Tim Eyman pitches I-1499
Tim Eyman pitches I-1499 (Video still)

Defeat­ed and dis­graced ini­tia­tive pro­mot­er Tim Eyman reap­peared in Olympia today, flanked by two bud­dies, to pub­licly appeal once again for wealthy bene­fac­tors to step forth and revive Eyman’s moth­balled ini­tia­tive fac­to­ry in time for the 2023 long ses­sion of the Wash­ing­ton State Legislature.

Stand­ing out­side the Sec­re­tary of State’s Elec­tions Annex under a cov­ered walk­way, Eyman staged a repeat per­for­mance of the event he orches­trat­ed last autumn, in which he made a sim­i­lar pub­lic plea for rich right wing fun­ders to pony up megabucks to allow him to run a new ini­tia­tive to get rid of Wash­ing­ton State’s new cap­i­tal gains tax on the wealthy. Eyman also dis­patched an email to his fol­low­ers replete with grainy pho­tos of his favorite Demo­c­ra­t­ic foils to “announce” his inten­tion to qual­i­fy Ini­tia­tive 1499 to the ballot.

“We need every­one to work real­ly hard to help us find some Mike Dun­mires to make I‑1499 a real­i­ty,” said Eyman. “We need suc­cess­ful folks who are will­ing to break open their pig­gy banks to pro­tect them­selves and all of us from any kind of income tax now and for­ev­er.” (Empha­sis is Eyman’s).

“Some of you can be a Mike Dun­mire for this crit­i­cal effort,” Eyman added, repeat­ing almost word for word what he said before, a plea that did not land him the funds he was ask­ing for. “Many of you have friends who are Mike Dunmires.”

By “Mike Dun­mires,” Eyman means super­rich people.

“Mike Dun­mire” is Eyman’s pre­ferred euphemism for mil­lion­aire or bil­lion­aire capa­ble of keep­ing Eyman in busi­ness by shov­el­ing cash into Eyman’s coffers.

That is what Dun­mire, a for­mer invest­ment banker who is now deceased, did for Eyman for many years. Dun­mire became Eyman’s chief bene­fac­tor in late 2004 and almost sin­gle­hand­ed­ly kept Eyman going for more than four years.

Thanks to Dun­mire’s will­ing­ness to con­tin­u­al­ly break open his pig­gy bank, Eyman was able to con­tin­ue forc­ing statewide votes on schemes pur­pose­ly intend­ed to wreck Wash­ing­ton State gov­ern­ment and sab­o­tage major­i­ty rule.

Most of the mea­sures that Dun­mire financed for Eyman were fail­ures. I‑917 did not qual­i­fy for the bal­lot, I‑960 and its clones end­ed up get­ting over­turned in court, and I‑985 and I‑1033 were reject­ed by vot­ers. Nev­er­the­less, Dun­mire stuck by Eyman, for which Eyman was immense­ly grate­ful. Not sur­pris­ing­ly, Eyman con­tin­ues to sing Dun­mire’s prais­es and hold him up as a role model.

In an email to his fol­low­ers recap­ping his appear­ance in Olympia, Eyman only allud­ed briefly to the fact that this is his sec­ond attempt to shake loose some big mon­ey by try­ing to will some­thing into exis­tence, acknowl­edg­ing: “Last year’s ini­tia­tive didn’t qual­i­fy because we start­ed late (Sep­tem­ber).”

“This year,” Eyman con­tin­ued, “we’re start­ing much ear­li­er (so we’ll have May, June, July, Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov, & Dec to col­lect signatures).”

A lack of time was­n’t what stopped Eyman’s effort last year, how­ev­er. It was a lack of resources. A paid statewide sig­na­ture dri­ve can be suc­cess­ful­ly run in under a sea­son. Eyman sim­ply did­n’t get the big mon­ey he plead­ed for and thus could­n’t hire crews to cir­cu­late peti­tions. I‑1499 will be no more suc­cess­ful than his last scam unless he can part some rich fool or fools from their money.

Hilar­i­ous­ly, at press time, Eyman was direct­ing his fol­low­ers to go to a web­site that did­n’t work: StopIncomeTaxes.com. When I vis­it­ed, I got this message:

Hmm. We’re hav­ing trou­ble find­ing that site.

We can’t con­nect to the serv­er at stopincometaxes.com.

If that address is cor­rect, here are three oth­er things you can try:

  • Try again later.
  • Check your net­work connection.
  • If you are con­nect­ed but behind a fire­wall, check that Fire­fox has per­mis­sion to access the Web.

Down detec­tors con­firmed that the domain is not resolv­ing to a host.

Eyman’s email pitch made no men­tion of Ini­tia­tive 1929, J. Van­der Stoep’s sep­a­rate cam­paign to force a statewide vote on a mea­sure to repeal Wash­ing­ton’s new state cap­i­tal gains tax on the wealthy this year.

Unlike Eyman, Van­der Stoep has plen­ty of start­up cap­i­tal for his oper­a­tion, with more than half a mil­lion dol­lars raised, $300,000+ of which has already been spent on polling, legal expens­es, and con­sult­ing. But with the clock tick­ing down to July 8th, the I‑1929 cam­paign has yet to enter the field with a sig­na­ture dri­ve, appar­ent­ly due to lack of donor inter­est in pro­ceed­ing to the peti­tion­ing stage.

Eyman isn’t aim­ing for the Novem­ber bal­lot — he knows that win­dow is clos­ing. I‑1499 is thus an ini­tia­tive to the Leg­is­la­ture, with a sig­na­ture sub­mis­sion dead­line of Decem­ber 30th. Eyman would need the same num­ber of valid sig­na­tures as Van­der Stoep to force a mea­sure before the 2023 Leg­is­la­ture: 324,516.

Eyman’s fan­ta­sy is that I‑1499 qual­i­fies and then gets adopt­ed by a Repub­li­can Leg­is­la­ture: “[I]f we flip the house and sen­ate and get the Repub­li­cans a major­i­ty in both cham­bers, they can pass the ini­tia­tive into law and Inslee can’t veto it!” Eyman exclaimed. (Empha­sis is his.) Yeah.… if. A right winger can dream, but Wash­ing­ton has­n’t elect­ed a two cham­ber Repub­li­can Leg­is­la­ture since the 1990s.

Wash­ing­ton was once a state where both par­ties were very com­pet­i­tive and where the two major par­ties were capa­ble of win­ning both statewide and in majori­ties of the state’s forty-nine leg­isla­tive districts.

Begin­ning in the 1980s, how­ev­er, that began to change. Wash­ing­ton has not elect­ed a Repub­li­can gov­er­nor since 1980, a Repub­li­can U.S. Sen­a­tor since 1994, a Repub­li­can State House major­i­ty since 1996, a Repub­li­can attor­ney gen­er­al since 2008, or a Repub­li­can State Sen­ate major­i­ty since 2014.

Repub­li­cans would need to flip nine State House seats to get a House major­i­ty and flip four seats for a State Sen­ate major­i­ty. Achiev­ing either of those goals, let alone both, will be extreme­ly dif­fi­cult — espe­cial­ly since Democ­rats aren’t plan­ning on mere­ly play­ing defense this year. (They’re hop­ing to pick off a few Repub­li­cans in com­pet­i­tive dis­tricts like the 42nd or the 10th.)

If wealthy bene­fac­tors mate­ri­al­ize to revive Eyman’s ini­tia­tive fac­to­ry, our Per­ma­nent Defense project will spring into action to oppose I‑1499. But until and unless Eyman finds a source of cash, I‑1499 will be an inert threat.

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.

Adjacent posts