Initiative 900 is one rich guy’s scheme to mess with good government

Essay At A Glance

When the founders of the initiative process set it up in Washington State not long after the turn of the last century, they envisioned it as a tool the people could use to get around a Legislature dominated by special interests.

About a hundred years later, the process is anything but that.

Instead of empowering grassroots organizing, the initiative process is used by special interests to push their own agendas. They dominate it.

These days, anyone can get on the ballot if they have half a million dollars to spare. That’s all it takes. Any wealthy person can put up the money necessary to run a paid signature drive.

That’s exactly what happened with Initiative 900.

Investment banker Michael Dunmire – a multimillionaire – put down the money Tim Eyman needed to get on the ballot. He’s the sugar daddy for Initiative 900.

On June 9th, 2005, the Spokesman-Review reported:

… According to campaign finance records filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission, Eyman has raised about $415,000 for the initiative. Of that, Dunmire and his wife have contributed more than $314,000 …

Of the total Eyman has raised for I-900, 75.6% came from Dunmire. One man provided three fourths of the funding required to hire paid signature gatherers to go out and collect signatures for I-900.

Again, the takeaway here is… if you’ve got half a million dollars, you can secure yourself a spot on the ballot – no matter what your issue is.

There’s no broad base of support for Initiative 900.

If you take out Dunmire’s contributions, Eyman’s fundraising is down yet again this year. He’s being propped up by one wealthy backer.

Eyman’s “bread and butter” is well-known for being serving after serving of unhealthy tax cuts that damage public services.

Why did Eyman stray from that this year?

Because Michael Dunmire came to Tim and asked him to do a performance audit initiative. Dunmire shrewdly recognized that Eyman is a master of media manipulation and had the connections necessary to hire petitioners to do a signature drive.

Eyman, in turn, saw an opportunity to get on the ballot and stay relevant. So he jumped at the offer and partnered with Dunmire to push Initiative 900.

Initiative 900 is one rich guy’s project. And it’s filled with problems and potholes that weren’t ever addressed – because it never underwent the scrutiny and review that the legislative process allows.

The Legislature has already passed performance audit legislation that has the potential to secure our state some modest savings. They did it months before Eyman and Dunmire turned in any signatures.

Initiative 900 is not, on balance, a good idea. It’s a poorly drafted proposal with too many problems and unanswered questions – and its backers are not motivated by a genuine desire to improve government. Vote no on I-900.

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