Scoring the media: Who covered the news of I-1325’s demise, and who didn’t?

Happy Fourth of July!

Yesterday, following Tim Eyman’s belated acknowledgement that the signature drive for I-1325 had failed and he would not be submitting any signatures to the Secretary of State for validation, several media outlets picked up on the story, including the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The Herald of Everett, and the Spokesman-Review of Spokane. But many more media outlets did not, even though Eyman’s failure to qualify I-1325 for the ballot was a major development that deserved coverage.

A day has passed since the news broke, and we’ve decided to score the media coverage, so interested citizens can see for themselves which outlets dropped the ball and which ones carried the news. We’ll start by listing the outlets that ran with the story.

Media outlets that covered the failure of I-1325

Media outlets that didn’t cover I-1325, but did cover Eyman’s minimum wage publicity stunt in mid-June

  • The Puget Sound Business Journal published an article by Ashley Stewart which inaccurately said that Tim Eyman was “gathering signatures” for the initiative he filed (he is not, and at the time the article was written, Eyman’s initiative didn’t even have a ballot title). We emailed the PSBJ requesting a correction, but the article has not been updated. The PSBJ has yet to mention the failure of I-1325 to its readers.
  • The Stranger, piggybacking on an item published in PubliCola, mentioned Tim Eyman’s minimum wage publicity stunt in June (without disclosing that it was a stunt) but does not appear to have published much about I-1325. If I-1325 ever made it into The Stranger’s coverage, it apparently was only in passing.

Media outlets that didn’t bother to cover the failure of I-1325, but did cover the launch of I-1325 as well as Eyman’s minimum wage publicity stunt in mid-June

Media outlets that covered the launch of I-1325 but not its failure

And finally…

Media outlets that have paid little attention to Eyman in 2014 include The Associated Press, KOMO, KIRO TV, and KING. Extensive searches failed to turn up any mention of I-1325 or recent online coverage of Tim Eyman from these outlets. At least Seattle’s big three TV stations have been largely consistent in dealing with Eyman lately. Can’t say the same for the the outlets in the middle categories above.

Posted in Rethinking and Reframing | Tagged ,

Washingtonians to enjoy an Eyman-free November this year, evidence suggests

For the first time in eight years, voters in Washington won’t have to decide the fate of a Tim Eyman initiative in November. That’s the conclusion we reached this week after completing our latest threat analysis assessment.

In January of this year, Tim Eyman announced that his 2014 initiative would be I-1325, a Ted Cruz-inspired scheme to coerce the Legislature into passing a constitutional amendment to require a two-thirds vote of each house of the Legislature to raise revenue. I-1325 would wipe out $1 billion per year in funding for schools and and other vital public services in the event the Legislature did not pass such an amendment by mid-April of next year.

I-1325 is perhaps the most harmful, senseless, and mean-spirited initiative Tim Eyman has ever offered. Consequently, NPI’s Permanent Defense has been keeping a close eye on it, and laying the groundwork to fight it in the event it makes the ballot.

“For the past few weeks, we have been searching the state looking for evidence of an I-1325 signature drive,” said NPI founder and executive director Andrew Villeneuve. (NPI’s Permanent Defense, which Andrew founded in February of 2002, has now been tracking and organizing opposition to Tim Eyman’s incredibly destructive initiatives for over twelve years).

“Our network of activists have reported seeing petitions for a number of other initiatives, including I-1351 (class size), I-1329 (money in politics) , and the now-canceled I-1356 (cancer research). But the signature drive for I-1325 appears to be nonexistent. We’ve done a lot of looking, and the lack of evidence of a signature drive leads us to conclude that Eyman is going to come up way short. We believe it’s likely there are a few I-1325 petitions circulating in private, out of public view, but those petitions won’t yield the hundreds of thousands of signatures that Eyman needs.”

“Historically, Tim has relied almost exclusively on paid petitioners to get on the ballot,” Villeneuve explained. “But he hasn’t been able to hire people to collect for him this year, because hasn’t found a wealthy benefactor to put up money for I-1325.”

“Without a wealthy benefactor, he’s sunk. At least for now, he can probably raise enough to live on from smaller donors, but not employ signature gathering crews. Deprived of six figure checks from the likes of Michael Dunmire, Kemper Freeman, BP, or ConocoPhillips, the gears of Eyman’s initiative factory simply can’t turn.”

As of June 10th, Eyman’s campaign committee had reported raising a total of $191,341.05. $166,323.30 of that amount has been spent, mostly on “officers compensation” and “printing and mailing services”.

But there are no reported payments to “Citizen Solutions”, the crooked signature gathering business operated by Eyman’s associates Eddie Agazarm and Roy Ruffino, or to any other signature gathering business.

That explains why petitions for I-1325 are so hard to find on the street. Nobody’s carrying them, except perhaps a few very motivated Eyman fans.

Eyman must know I-1325 is on the verge of failing, but he hasn’t been upfront with his supporters about the status of the signature drive. Eyman is perpetuating an illusion, mainly through occasional mailings and multi-weekly emails imploring his followers to invest time and money in a campaign that doesn’t really exist.

