NPI/Permanent Defense founder Andrew Villeneuve files Majority Vote Protection Initiative

This morning, at the Secretary of State’s office in Olympia, Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve filed a new statewide initiative, titled the Majority Vote Protection Act. The intent of the initiative is to ensure that going forward, statewide initiatives and referenda only pass if an absolute majority of the state’s registered voters weigh in on them.

Additionally, the Majority Vote Protection Act stipulates that any initiative that attempts to impose any supermajority vote requirement on the Legislature (whether three-fifths, two-thirds, three-fourths, or some other threshold) must pass by the exact same supermajority of the voters, or else it will be declared failed.

“The team at the Northwest Progressive Institute is very excited about defending our Constitution’s balance of majority rule and minority rights with the Majority Vote Protection Act,” said NPI’s Villeneuve.

“This is the very first draft of this initiative, and we look forward to refining and improving it in response to the feedback we receive from our supporters, the public, and the press. We feel strongly that the time has come to change state law to ensure that our cherished tradition of majority rule is protected.”

“Our Constitution requires that bills in the Legislature pass by an absolute majority, but our minimum threshold for passage of initiatives and referenda is merely a majority of whoever turns out to vote. That doesn’t make any sense.”

“Under the lax rules of our current system, a small fraction of the state’s electorate can impose laws on everybody else in an election with poor turnout. That is precisely what’s happening right now with Tim Eyman’s hostage-taking I-1366.”

“As of this morning, turnout in Washington’s 2015 general election stands at a measly 38.28%, with almost no ballots left to count. This is the worst general election turnout since the state began permanent voter registration in the 1930s. A little more than half of the voters who participated in this year’s election voted for I-1366, while slightly less than half voted against I-1366. As Seattle Times columnist Ron Judd astutely pointed out in his column The Wrap earlier this month, this means that I-1366 has the support of less than twenty percent of the electorate.”

“A system of government that permits a few to make decisions for the many is not a true democracy,” Villeneuve said. “The first draft of our Majority Vote Protection Act would amend the statute governing the canvass of statewide ballot measures to require that all initiatives and referenda be voted on by at least an absolute majority of registered voters in order to be declared passed. It would also amend the same statute to stop the initiative process from being used to subvert majority rule by requiring that any initiative which contains some incarnation of a supermajority vote requirement to pass by its own supermajority vote requirement — or else be declared failed.”

NPI welcomes feedback on the Majority Vote Protection Act. Questions and comments pertaining to the new initiative draft may be submitted to NPI through Permanent Defense’s contact form.

Posted in Rethinking and Reframing, Statements & Advisories | Tagged ,

Statement on Supreme Court’s ruling in Huff v. Wyman

Late this morning, the Supreme Court released its ruling in Huff v. Wyman, the preelection legal challenge to Tim Eyman’s I-1366, which sought I-1366’s removal from the November 2015 general election ballot on the basis that 1366 was beyond the scope of the people’s initiative power. The Court decided on September 4th, 2015, that plaintiffs, led by King County Elections Director Sherril Huff and Thurston County Auditor Mary Hall, had not made the clear showing necessary for injunctive relief, but retained the case for a later ruling on the merits. That explanatory ruling was released today.

“We thank the Supreme Court for the timely decision it released today explaining why it did not grant an injunction removing Tim Eyman’s I-1366 from the ballot last summer,” said Northwest Progressive Institute founder and executive director Andrew Villeneuve, who has been organizing opposition to Eyman’s initiatives since February of 2002.

“We agree with King County Superior Court Judge Dean Lum that the fundamental and overriding purpose of I-1366 is to coerce the Legislature, and particularly Democratic lawmakers, into invoking the constitutional amendment process spelled out in Article XXIII, something that an initiative simply cannot do.”

