initiative factory. No wealthy patron has yet stepped forward to write the six-figure checks Eyman requires to resume his hustle. And apparently, behind-the-scenes fundraising efforts have simply not yielded any fruit.
So today, Eyman started begging in public. Not for small dollar contributions, which he does all the time using his email list, but for large ones.
Ostensibly, his “press conference” at the Elections Annex was to announce that he is launching a new initiative to ban all income taxes, capital gains taxes, and Jumpstart-style employment taxes everywhere in the State of Washington.
But it was unmistakably clear that the effort is totally unfunded and not going anywhere unless some really rich people write some really big checks.
“This is our only chance to get this critical initiative on the November 2022 ballot,” Eyman claimed. “Initiatives to the people next year will be impossible.”
“California and other states are going to monopolize paid petitioners next year. Washington will never be able to compete. The deadline for us to turn in signatures is December 30th. The number of voter signatures we need? 400,000. The cost for a paid signature drive that guarantees this initiative will qualify for that November 2022 ballot? $2.7 million. To get that many signatures — 400,000 — in such a short timeframe (September 9th to December 30th), we need a handful of Mike Dunmires to quickly step in and finance this signature drive.”
If you just read the above and are wondering what’s a Mike Dunmire, the answer is pretty simple: Mike Dunmire is the name of Eyman’s all-time top wealthy benefactor, a deceased investment banker who financed Eyman’s destructive cons for several consecutive years in the early 2000s (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009).
Without Dunmire, Eyman’s initiative factory might have sputtered to a halt, but Dunmire kept it going by pumping huge sums of money into it. Dunmire greatly admired Eyman, and Eyman in turn was extremely fond of Dunmire. However, even Dumire’s generosity had its limits; he severely curtailed his giving to Eyman in the last few years of his life, forcing Eyman to look elsewhere for money.
For much of his career as an initiative pitchman, Eyman has tried to pretend to be a populist heading a sort of citizen-driven “tax revolt” movement, when in fact, he is simply a frontman for superrich people who don’t want to be required to pay their fair share in taxes. But today, in a refreshing bit of candor, Eyman mostly dispensed with such false pretenses and pleaded openly for any right wing billionaires who might be listening to take pity on him and become his patrons.
“We need successful folks who are willing to break open their piggy banks.”
“Some of you can be a Mike Dunmire for this critical effort. Many of you are friends with some Mike Dunmires. Please help us connect with those people,” Eyman beseeched his followers. (A grand total of five people were then watching the Facebook livestream, according to a screen capture I saved.)
“For us to have any chance of qualifying for the ballot means raising a lot of money,” Eyman reiterated a few minutes later.
“I’m doing everything I can to promote this initiative. To talk to all the Mike Dunmires that I know. They know some Mike Dunmires,” Eyman added, gesturing to his sidekicks Sid and Larry. “We are not Mike Dunmires. We are good guys willing to work hard, but we are not Mike Dunmires.”
“We need Mike Dunmires to step up — significantly and quickly — if we have any chance of qualifying this to the ballot.”
Emphasis is mine. Again, “Mike Dunmire” is Eymanspeak for rich people with megabucks who can make me relevant again. Whether or not this con becomes an actual threat we have to worry about or not is entirely contingent upon whether any billionaires answer Eyman’s call, as he himself admitted.
It’s worth noting that the last two right wing billionaires who trusted Eyman (Clyde Holland and Kenneth Fisher) got burned twice: first when they financed a 2015 measure that Eyman had assured them would hold up in court but then didn’t (I‑1366), and then again the following year when Eyman used more of their money in an attempt to intimidate Democratic legislators into doing his bidding.
NPI and Washingtonians For Ethical Government caught Eyman in the act of running an illegal independent expenditure against those Democratic legislators and filed a complaint with the PDC, which promptly found Eyman guilty and forwarded the case to Attorney General Bob Ferguson for legal action. The case ended in default several years later, resulting in significant fines for Eyman.
We will be ready to respond again if Eyman and his pals succeed in getting this new con funded. If they don’t, it will implode on its own launchpad, which would be the best outcome for everybody, Eyman’s followers included, who stand to benefit from a more progressive tax code just like all other Washingtonians.