As recently as this morning, Eyman was once again asking for money, writing, “Everyone has from now until Thursday, July 3rd — 9 days — to donate dollars and collect signatures [...] We need your help. Please contribute TODAY so this initiative effort is a success.”

246,372 valid signatures are currently required to place an initiative before the voters for their consideration. Signatures for an initiative to this November’s ballot are due no later than July 3rd, 2014 at 5 PM.

Because petitions inevitably have duplicate and invalid signatures, the Secretary of State’s office advises initiative sponsors to collect at least 325,000, so that the campaign has a cushion that can offset the signatures that won’t be counted.

Getting 325,000+ signatures is difficult and time-consuming, which is why campaigns usually make use of paid petitioners. Some campaigns use a mix of paid crews and volunteer gatherers, but campaigns that attempt to make the ballot with volunteers alone often fail, due to a lack of coordination, commitment, and preparation.

“We stand ready to mobilize against I-1325 in the unlikely event that it does make the ballot,” Villeneuve said. “We are very pleased that several other organizations have already taken a strong position opposing I-1325, including the Washington State Labor Council and the Washington State Democratic Party. But not having to fight this awful initiative in November would be a great blessing, because the last thing Washington needs is more Tim Eyman initiatives. Our common wealth and our cherished tradition of majority rule have been imperiled enough. We need to move beyond just having a conversation about tax reform and McCleary compliance; we need action and leadership from our elected representatives to uphold our Constitution and support our vital public services, especially our schools and universities.”

Posted in From the Campaign Trail, Statements & Advisories, Threat Analysis | Tagged

Washington State Democratic Party adopts resolution opposing I-1325

The Washington State Democratic Party today became the latest organization to take a position opposing Tim Eyman’s I-1325 by adopting a resolution at its 2014 State Convention in Spokane recommending that voters decline to sign I-1325 petitions from now through July 3rd (the deadline for submitting signatures) and further recommending an emphatic NO vote in the event it qualifies for the ballot.

Several weeks ago, the Washington State Labor Council also adopted a resolution opposing I-1325 at its annual COPE Convention.

Introduced in January by Tim Eyman, I-1325 is a Ted Cruz-inspired scheme that would wipe out $1 billion in funding for education and other vital public services every year unless the Legislature passes a constitutional amendment sabotaging Article II, Section 22 by requiring two-thirds votes for any bill that would increase revenue.

Such a restriction had previously been unconstitutionally imposed by a series of I-601 clones sponsored by Eyman, which were invalidated last year with the Supreme Court’s League of Education Voters decision.

The Washington State Democratic Party was an important part of the coalition that successfully defeated Tim Eyman’s I-517 last year, along with NPI’s Permanent Defense. I-517 went down to defeat in historic fashion, with over 62% of voters casting no votes. In King County, the vote against I-517 topped 73%.

Posted in Endorsements, From the Campaign Trail | Tagged

Washington State Labor Council takes position opposing I-1325 at 2014 COPE Convention

Good news to share: Today, at its annual Committee on Political Education (COPE) Convention, delegates from the Washington State Labor Council’s member unions took a position opposing Tim Eyman’s latest initiative, a Ted Cruz-style scheme intended to coerce lawmakers into approving a constitutional amendment to permanently require two-thirds votes to raise or recover revenue.

The WSLC is Washington State’s AFL-CIO affiliate. The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations is the nation’s largest labor federation, directly representing tens of millions of working men and women, and indirectly representing hundreds of millions more.

I-1325 contains a provision that automatically wipes out $1 billion in funding for education and vital public services like foster care if the Legislature does not pass the constitutional amendment Eyman wants by April 15th, 2015.

Constitutional amendments may only originate in the Legislature, which is why Eyman is resorting to extortion: he can’t get the undemocratic two-thirds vote scheme he has spent millions of dollars promoting reinstated any other way.

Eyman filed I-1325 back in January and launched a signature drive for the measure several weeks later. He has until July 3rd to submit at least 246,372 valid signatures of Washington voters. To offset duplicate and invalid signatures, he really needs around 310,000 signatures. So far, it doesn’t appear that Eyman has found a wealthy benefactor willing to put up the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed to bring in paid signature gathering crews. Eyman has relied heavily on paid petitioners to collect signatures since he started up his initiative factory.

The Washington State Democratic Party is expected to join the WSLC and NPI in opposing I-1325 next month, when it holds its biannual convention. A resolution opposing I-1325 has been submitted to the convention for consideration, and is currently in the hands of the convention’s Platform & Resolutions Committee.

Posted in Endorsements, From the Campaign Trail | Tagged

Tim Eyman is falsely advertising Initiative 1325

Ever since the Washington State Supreme Court decided the League of Education Voters case in early 2013, Tim Eyman has been agitating to reinstate the unconstitutional two-thirds vote requirement for raising revenue contained within I-601 and its clones. After arguing for years that the two-thirds vote requirement was constitutional (it wasn’t; it violated Article II, Section 22) Eyman has now changed course, and is clamoring for a constitutional amendment.