“Today’s ruling from the Supreme Court did not definitively answer the question of whether I-1366 is beyond the scope of the initiative power. We believe this is a question that needs to be answered, and we hope it will be addressed in the forthcoming postelection legal challenge. As we said on Election Night, we remain committed to defeating this incredibly destructive hostage-taking initiative, so that our state’s public services and tradition of majority rule are protected. We will be fully supporting the new challenge to I-1366 that will be filed in the days to come. We urge the courts to swiftly take up this matter and uphold our state Constitution by striking down Tim Eyman’s I-1366 in its entirety.”

Posted in In the Courts, Statements & Advisories, Threat Analysis | Tagged

Opposition to Eyman’s I-1366 surpasses 60% in King County

Opposition to Tim Eyman’s I-1366 crossed the sixty percent threshold today in King County after Elections released its 3:58:14 PM report, reaching 60.59%. This is the third consecutive day that the share of the vote against I-1366 in Martin Luther King Jr. County has significantly increased; on Election Night, the NO vote was 57.54%.

Northwest Progressive Institute/Permanent Defense founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve made the following statement following the release of King County Elections’ Friday, November 6th count.

“All of us at the Northwest Progressive Institute would like to express our gratitude to the people of King County for voting so overwhelmingly against Tim Eyman’s awful, hostage-taking I-1366,” said Villeneuve. “While we are not winning statewide, to be prevailing so decisively in King County is a blessing. We are also grateful to voters in Thurston, San Juan, and Jefferson counties for recognizing that I-1366 is bad public policy, and for likewise rejecting the militant, destructive politics of hostage-taking.”

“This morning, Tim Eyman had the audacity to attack The Olympian for its praise of King and Thurston voters’ decision, quoting from the editorial and then sneering to his followers, ‘Not enough father-knows-best condescension for you?’ He also falsely assailed us, his opponents, as contemptous of voters.”

“If Eyman wants to talk about contempt, why don’t we talk about his contempt… for our Constitution, for our system of government, for our elected representatives, and anyone who disagrees with him.”

“Tim Eyman may be in a gloating mood, but we stand resolutely prepared to continue the fight against I-1366 and any other bad ideas he comes up with in the months to come. Eyman is sorely mistaken if he thinks we regard what is happening in this election as anything more than a setback. We are committed to maintaining a permanent defense against his schemes to wreck our government, as well as going on offense to raise Washington’s quality of life.”

“As the Supreme Court has ruled, we are badly underfunding public education. I-1366 would make an already grave problem much, much worse. It must not stand. We urge the Supreme Court to strike it down without delay and uphold our Constitution.”

“Tim Eyman loves to talk about the wisdom and the will of the voters, but he disregards the voters’ will when the people of Washington do not vote in accordance with his wishes. He operates by a double standard.”

“It is worth noting that most of Washington’s nearly four million voters did not even participate in this election. They stayed home. Of the few who turned out, only a narrow majority are approving I-1366. An increasingly large minority are saying NO, including a supermajority (three-fifths) of voters in King County.”

“It’s no secret that Eyman doesn’t take repudiation well. We have no doubt his losses in King, Thurston, San Juan, and Jefferson counties have left him very annoyed, because he can no longer claim that Seattle is the only place where there is a majority opposed to sabotaging Washington’s cherished tradition of legislative majority rule.”

Posted in Election Postmortem, Statements & Advisories | Tagged

Statement on the early 2015 general election returns

Early returns tonight indicate that Washington voters are passing Tim Eyman’s hostage-taking I-1366, albeit not by a large margin. Northwest Progressive Institute founder and executive director Andrew Villeneuve released the following statement after analyzing the initial results.

“Though these early results are disappointing, our resolve to protect our Constitution and our common wealth from the destructive harm of initiatives like I-1366 has never been stronger. In partnership with many other organizations committed to the defense of Washington’s values, we waged the best campaign against I-1366 that we could with modest resources.”

“We are clearly doing much, much better than we did against I-1185 in 2012 or I-1053 in 2010, and that is very gratifying. We will continue to keep an eye on the results. If late voters break against the initiative, we should see the margin tighten.”

“If I-1366 does ultimately pass, we will continue to work to defeat it in the courts. I-1366 is blatantly unconstitutional and completely beyond the scope of the initiative power, as Judge Dean Lum ruled back in August. It deserves to be buried in the graveyard of Washington state politics.”

