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.”