In Washington, unlike other states, constitutional amendments must originate in the Legislature, and they must get a two-thirds vote to pass. Therein lies Eyman’s problem: Most state lawmakers are simply not interested in sabotaging our state’s cherished tradition of majority rule like he and his friends are. So Eyman is resorting to Ted Cruz-style coercion. His Initiative 1325 would wipe out about a billion dollars in funding for education each year by cutting the state sales tax, unless state lawmakers pass a constitutional amendment to reinstate the undemocratic two-thirds requirement from I-601 and its clones.

But, as usual, Eyman is being dishonest in his marketing. He doesn’t acknowledge that his initiative is really about slashing the sales tax unless the Legislature does what he wants, which would make it impossible for the state to fulfill its paramount duty of providing for the ample education of every child in Washington under Article IX.

In the sad and tragic event the Legislature did capitulate to Eyman, it would mean that decisions about raising revenue would be permanently placed in the hands of the few, not the many, thus dooming any possibility of real tax reform to help Washington’s families and strengthen our state’s common wealth.

Eyman has been referring to I-1325 both as a constitutional amendment and a constitutional amendment initiative. It is neither.

An initiative cannot alter the Washington State Constitution, and there is no such thing as a “constitutional amendment initiative”.

“Constitutional amendments and initiatives are very different,” said NPI founder and executive director Andrew Villeneuve. “Initiatives are citizen-led attempts to modify the Revised Code of Washington; constitutional amendments are proposed changes to our state’s plan of government. Constitutional amendments must originate in the Legislature and receive a two-thirds vote before being placed on the ballot for ratification by the people. The Legislature also has the power to call a constitutional convention, but again, this takes a two-thirds vote.”

In early drafts of what later became I-1325, Eyman actually included a clause that stipulated the initiative should be cited as a constitutional amendment:

TITLE OF THE ACT
NEW SECTION. Sec. 8. This act is known and may be cited as the “2/3 Constitutional Amendment.”

(Here’s an example from I-641, a previous incarnation of I-1325 filed in December 2013).

He later changed it to this:

TITLE OF THE ACT
NEW SECTION. Sec. 6. This act is known and may be cited as the “Taxpayer Protection Act.”

Although Eyman changed the title provision for I-1325, he is still falsely marketing I-1325 as a constitutional amendment. Petitions for I-1325 look like petitions for Eyman’s I-601 clones. At the top, they declare in big bold lettering “TOUGHER TO RAISE TAXES”. The subheading says “Let the voters decide on a 2/3rds constitutional amendment”. In an adjacent box, Eyman editorializes:

Voters OK’d this policy in 2012, politicians took it away, this initiative brings it right back again.

This is false, or highly misleading, on all counts:

  • Voters did not approve an initiative like I-1325 in 2012 – they approved I-1185, an unconstitutional I-601 clone that had different provisions in it;
  • The Supreme Court, consisting of nine nonpartisan justices, invalidated I-601 and its clones, not legislators, as the word “politicians” seems to imply;
  • I-1325 would not bring back the unconstitutional two-thirds requirement in I-1185. Instead, it would slash the sales tax unless the Legislature passes a constitutional amendment and puts it on the ballot before April 15th, 2015.

In an email today, titled, “Traveling the state promoting our 2/3 Constitutional Amendment Initiative”, Eyman writes:

It’s been a whirlwind effort. It’s been exciting, exhilarating, and yes, exhausting. But the enthusiasm and support from everyone for the 2/3 Constitutional Amendment Initiative has really been inspiring. Everyone loves the fact that it’s a constitutional amendment, meaning it will provide permanent protection. Pass it one time and it’ll be for all-time. I-1325 will keep Olympia on a short leash FOREVER!

This is false. Once again, I-1325 is not a constitutional amendment. It is an initiative that would slash the sales tax by half of one percent, resulting in the loss of about a billion dollars per year for our public schools, unless the Legislature decides to pass a constitutional amendment to Eyman’s liking. Eyman cannot force state lawmakers to do what he wants, but he is trying anyway with I-1325.

Eyman delights in wrecking government and putting people who have chosen to serve Washington as elected leaders in impossible positions.

I-1325 is likely itself unconstitutional, because, as mentioned, it would interfere with the state’s ability to carry out its paramount duty to provide for the ample provision of the education of Washington’s youth. The Washington State Supreme Court has already ruled in McCleary that the state is failing to abide by Article IX of the Constitution by underfunding our schools.

A better, more accurate title for I-1325 would be the “Denying Our Children the Education They Deserve” initiative.

No one who writes about or reports on I-1325 should use the deceptive description that Eyman is using, because it masks the truth about the initiative. Either of the outcomes Eyman is attempting to bring about with I-1325 would have disastrous implications. Simply put, I-1325 is a noxious, incredibly destructive initiative. It deserves to be defeated, and Tim Eyman’s false marketing of it deserves to be exposed.