“We are heartened to see that voters in Seattle and Snohomish County are voting to invest in road maintenance, better sidewalks, and improved transit tonight. Contrary to what Tim Eyman claims, Washingtonians are willing to tax themselves to pay for vital public services. They want a government that is effective and works for them.”

“Our research shows that voters want better choices. A recent survey conducted by Public Policy Polling for NPI shows 54% of likely 2015 voters support a capital gains tax on high earners in Washington, with 43% of respondents saying they ‘strongly support’ the idea. Voters are hungry for progressive tax reform, but I-1366 would take us in the wrong direction.”

“We’re not happy with tonight’s early results, but we’re not discouraged. At NPI, we’re in this fight for the long haul. We always have been. We will continue the fight to defend Washington’s common wealth and Constitution in the weeks, months, and years ahead. The last thing our state needs is to be paralyzed by D.C.-style gridlock, imported from our nation’s capital by Tim Eyman and his wealthy benefactors.”

Posted in Rethinking and Reframing, Statements & Advisories |

For the record, Tim Eyman’s “jaw-dropping” tax hikes figure is a big fake

For the past few weeks, Tim Eyman has been peppering the emails he sends to his followers and to the mass media with references to a $17.5 billion figure — the amount Eyman claims that taxes were increased by the Washington State Legislature in 2015. This number has begun showing up in just about every message that Eyman sends. Here are some examples (note that this is not an exhaustive list, but does contain most of the various permutations we could find):

  • Eyman, September 2nd, 2015: “Certainly the $17.5 billion in higher taxes imposed by this year’s Legislature vividly illustrates why I-1366 is necessary.”
  • Eyman, September 9th, 2015: “[L]ike this year’s session without the 2/3: this year they raised taxes a jaw-dropping $17.5 billion.”
  • Eyman, September 11th, 2015: “This year’s Legislature raised taxes a jaw-dropping $17.5 billion because last year’s tax initiative didn’t succeed.”
  • Eyman, September 14th, 2015: ” This year’s Legislature raised taxes a jaw-dropping $17.5 billion.”
  • Eyman, September 18th, 2015: “This year was different: the 2015 Legislature raised taxes a jaw-dropping $17.5 billion.”
  • Eyman, September 24th, 2015: “Olympia raised taxes a jaw-dropping $17.5 billion this session.”
  • Eyman, October 4th, 2015: “This year’s Legislature raised taxes a jaw-dropping $17.5 billion.”
  • Eyman, October 16th, 2015: “Olympia raised taxes a jaw-dropping $17.5 billion this year…”
  • Eyman, October 20th, 2015: “He [Inslee] was the biggest cheerleader for the jaw-dropping $17.5 billion in tax hikes this session.”
  • Eyman, October 26th, 2015 (just yesterday): “[A]ll we’re hearing about from politicians is the supposed necessity of $17.5 billion in additional taxes imposed over the next 10 years for more government spending (which is on top of the jaw-dropping $17.5 billion in higher taxes from this year’s legislative session).”

Eyman never cites any source for this number, and that’s probably because our research shows it’s a fabricated figure with no basis in fact.

The 2015 Washington State Legislature did vote to raise revenue several times — and, it should be noted, on a bipartisan basis! — but the totals of those increases do not sum to $17.5 billion, not even projected out over ten years.

Whenever the Legislature considers a bill that would increase tax revenue, Tim Eyman’s I-960 (from 2007) requires the Office of Financial Management to flag the bill and calculate, over ten years, the amount of revenue that would be increased.

If the bill ultimately becomes law, Eyman’s I-960 further requires that there be an “advisory vote” on it the following November. These unconstitutional “advisory votes” (which are really akin to push polls because they ask loaded questions) have been appearing on our ballots every year since 2012. This year, there were four bills that increased tax revenue, and so became the subject of “advisory votes”:

We can calculate how much the Legislature increased taxes in 2015 by looking at the estimated fiscal impact of these four bills. Through the end of 2017, it is as follows:

  • ESHB 1449: $5,592,000
  • 2SSB 5052: $551,000
  • 2ESSB 5987: $645,188,840
  • ESSB 6138: $162,461,000

Total Through 2017: $813,792,840

If the estimates are correct, by the end of 2017, the state will collect about $813 million in additional tax revenue as a result of bills passed in the 2015 long session and subsequent special sessions, with the vast majority (over three fourths) going to transportation projects. That’s a far cry from $17.5 billion – Eyman’s phony figure.

Again, as mentioned, we can’t even replicate Eyman’s phony figure by stretching out the amount of the revenue increases over ten years, which is well beyond the period of time for which the Legislature has budgeted.

  • Ten-year total for ESHB 1449: $29,072,000
  • Ten-year total for 2SSB 5052: $4,061,000
  • Ten-year total for 2ESSB 5987: $5,221,111,220
  • Ten-year total for ESSB 6138: $1,448,570,000

Total Through 2025: $6,702,814,220.00

These ten-year totals sum to $6.7 billion, not $17.5 billion.

As we have documented, Tim Eyman has been throwing around this $17.5 billion figure for weeks, as if it is unquestioned fact. But it’s actually a fabricated number.

We arrived at the figures in this analysis by doing some simple arithmetic and showing our work, which is a basic principle of mathematics taught and emphasized to Washington’s students on a daily basis.

As we can find no basis for the $17.5 billion figure Eyman has been using, not even after checking with the Office of Financial Management, and as Eyman has produced no documentation to justify it, we’re left to conclude that Eyman made it up.

This is the latest addition to a large body of evidence that demonstrates that Eyman cannot be trusted as a reliable source of information.

Posted in Rethinking and Reframing, Statements & Advisories |

The truth about taxes in Washington: We invest less in our public services than most other states

Yesterday, longtime pollster Stuart Elway revealed that his latest survey of Washington voters finds that Tim Eyman’s hostage-taking I-1366 is on the rocks, with support dropping to 42% and opposition rising to 42%, a significant shift from last July, when Elway found support for I-1366 to be at 49% and opposition at 36%.

Apparently unnerved by this news and the bad press it generated, Tim Eyman has gotten busy trying to change the subject. To his followers, he sent off a morning missive touting an endorsement from a militant, gun enthusiast outfit called The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

To the state’s press corps, he sent out a copy of a spreadsheet prepared by the Department of Revenue, which lists how much money the state has collected from property taxes every year since 1980, but is not accompanied by any analysis other than his own — which is not credible and cannot be trusted or relied upon.

Eyman’s reason for circulating the data is to prop up his narrative about Washington being a high-tax state with “skyrocketing” property taxes.

But this narrative is false.

Comparative data from the Department of Revenue shows that, as a percentage of personal income, we Washingtonians are paying less in state and local taxes than we have historically, and less than residents of most other states in the Union.

In 1980, the year Eyman is misleadingly trying to draw a comparison with, DOR data shows Washingtonians were paying a little less than $120 in state and local taxes per $1,000 of personal income. As of 2012, the most recent year for which data is available, Washingtonians were paying $96.82 in state and local taxes per $1,000 of personal income. That’s also less than what residents of most other states were paying at that same time. Comparatively speaking, Washington ranks thirty-fifth among the states with respect to state and local taxes.

The United States average, as of 2012, is $105.24 in state and local taxes per $1,000 of personal income. And again, we in Washington pay less than that. We have been on a largely downward trend for decades, as this historical chart shows:

State and Local Taxes Per $1,000 of Personal Income: Washington and All States Average 1976 - 2012

Tim Eyman doesn’t want people to know this information. That is why he never talks about it. He deals in absolutes, because absolutes produce visuals that suit his false narrative, such as the chart from DOR he sent around. But when you deal in absolutes, you cannot make useful or truthful comparisons. It is important to utilize data that allows for relative comparisons, such as the metric of state and local taxes per $1,000 of personal income. And going by that incredibly important metric, we can see that state and local taxes have been going down… not up.