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

Setting the record straight on HB 2552

Throughout the past week and a half, Tim Eyman has been sending out near-daily emails trashing House Bill 2552, the initiative process transparency and accountability bill that passed out of the Washington State House of Representatives on February 17th with a large bipartisan majority.

Eyman has been asking his supporters to write to all of the Republicans who voted for the bill and demand that they recant and reverse their position. Unfortunately, as usual, he has not been upfront with his supporters, or with the media and elected officials he claims to have carbon copied on his messages.

His denunciations of HB 2552 have been packed to the brim with misinformation and recycled talking points he’s used in previous years against completely different bills, leaving us to wonder whether he has actually read the text of HB 2552. We’d like to take this opportunity to set the record straight and explain why HB 2552 is a good bill that actually strengthens the integrity of the initiative, referendum, and recall process.

As its bill report makes clear, House Bill 2552 is backed by a broad coalition of organizations, including the Washington Food Industry Association and NPI, which helped organize the successful coalition that overwhelmingly defeated Tim Eyman’s I-517 last year. HB 2552 is also supported by Secretary of State Kim Wyman, Washington’s top elections official and the only Republican elected to statewide office.

The purpose of HB 2552 is to make the initiative process more transparent and the companies that have turned it into an underground industry more accountable.

The bill was inspired by similar legislation passed in Oregon that the Oregon Secretary of State’s office says has helped to increase public confidence in the initiative process and deter signature fraud, but it is not identical.

Eyman has made a number of claims over the past few days about HB 2552 that are simply not true. We’re going to run through a bunch of these and debunk them, because it’s important that everyone who is interested in this legislation understands what it really does and why it was introduced.

Myth: HB 2552 is “The Democrats’ most vile, onerous, unconstitutional anti-initiative bill in state history” (Eyman)

Reality: Tim Eyman has attacked pretty much every initiative reform bill introduced with the aim of bolstering transparency and accountability with colorful adjectives like vile and onerous. HB 2552 is actually a bipartisan bill modeled on legislation implemented in Oregon that has so far withstood legal scrutiny. It is prime sponsored by Democratic State Representative Chris Reykdal and cosponsored by two Republicans… Vincent Buys and Brandon Vick. It is supported by Republican Kim Wyman, the only Republican elected to statewide office by the voters in HB 2552. It passed the House with a vote of seventy-one to twenty-six on February 17th, 2014.

Myth: HB 2552 “will destroy volunteer signature gathering” (Eyman)

Reality: Wrong. HB 2552 won’t restrict or interfere with volunteer signature gathering, let alone destroy it. It requires individuals who are being paid to approach voters for their signature to register with the Secretary of State, much like paid lobbyists are required to register with the Public Disclosure Commission. Volunteers do not need to register. Eyman claims:

Under HB 2552, even fewer volunteers will collect signatures because each sheet must be individually filled out on the back and a huge amount of personal information must be handwritten on each sheet.  What’ll happen then?  Initiative campaigns will become even more reliant on paid petitioning.

This is nonsense. The “huge amount of personal information” from petitioners that’s required is just a name, street address, city, state, zip, signature, and the date of the signature. Existing state law requires about the same amount of information of any voter signing the petition… name, signature, address, city, and county of residence. Signing the signature declaration on the back of a petition is no more complicated or time-consuming than signing a petition itself.

And under the bill, the initiative’s sponsor is fined $500 for each sheet not filled out.  What will initiative sponsors do?  To avoid the fine, they will throw away and never submit all the petition sheets that are not filled out, meaning thousands of valid voter signatures will never be turned in and counted.  This will destroy volunteer signature collection, resulting in increased reliance on paid petitioners (the opposite of what we all want)

This is false. HB 2552 does not impose any fines on initiative sponsors for submitting petitions without a signed declaration. The bill does impose fines on initiative sponsors and signature gathering firms if they employ petitioners who do not register, and if petitioners circulate petitions for free in addition to being paid. We checked with the staff of the Government Operations & Elections Committee, and they confirmed Eyman is incorrect. Here’s the relevant language in the bill:

NEW SECTION. Sec 8. A fine of five hundred dollars shall be issued to the prime sponsor or sponsors of the initiative, referendum, or recall petition or the signature gathering business for each of its paid signature gatherers who are not registered under this section, and for each signature gatherer who violates subsection (6) of this section.

Subsection 6 says:

An individual registered under this section may not obtain  signatures on a petition or prospective petition for which the individual is being paid and, at the same time, obtain signatures on a petition or prospective petition for which the individual is not being paid.

Just to reiterate: If a signature gatherer – whether volunteer or paid – forgets to fill out and sign the declaration before turning in his or her sheet, there’s no penalty. The signatures are not disqualified, and there is no fine.

Tim Eyman is wrong when he says otherwise.