1980 was a very different time: our state had a smaller population and a smaller economy than it does today. Property values and income levels were different. Washington has seen tremendous economic growth as well as an increase in population over the last thirty years. Demand for essential state and local public services has increased significantly as a consequence of population growth and new development, but funding levels have not kept up.

That’s why legislators are presently under a Supreme Court order to comply with Article IX, Section 1 of our Constitution, which stipulates that it is the paramount duty of the state to amply provide for the education of Washington’s youth.

It is true that Washington’s tax code is regressive; the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy has ranked it the worst in the nation. The sad reality is, we have an upside-down system that requires middle and lower income families to pay a much larger percentage of their income in taxes than the wealthy do.

We at NPI think this is wrong, and we want to reform our tax code to make it more progressive. Tim Eyman doesn’t. Progressive tax reform is his worst nightmare, because it could seriously limit the appeal of future anti-tax initiatives, which he profits from qualifying to the ballot on an almost yearly basis.

It is very important that taxes be fair and equitable, because taxes are our membership dues in the State of Washington, and in the cities and counties we call home. Taxes support K-12 schools, colleges, universities, police, fire, and emergency medical response, parks, pools, hospitals, roads, transit, ferries, courts, elections, foster care, jails, prisons, courts, elections, geologic hazards mapping, and a lengthy list of health and human services. By pooling our resources together, we are able to afford these things.

But unfortunately, we haven’t been investing in our essential public services to the degree we should be. Our communities have suffered as a result, and we’ve missed economic opportunities, too. We ought to be investing more than we are. Given that our tax code is so regressive, the sensible way forward is for our state is to require the wealthy (including Tim Eyman’s wealthy benefactors) to step up and pay their fair share. Sadly, Eyman’s benefactors have no interest in being patriotic taxpayers, which is why they’re underwriting Eyman’s hostage-taking I-1366.

Posted in Rethinking and Reframing, Statements & Advisories | Tagged ,

Newest Elway poll indicates Eyman’s I-1366 is in trouble

A new survey conducted by pollster Stuart Elway shows that support for Tim Eyman’s I-1366 is dropping, while support is rising, according to an article published this morning by The Seattle Times.

In a poll conducted from October 13th-15th, Elway surveyed five hundred registered voters, and found that 42% of respondents were supporting I-1366, while 42% were opposed and 16% were undecided. Back in the summer, from July 21st-23rd, Elway conducted a poll of Washington voters that found 49% support for I-1366, 36% opposition, and 15% undecided.

Eyman’s I-1366 would cut sales tax revenue by $8 billion over the next six years unless, by next April, the Legislature bows to the will of his wealthy benefactors and passes a constitutional amendment sabotaging our Constitution’s majority vote requirement for passage of bills and budgets.

“Stuart Elway’s new findings provide fresh evidence that our efforts to bring Washingtonians together to defeat Tim Eyman’s incredibly destructive I-1366 are paying off,” said Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve, who has been organizing opposition to Eyman’s initiative factory for over thirteen years. “We believe that if Washingtonians truly appreciate the costs and consequences of I-1366, most will vote no. That’s why our diverse, bipartisan coalition is working hard to connect with voters every day. We’re determined to protect our Constitution and the values our state was founded upon.”

Tim Eyman sent out an email this morning trying to minimize Elway’s findings.

“The press will certainly hyperventilate as they always do whenever an Elway poll is released, as if his numbers are printed on stone tablets,” Eyman wrote. “But without perspective, these numbers are meaningless.”

Perspective is certainly useful, but as usual, Eyman’s perspective is warped. Elway’s new findings indicate that the I-1366 isn’t going Eyman’s way… so he’s trying to dismiss them by claiming that Elway’s research is understating the true level of support for I-1366.

Eyman has made this same argument in years past. Four years ago, Eyman disputed an October Elway poll that showed his anti-tolling initiative (I-1125) losing serious ground after the opposition campaign began hitting its stride. But I-1125 ultimately went down to defeat, validating Elway’s conclusion that the measure was losing support.

And two years ago, Elway’s polling on Eyman’s Initiative 517 documented a decline in support between September and October 2013. Elway found that I-517, Eyman’s initiative on initiatives, dropped from 58% in favor and 22% opposed in September to 52% support and 25% opposed in mid-October. I-517 ultimately went on to lose in a landslide, with 62.71% of voters opposed in the only poll that mattered.

The trend is what’s important, and the trend is not going Eyman’s way, so he is trying to dismiss Elway’s research. But Elway’s findings jibe with the response we’re seeing to our campaign. It is significant to us that Elway found a substantial negative swing against I-1366 among “perfect” and “frequent” voters.

“If this survey were the election and only ‘perfect voters’ who have decided cast ballots, turnout would be about 32% and I-1366 would lose by 55% to 45%,” Elway’s memo noted. “If only ‘frequent voters’ voted, turnout would be about 53% and I-1366 would lose by 51% to 49%.”

Secretary of State Kim Wyman is forecasting statewide turnout of forty-six percent for the November 2015 general election.

“We are heartened by Elway’s findings showing a trend against I-1366, but we remain focused on reaching to voters to ensure they’re aware of the devastation I-1366 would cause,” said Villeneuve. “Voting continues until November 3rd, and there are several weeks to go. We have believed throughout this campaign that I-1366 could be defeated and deserves to be defeated. We’ll continue working as hard as we can to ensure as many Washingtonians as possible cast an informed vote against this terrible initiative.”

Posted in Poll Watch, Statements & Advisories | Tagged

PDC votes to refer case against Tim Eyman to Attorney General Bob Ferguson

This morning in Olympia, after hearing staff summarize their findings in Case 13-027 (Protect Your Right To Vote On Initiatives and Tim Eyman) and Case 15-078 (Voters Want More Choices and Tim Eyman), the five-member Public Disclosure Commission voted unanimously to refer the matter to Attorney General Bob Ferguson for prosecution, owing to the seriousness of the violations.

Northwest Progressive Institute founder and executive director Andrew Villeneuve, who has been organizing opposition to Eyman’s initiatives for over thirteen and a half years, applauded the PDC’s action and urged the Attorney General to swiftly follow up by initiating legal proceedings against Eyman.

“Today, our Public Disclosure Commission took a crucial, important vote to hold Tim Eyman accountable for his outrageous abuse of our state’s initiative process and repeated, deliberate violations of our cherished public disclosure law,” Villeneuve said.

“As Commissioner Anne Levinson said, the violations alleged in these cases are extremely troubling. The Commission’s statutory authority is simply inadequate to ensure that the punishment fits the crime. We applaud the PDC for referring this grave matter to Attorney General Bob Ferguson with an explicit request to broaden the scope of the state’s investigation to past and present periods.

“Tim Eyman needs to be held accountable for his wrongdoing as well as his stonewalling, which impeded PDC staff from finishing their investigation in time for the 2013 general election two years ago, when I-517 appeared on the ballot. ”

As PDC staff noted in their report, it appears that Eyman has been receiving kickbacks from his associates Citizen Solutions for over a decade, profiting from his own signature drives without disclosing that to the people of Washington State.

In the words of PDC staff:

Finally, staff found evidence that the undisclosed $308,185 payment Mr. Eyman received from Citizen Solutions on July 11, 2012 may have been one in a series of such payments. Staff obtained sworn testimony from Edward Agazarm, a former principal of Citizen Solutions, Incorporated, that on multiple occasions between 2004 and 2011, after paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in committee funds to Citizen Solutions to qualify his initiatives for the ballot, Mr. Eyman then sought and received payments back from the firm ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 per campaign. Mr. Agazarm testified that these payments compensated Mr. Eyman for services he rendered to Citizen Solutions, Incorporated. He stated that among other services, Mr. Eyman was compensated for bringing business to the signature gathering firm, including the business generated by Mr. Eyman’ s own initiative committees.