Myth: “HB 2552 makes it simple for opponents of initiatives to shut down any signature drive.  They’ll know exactly who to target and harass.” (Eyman)

Reality: Nonsense. The right to petition the government for a redress of grievances is a constitutionally guaranteed right, as is the right to speak out on any issue and freely express oneself. HB 2552 will not prevent signature drives from taking place, or help opponents of any particular initiative to “shut down” a signature drive. Proponents and opponents of initiatives will remain free to organize for and against initiatives under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Last year, during the debate over Tim Eyman’s I-517 (which the people of Washington resoundingly rejected), former Secretary of State Sam Reed noted that during his tenure, most of the complaints received by his office regarding signature gathering pertained to aggressive petitioners, who voters reported were being too pushy and intimidating.

HB 2552 seeks to address these complaints by requiring that paid signature gatherers undergo training before they hit the streets with their petition sheets.

Contrary to what Tim Eyman has said, HB 2552 was not written to make it easier for opponents of initiatives to track down petitioners and make trouble for them. The bill was actually amended in committee to exempt the identification that petitioners must submit from being made available to the public, at the urging of HB 2552’s proponents. Section 1(9):

NEW SECTION. Sec 9. The applicant’s driver license, state identification card, or other photo identification required under subsection (1)(d) of this section is exempt from public inspection or copying.

Myth: “HB 2552 will radically decrease the number of citizens willing to participate in the initiative process by imposing massive burdens. And to accomplish what? Burdening everyone to find the handful who are already being caught under the current system!”

Reality: HB 2552 is a bill designed to strengthen the integrity of the initiative process. It requires individuals who are being paid to lobby voters in their capacity as citizen lawmakers to register with the Secretary of State, just as lobbyists who are being paid to lobby our elected representatives must register with the Public Disclosure Commission. There is nothing sinister or vile about HB 2552. Paid petitioners are required to register in Oregon, and it hasn’t stopped or diminished participation in the initiative process there.

Eyman fails to admit that many of the people who set up shop outside of entrances and exits to supermarkets, stadiums, and fairs are not necessarily citizens or even residents of Washington. Signature gathering firms often bring in workers from out-of-state who are unfamiliar with Washington’s politics or people to collect signatures. HB 2552 requires these firms and the petitioners who work for them to register and undergo training and background checks. Volunteer signature gatherers who simply wish to exercise their First Amendment rights are completely exempt from the registration requirements.

In his tirades against HB 2552, Eyman has repeatedly tried to minimize the problem of signature fraud, even referring to fraudulent signatures as “bad sigs”.

This is misleading; when the Secretary of State processes petitions from a signature drive, they always find “bad” signatures. Some signatures are duplicates; others are invalid because the individual who signed is not a registered voter, or the signature doesn’t match what the Secretary of State has on file. A signature can be bad and not be fraudulent.

The Secretary of State does not check every signature on every petition at the end of a signature drive. To save time and money, the SoS conducts what are known as random sample checks, where a small but statistically valid sample of signatures are subjected to examination and verification. During the random sample checks for I-517 and I-522 last year, a large number of fraudulent signatures were discovered, and the Secretary of State forwarded the case on to the State Patrol for investigation.

Last year was the fourth straight year that fraudulent signatures were discovered in random sample checks. As The Herald of Everett later reported in a follow-up story, signature fraud has been a recurring problem:

Eight of 19 initiatives or referenda submitted for verification between July 2008 and January 2013 contained irregularities that were turned over to the State Patrol.

Over that span, 19 people have been investigated for petition forgery or fraud. Among those, two were convicted of felonies.

These are just the cases we know about. Since not all petitions are being checked, it is quite possible that there are instances of signature fraud going uncaught and unnoticed.

Finally, it’s important to be aware that a lot of thought went into HB 2552, and it contains different language than bills introduced in previous sessions.

Anyone reporting or commenting on HB 2552 should read the bill themselves and do their own analysis. Unfortunately, the News Tribune of Tacoma and the Spokesman-Review of Spokane failed to do that last Friday when they published editorials against HB 2552.

Both newspapers, which evidently relied on talking points supplied by Eyman, erroneously complained about valid signatures being discarded due to petitioner misconduct.

The News Tribune wrote:

After voters have signed petitions, the gatherers would have to sign them and fill out the back – by hand, on each copy. Without this laborious process, the sheets would be invalidated. In other words, citizens who thought they’d signed a petition would have their signatures thrown out without their knowledge.

Incorrect. HB 2552 does make the declaration on the back mandatory, but valid voter signatures are not thrown out if it isn’t signed by the petitioner.

The Spokesman-Review, meanwhile, wrote:

And why should valid signatures be discarded because the gatherer did not fill out and sign an identification form on the back of the petitions?

Again, they wouldn’t be.

Just so this is absolutely clear, we’ll say it one more time: HB 2552 does not disqualify the signatures of voters who have signed a petition if the gatherer forgets to fill out the declaration.  Read the bill, and do your own analysis!

The text is available right here (PDF).