“For too long, Tim Eyman has operated as though he were above the law, without regard for the consequences,” Villeneuve said.

“Even today, as the Public Disclosure Commission was listening to staff present the allegations against Tim, he was shamelessly sending out yet another email shaking his electronic tin cup. He never quits hitting his followers up for money.”

“The state has repeatedly fined Eyman before for violating our public disclosure law, and even reached an agreement with him that he never again serve as a campaign treasurer, but he has continued to manipulate money himself for electoral purposes using a shell company that he controls, as PDC staff have documented.”

“Tim Eyman’s wealthy benefactors may not be bothered by his run-ins with the law, but we as a people can no longer tolerate his abusive behavior and destructive schemes to wreck our government.”

“It is our fervent hope that the Attorney General will prosecute this case to the fullest extent of the law, and win a conviction. As the Spokesman-Review has editorialized, ‘If Eyman is found guilty of these charges, he should forever be banished from initiative campaigns.'”

Posted in Eye on Money: Developments, Statements & Advisories | Tagged , , ,

PDC investigation finds Tim Eyman broke Washington’s public disclosure law, again

This morning, the staff of the Public Disclosure Commission released the results of the agency’s long-running investigation into Tim Eyman’s I-517, the initiative on initiatives Eyman qualified in 2012, which was overwhelmingly rejected by voters in November of 2013. PDC staff found Eyman and his initiative factory repeatedly violated RCW 42.17A by concealing the source of the I-517 campaign’s funding, and are recommending that the Commission refer the case to Attorney General Bob Ferguson for prosecution.

The investigation, initiated by a complaint filed three years ago by activist Sherry Bockwinkel of Tacoma, stretched on for two and a half years, and was slowed by Tim Eyman’s refusal to fully cooperate and turn over records sought by PDC staff in a timely fashion. State attorneys were ultimately called upon to assist the PDC in enforcing its subpoena power, and last week, Eyman turned over a number of records to the state, resulting in the postponement of the hearings that had been scheduled on the matter in Thurston and Snohomish County Superior Courts.

“We’re very pleased that the PDC has finally finished its investigation into Tim Eyman’s I-517 and has concluded that Tim Eyman must be held accountable for concealing campaign money,” said NPI founder and executive director Andrew Villeneuve, who has been organizing opposition to Eyman initiatives for thirteen and a half years. NPI has been in regular contact with PDC staff about the investigation; in May of 2014, Villeneuve traveled down to Olympia and testified alongside several representatives of Washington’s business community, expressing concern that the investigation was still unresolved.

“The documentation collected by the PDC and published as exhibits to its findings confirms what we have long known to be true: Tim Eyman used contributions made in support of the campaign for his last I-601 clone, I-1185, to qualify I-517, a self-serving initiative intended to make it easier and cheaper for him to qualify future initiatives to the ballot in Washington State,” said Villeneuve. “Tim Eyman deliberately chose to run a stealth campaign in violation of our state’s public disclosure law, deceiving his own donors and withholding information about his activities from the public.”

“At long last, Tim Eman’s misdeeds are catching up to him,” Villeneuve added. “The day of reckoning has come. We emphatically urge the Public Disclosure Commission to adopt the staff’s recommendation that this case be referred to the Attorney General for prosecution. The wrongdoing detailed in these findings is part of a pattern of behavior that stretches back to nearly the beginning of Eyman’s career.”

In February of 2002, Eyman admitted having taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from campaign funds for his own personal use while at the same time lying to the press, the public, and his own followers in claiming that he was working as a volunteer.

“It was the biggest lie of my life” that no donations had made their way into his personal bank account, Eyman told The Associated Press’ Dave Ammons, admitting, “The fact is, it is true that I made money in past campaigns and planned to make money on future campaigns.” Ammons also memorably reported that Eyman told him: “I want to continue to advocate issues and I want to make a lot of money doing it.”