Posted in Legislation & Testimony, Rethinking and Reframing |

Twelve Years: Statement from the Founder

Today and throughout this month, Permanent Defense celebrates its twelfth anniversary, marking one hundred and forty-four months of continuous operation. Since February 15th, 2002, PD has served as a critical first line of defense against threats to the commonwealth and the Constitution of Washington State, fighting destructive right wing ballot measures and opposing Tim Eyman’s initiative factory.

Permanent Defense: Twelve YearsPD is also the Northwest Progressive Institute’s oldest project; it became part of the Northwest Progressive Institute when NPI was founded on August 22nd, 2003.

Much has changed in the twelve years since Permanent Defense was launched, in both politics and technology. Permanent Defense happens to be older than the publishing platform it currently runs on (WordPress), older than much of the political blogosphere (including Daily Kos, the Huffington Post, and Politico), and, as mentioned, older than its own parent organization (NPI).

But one thing has not changed: the commitment to ensuring that harmful right wing ballots get the immediate opposition they deserve. That is what Permanent Defense does and does well. For twelve years, PD has worked to protect Washington. Prior to PD’s founding, Tim Eyman was winning at the ballot every year, though his first three successful initiatives were all later overturned by the Supreme Court.

Since PD was founded, however, Eyman has had no consecutive victories at the ballot. This was true two years ago when Permanent Defense celebrated its tenth anniversary, and it remains true today.

While our state and our region remain in need of a progressive movement that can go on offense, Washington’s common wealth and Constitution cannot be left undefended.

That is why Permanent Defense’s work is so important. Campaigns and coalitions come and go, but Permanent Defense is always there. Its resilience stems from its relentlessness; it is a project that lives up to its name.

I am very pleased to report that Permanent Defense’s twelfth year was one of its greatest yet, accentuated by two great victories for our Constitution and our commonwealth: one in court, and one in the court of public opinion.

Early on in the year, the Washington State Supreme Court finally ruled that the undemocratic provision at the heart of Eyman’s I-601 clones… as well as I-601 itself… was unconstitutional. As a consequence, majority rule was restored to our statehouse, and revenue can now be raised by majority vote, like our founders intended.

After having avoided the justiciable controversy in past cases, the Court finally made it unequivocally clear in League of Education Voters v. State of Washington that the words “majority vote” in Article II, Section 22 mean a majority… greater than fifty percent. No more and no less. The ruling is not even a year old yet, but already it ranks as one of the Court’s best and most important decisions.

Later in the year, Permanent Defense worked closely with many other organizations, including some that had supported Eyman’s I-601 clones, to build a strong and diverse coalition to oppose Initiative 517. The goal of Eyman’s I-517 was to make it cheaper and easier for Eyman to qualify initiatives to the ballot, so he could make his initiative factory more lucrative and profitable.

When we first started working against I-517, we were told by many people that it would be difficult to win. But we proved the skeptics wrong on Election Night when the initial results showed I-517 losing, and losing big.

The magnitude of the victory only increased in the days that followed, and within a week, I-517 had become Tim Eyman’s biggest defeat ever, percentage-wise. In the end, the coalition against I-517 claimed 62.71% of the vote. It was the only campaign that received more than a million votes in the election.

Although our electoral focus was on defeating I-517, we also worked to help Washingtonians understand that the five “advisory votes” on their 2013 ballot were really push polls required by Tim Eyman’s I-960. Our efforts to help educate voters paid off. Even though the wording of the questions strongly encouraged voters to vote “Repealed”, a majority of Washingtonians nevertheless defied Eyman and chose to vote “Maintained” instead on three of the five push polls.

While we take great pride in these successes, we know there is more work to do. Tim Eyman hasn’t called it quits. In fact, he remains as obsessed as ever with making his two-thirds to raise revenue scheme the law of the land.

Since our founders very wisely did not make it possible to amend the Constitution by ballot initiative, Eyman is hawking a Ted Cruz-style measure that would repeal $1 billion in funding for our public schools each year unless the Legislature approves a constitutional amendment to make Eyman’s two-thirds scheme permanent.

Eyman is essentially attempting to blackmail lawmakers by taking our schools hostage. It is outrageous and we will not stand for it. With your help, we will ensure that Eyman’s I-1325 receives the fierce opposition it deserves.

We know from over a decade of experience fighting right wing initiatives that getting an early start makes a huge difference. Given that Eyman has printed up petitions for I-1325, there can be no doubt that Eyman is serious about getting I-1325 to the ballot.

In the past, Eyman has consistently been able to find a wealthy benefactor to finance his initiative factory when he needed one. We are therefore assuming that I-1325 will be on the ballot. If it doesn’t make it, all well and good, but we can’t afford to wait and hope that Eyman falls short. I-1325 is incredibly destructive and it needs opposition now. We will provide that early opposition and ask other organizations to join us in building a strong coalition to defeat I-1325.  To do that, we need your help.

  • If you are not a member of the Northwest Progressive Institute, we urge you to become one. Members are the backbone of NPI’s supporter community, providing the time, talent, and treasure that makes NPI’s work possible.
  • If you see a petitioner collecting signatures for I-1325, we ask that you report your experience immediately so we can track Eyman’s signature drive.
  • And if you are free on the evening of April 25th, 2014, we encourage you to join us for NPI’s sixth Spring Fundraising Gala, where we will celebrate the victory over I-517 and explain what we’re doing to mobilize opposition to I-1325.

Through perseverance and hard work, we have won many victories over these past twelve years. Tim Eyman may be relentless, but so are we. We don’t give in and we don’t give up, because our Constitution and our commonwealth need safeguarding.

We need this fighting spirit to be contagious. It is no exaggeration to say that our region’s future depends on our efforts.

Here’s to a great thirteenth year for Permanent Defense.

Posted in Statements & Advisories, Threat Analysis | Tagged , ,

I-1325 would contravene the Supreme Court’s McCleary decision

Today, while Tim Eyman was busy trying to generate more publicity for his latest initiative by confronting House Speaker Frank Chopp in the statehouse, the Washington State Supreme Court ordered the State of Washington to submit, no later than April 30th, 2014, a “complete plan for fully implementing its program of basic education for each school year between now and the 2017-2018 school year.”

The order, signed by eight of the Court’s nine justices, also states (PDF):

This plan must address each of the areas of K-12 education identified in ESHB 2261, as well as the implementation plan called for by SHB 2776, and must include a phase-in schedule for fully funding each of the components of basic education. We recognize that the April 30, 2014 shortens the time for the State’s report, but it is clear that the pace of progress must quicken.

“Tim Eyman’s latest initiative violates Article IX of the Washington State Constitution by eliminating $1 billion a year in funding for education and our other vital public services if the Legislature doesn’t do what Tim wants,” said NPI founder and executive director Andrew Villeneuve.

“The Supreme Court was crystal clear in the original McCleary ruling two years ago, and again today: We are not fulfilling our paramount duty of providing every child in Washington with a quality public education. That’s because we are underfunding our schools. Tim Eyman’s I-1325 would make a bad problem much, much worse. It’s coercion: either the Legislature sabotages our cherished tradition of majority rule by voting to adopt a constitutional amendment that gives one third of one house the power to block new revenue, or the sales tax is reduced, wiping out billions every biennium. Either outcome would almost certainly lead to further violations of the state Supreme Court’s order.”

The sales tax and the property tax are the principal sources of revenue for Washington’s K-12 schools. Saying that full funding is needed “now”, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn’s office is proposing legislation that would trigger a one percent increase in the sales tax if the Legislature does not figure out how to comply with the McCleary decision by January 1st, 2018. (Eyman’s initiative, as mentioned, would decrease the sales tax by one percent unless Eyman gets what he wants).

“Tim Eyman and a number of Republican lawmakers would like us all to believe we can fully fund our public schools without reforming our broken, regressive tax system,” said Villeneuve.

“If it were that easy, we would have done it already. Where’s that money going to come from? What services do these guys propose defunding so we can rob Peter to pay Paul? Should we gut foster care? Eliminate state support for the disabled and mentally ill? Set all prisoners free and close the Department of Corrections? Or do Eyman and Republican legislators think we can get the funds by planting money trees?”

“We are not going to solve this problem by having this debate in a fantasy world. Arithmetic matters. The reality is, public services cost money, and it is our collective responsibility as a people to ensure our youth get a good public education. Our highest law requires it. More importantly, it’s at the heart of what we believe as Washingtonians. These are our values. We made a promise to our kids and to ourselves when our forebears ratified our Constitution. Tim Eyman would have us ignore that obligation. His toxic politics and destructive initiatives should be rejected.”

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

Tim Eyman borrows from the Ted Cruz playbook, turns to coercion with latest initiative

Perhaps galvanized by the headline-grabbing but ultimately failed tactics used by the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party during last autumn’s needless government shutdown, Tim Eyman today filed a revised draft of an initiative idea he’s been toying with for the last few weeks.

The latest incarnation, which does not yet have a number or a ballot title, demands that by July 1st, 2015, the Legislature put a constitutional amendment on the ballot requiring a two-thirds vote to raise revenue, or else the sales tax would be reduced by a penny, which would wipe out around $1 billion (with a b) in funding for public schools, universities, and other vital public services.

The state sales tax and property tax are the primary source of revenue for education, which the Constitution says is the state’s “paramount duty.” In McCleary v. State, The Supreme Court ruled in early 2012 that the state is failing to abide by the Constitution by underfunding its public schools.

“Tim Eyman’s latest initiative is unconstitutional, just as his I-601 clones were,” said NPI founder and executive director Andrew Villeneuve, who has organized opposition to Eyman’s destructive initiatives for nearly twelve years. “And that’s no accident. Eyman is just as interested in undermining and weakening our plan of government as he is in eviscerating the vital public services we all rely on. He’s a menace.”

Eyman’s latest destructive initiative seems directed at lawmakers, but we suspect Eyman also had the Supreme Court in mind when he wrote it. This, apparently, is his reply to the League of Education Voters decision.