Eyman has certainly profited handsomely from his initiative factory over the years. As PDC staff note in their findings, it appears Eyman has been double-dipping for a long time. He pays himself a salary out of campaign funds (which is disclosed in PDC reports), but then he also gets kickbacks from his buddies Eddie Agazarm and Roy Ruffino, who control the shady signature gathering firm Citizen Solutions.

NPI, along with Civic Ventures’ David Goldstein, has long suspected that Eyman gets a cut of the money that is expensed to pay for his signature drives.

Now we know it’s true.

It’s quite the racket: Eyman raises money from wealthy benefactors on a near-annual basis to fund a signature drive for an ill-conceived scheme to wreck government, telling them he needs over a million dollars to qualify for the ballot, when in reality, he needs less. This ensures that when the drive is completed, there is plenty of money left over for Eyman’s associates to pocket as profit, and to send back to Eyman for his personal use… or, in the case of the I-1185 campaign, to qualify a second initiative (I-517) with a stealth signature drive.

Eyman profits whether his initiatives win or lose (and nearly all of them have either been rejected by voters, failed to qualify, or been struck down by the courts).

The case numbers in this matter are 13-027 and 15-078. The Public Disclosure Commission will take up both at its meeting this Thursday, September 24th, at 9:30 AM in 711 Capital Way, Room 206 in Olympia. NPI will be there and is happy to make representatives from its staff, board, and advisory council available to the press to take questions and comment about the cases.

Posted in Eye on Money: Developments, Statements & Advisories | Tagged ,

Statement on the Supreme Court’s order in Huff v. Wyman

This morning, the Washington State Supreme Court rendered a preliminary verdict in Huff v. Wyman, the scope challenge to Tim Eyman’s I-1366. The Court has ruled unanimously that plaintiffs’ request for an injunction should be denied, which we understand means that I-1366 will appear on the November 2015 ballot.

“While we are disappointed in this order, this outcome was not unexpected, and we have continued all summer to lay the groundwork needed for an autumn campaign in partnership with NO on I-1366 coalition staff,” said Northwest Progressive Institute founder Andrew Villeneuve, who posted a first read of the Court’s order to NPI’s principal publication, the Cascadia Advocate.

(The Cascadia Advocate is a sister project of Permanent Defense).

“I-1366 is the most destructive initiative Tim Eyman has ever proposed,” Villeneuve said. “It would wipe out $8 billion in sales tax revenue over six years unless the Legislature agrees to a constitutional change that would sabotage the Constitution’s majority vote requirement for passage of bills — which dates back to statehood.”

“I-1366 represents an attempt by Tim Eyman to blackmail a significant number of our state’s lawmakers into voting against their values by taking Washington’s youth as hostages. I-1366 is an outrageous abuse of the people’s initiative power, and we are committed to mounting a strong campaign to defeat it in November. We’re ready to bring Washingtonians together to uphold our Constitution and protect the values our state was founded on.”

The growing coalition against I-1366 now includes AARP Washington State, OneAmerica Votes, the Mainstream Republicans of Washington, Washington State Democratic Party, League of Women Voters of Washington, NAMI Washington, and dozens more. An updated list is available from the NO on I-1366 coalition.

In a separate development, Jerry Cornfield of The Herald reported last night that state attorneys have filed a motion in Snohomish County Superior Court seeking to compel Eyman to cooperate with the Public Disclosure Commission’s stalled, long-running investigation into Eyman’s I-517, the 2013 “initiative on initiatives” that Washington voters overwhelmingly defeated. The investigation stems from a complaint filed by activist Sherry Bockwinkel in August of 2012.

“We are pleased to see that Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office is assisting the PDC with its investigation into Tim Eyman and his associates’ wrongdoing,” said Villeneuve. “This complaint is over three years old and should have been resolved long ago, but it’s evident that Tim Eyman and his associates have not been fully cooperating with investigators — despite what they told The Herald. Eyman has a long history of flouting our public disclosure law. It heartens us to see that the PDC hasn’t given up on this case and is pursuing it with the help of our state attorneys. We look forward to seeing the investigation completed.”

Posted in Eye on Money: Developments, From the Campaign Trail, In the Courts | Tagged
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