For it is thanks to the Supreme Court that the main provision in Eyman’s undemocratic, unconstitutional I-601 clones is now gone, and majority rule restored to our statehouse. Last year, the Court struck down the two-thirds vote requirement for new-revenue imposed by those initiatives, affirming that the only lawful and legitimate way to change our Constitution is by amendment.

And ironically, amendments must begin in the Legislature and receive a two-thirds vote before going to the people.

Eyman therefore needs a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to make his unsound and undemocratic two-thirds scheme permanent. He needs lawmakers’ cooperation.

Since he doesn’t have the votes, he’s returning to his revenue-slashing roots and borrowing from the Ted Cruz playbook by introducing an initiative that would gut funding for public schools – and purposely defy the Supreme Court’s McCleary decision – if the Legislature doesn’t do what he wants.

Eyman’s latest initiative boils down to this: “Either comply with my wishes, or watch a billion dollars in funding for schools vanish. Clock’s ticking!”

“Tim Eyman is betting that Washingtonians care more about giving a third of lawmakers the power to block new revenue than they do about fulfilling our paramount duty, the education of Washington’s young people,” said Villeneuve. “We couldn’t disagree more, and in the months ahead, we will rally Washingtonians to join us in fiercely opposing this unconstitutional, coercive initiative.”

“We’re energized and we’re ready to work once again to protect our beautiful Evergreen State,” said Villeneuve. “But we find it sad that Tim Eyman has nothing better to do than to threaten the future of Washington’s youth.”

“Not once has Tim ever proposed an initiative that would help people. If he wanted, he could direct his energies towards ending homelessness, cleaning up Puget Sound, or ensuring vulnerable populations like the mentally ill get the care they need. But he’d rather burn than build. Instead of contributing to the betterment of our communities, he seeks their destruction.”

Posted in Statements & Advisories, Threat Analysis | Tagged

With election results certified, the failure of Tim Eyman’s I-517 sets a new record

Today, elections officials from Washington State’s thirty-nine counties certified the results of the 2013 general election. The final results show that Tim Eyman’s I-517, one of two statewide initiatives on the ballot, was defeated with 62.71% of the vote, which is the biggest-ever defeat of a Tim Eyman initiative, percentage-wise.

The old record of 61.54% was held by the No on I-892 campaign, which opposed Eyman’s 2004 scheme to put electronic slot machines in every neighborhood of the state and use the increased tax revenue to lower property taxes.

I-892 was overwhelmingly defeated by voters.

Although 2013 was a low turnout election, more than one million Washingtonians voted to reject I-517.

In King County, the no vote climbed above 70% as counting went on, and it nearly reached 72% by the time most ballots had been tabulated. The No campaign, which NPI’s Permanent Defense worked to help organize, won with a majority or supermajority of the vote in all of the state’s key swing counties, including Pierce, Snohomish, Kitsap, Whatcom, Clark, Thurston, and Spokane.

“In overwhelmingly rejecting I-517, the people of Washington have reaffirmed that the purpose of the Seventh Amendment to our state Constitution was to create an initiative process, not an initiative business,” said NPI founder Andrew Villeneuve.

“Proponents of I-517, including Tim Eyman and Eddie Agazarm, claimed during the campaign that I-517 was about making it easier for grassroots groups to get on the ballot. But in reality, they wrote and promoted I-517 to help themselves. They profit from qualifying initiatives, and they were looking to make their business even more lucrative with I-517. Thankfully, they failed.”

Tim Eyman and Eddie Agazarm have each previously admitted that they love making money from initiatives and want to make even more.

  • On February 3rd, 2002, Tim Eyman called up David Ammons of the Associated Press and confessed to having taken more than $150,000 of his own supporters’ donations for his personal use… and then lying about it for months. “This entire charade was set up so I could maintain a moral superiority over our opposition, so I could say our opponents make money from politics and I don’t,” Eyman told Ammons. Eyman admitted that going forward, he wanted to be well-paid:  “I want to continue to advocate issues and I want to make a lot of money doing it.”
  • On April 18th, 2012, in an email to petition crew chiefs, Eyman associate Eddie Agazarm addressed complaints that petitioners were not being paid to collect signatures for I-517 by claiming that the inevitable passage of the initiative would make the signature gathering business more lucrative, and that this would be good for the very petition workers he exploits. He wrote:  “Somebody said that they’d have to be asking their people to work I-517 for free. That is definitely not the case as ALL petitioners and ALL managers will get paid very handsomely once I-517 passes. Think of the extra money we ALL make when we can work big turf ALL the time. Think of the money we can ALL make when we have petitioning year round. Think of all the extra petitions we can carry. Oh… we are gonna get paid for sure.”

The Public Disclosure Commission continues to actively investigate a complaint filed by Sherry Bockwinkel in August of 2012 that alleges numerous public disclosure laws were violated by Eyman, Agazarm and their associates during the I-517 signature drive, including failure to timely report contributions and expenditures.

NPI is monitoring the status of the investigation and urging the PDC to thoroughly investigate all of the allegations.

Posted in Election Postmortem, Statements & Advisories | Tagged
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