Tim Eyman misses the boat again: Former initiative promoter urges followers to ask Governor to veto NPI bill he’d already signed

Legislation & Testimony

Yesterday, in a ceremony in Olympia, Governor Jay Inslee signed NPI’s legislation, prime sponsored by Senator Patty Kuderer and Representative Amy Walen, to make voting easier in Washington State by replacing Tim Eyman’s advisory votes push polls with truthful, useful fiscal information that’s always available to voters online.

This morning, Eyman hilariously launched a halfhearted effort to lobby Inslee against signing the legislation — even though the governor had already acted on the bill.

Eyman, apparently unaware that Senate Bill 5082 had become session law the day before, sent out an email missive this morning headlined “Tell Inslee what you think. I ask you to send him an email now. Urge him to veto Senate Bill 5082.”

“These are the final days of this year’s legislative session so he’s making final decisions now!” Eyman told his followers. “I make it easy to send an email to him and his team. Remember, he only knows what he hears — so I want you to be extra clear in your email so that he’ll have a harder time ignoring your voice.”

Emphasis above is Eyman’s.

Senate Bill 5082 passed the House of Representatives on April 7th, 2021, which was three weeks ago today. Eyman knew then it would be going to Governor Jay Inslee’s desk for signature, yet curiously, he waited until today — twenty-hour hours after Inslee had signed the bill — to launch a letter-writing effort urging a veto.

Eyman has been active in Washington State politics for decades, but apparently doesn’t know that when the Legislature sends the governor a bill, the governor must act on it within five calendar days (excluding Sundays) if adjournment is more than five days away.

In the case of 5082, the bill was delivered on Friday, April 14th, which is more than five days before this year’s scheduled adjournment of Sunday, April 23rd, and the bill’s status page was updated with that information on the same day – April 14th. The fifth day following delivery was Thursday, April 20th. Had the governor not signed or vetoed 5082 then, it would have become law without a gubernatorial signature.

So, even if Eyman were unaware that the governor’s office had scheduled a bill signing ceremony for 5082 – something he could have learned from checking the governor’s website – he ought to have known that 5082’s fate would be decided by the end of April 20th one way or another, given what the Constitution says about timeframes for signing bills. But Eyman has never bothered to brush up on his constitutional knowledge, as evidenced by how many times he’s authored unconstitutional initiatives.

This is the second time that Eyman has missed the boat with respect to attempting to influence the fate of our legislation. In January, Eyman did not appear at the bill’s initial public hearing in the Senate’s State Government & Elections Committee because — by his own admission to Chair Sam Hunt — he wasn’t paying attention. We’ve now about reached the end of session and history is repeating itself. Fun times.

NPI thanks Governor Inslee for signing SB 5082 into law

Legislation & Testimony

At a ceremony today on the Capitol Campus, Governor Jay Inslee signed into law the Northwest Progressive Institute’s legislation to make it easier to vote in Washington State by replacing the anti-tax messages known as “advisory votes” with an online primer on the state’s finances that is accurate and truthful.

Championed by Senator Patty Kuderer and Representative Amy Walen (both D-48th District: Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond), SB 5082 will liberate our ballots from what are really push polls… fake ballot measures created by Tim Eyman that interrupt the act of voting, saving taxpayers millions of dollars every year in ballot design, printing, and tabulation costs.

Approved by the Washington State Senate in February and then by the House of Representatives earlier this month, the bill is set to take effect ninety days after session adjournment this Sunday, in time for the November general election.

That means voters won’t be seeing any more Eyman push polls on their ballots in future general elections. Election workers, activists, and journalists will be spared from having to constantly explain what they are to confused and upset voters.

“NPI thanks Governor Jay Inslee for signing this much-needed voting justice legislation. The ballot is a sacred space. It’s where we make the critical decisions about who represents us and what laws we should have,” said Northwest Progressive Institute founder and executive director Andrew Villeneuve. Villeneuve and NPI legislative director Kathy Sakahara joined the prime sponsors and committee chairs for the bill signing with Governor Inslee.

“The ballot is not an appropriate place for polling, advertising, or campaign-style messaging. To encourage participation and maximize voter turnout, ballots need to be as simple as possible — free of anything that is not a candidate election, a real ballot measure, or accompanying instructions for how to vote. That’s why our legislation does away with what Tim Eyman calls ‘advisory votes,’ but which are really push polls, and replaces them with useful information that can help Washingtonians better understand the fiscal decisions their elected representatives have made on their behalf.”

What voters in King County had to say about  “advisory votes” when NPI asked them to comment in a scientific survey last autumn

In an October-November 2022 survey conducted countywide in King County for NPI by Change Research with over seven hundred participants, likely voters were shown a graphic extracted from a PDF sample ballot showing the 2022 set of “advisory votes” (with no markings or annotations) alongside a question that presented arguments for keeping them (from Tim Eyman) and arguments for repealing them (from NPI).

Voters overwhelmingly backed repeal, with around three out of five voters expressing support for legislation to do away with “advisory votes.”

Here is a diverse sampling of the follow-up comments that we received from King County voters after they answered the question about whether “advisory votes” should be kept or repealed:

“I have multiple degrees and still struggle with the wording. I think many people don’t go and research each one… they just do their best. I support saving taxpayer money on the ballots and writing a full, fifth grade level explanation in the voter pamphlet.”

– Female voter between the ages of 18 and 34

“They literally do nothing. They’re a public opinion survey that is thrown in the trash afterwards. Voting to repeal doesn’t actually repeal and voting to approve is basically a rubber stamp. These advisory votes are pointless and wasteful.”

– Male voter between the ages of 18 and 34

“I recall reading those descriptions and thinking that they sounded incredibly biased. If we voted for the person who came up with those policies, it wasn’t truly ‘against the will of the people.’”

– Male voter between the ages of 35 to 49

“I’ve previously voted incorrectly based on the misleading wording of the advisory votes. I’ve not made the mistake since, but how many other voters have also made these mistakes?”

– Female voter between the ages of 35 to 49

“If we do not trust our state representatives with our money, we should not vote them into office. Advisory votes are a waste of paper asking folks to understand complex issues we are paying our representatives to understand.”

– Female voter between the ages of 50 and 64

“They’re a waste of ballot space and because of prejudicial wording they don’t give legislators any useful feedback.”

– Male voter between the ages of 50 and 64

“Advisory votes are just a meaningless gesture to undermine the legislature’s essential role of raising and dispensing revenue.”

– Male voter aged sixty-five or older

“I frequently find them confusing and lacking enough background information to feel comfortable with my decision.”

– Female voter aged sixty-five or older

NPI’s updated policy brief is an excellent resource for anyone planning to write about SB 5082 and today’s bill signing. It explains the principles underpinning the bill and the data that supports its passage.

NPI celebrates House passage of SB 5082, which replaces Tim Eyman’s push polls with accurate, truthful fiscal information

Legislation & TestimonyStatements & Advisories

Minutes ago, by a vote of 54-43, the Washington State House of Representatives passed the Northwest Progressive Institute’s legislation to make it easier to vote in Washington State by replacing the anti-tax messages known as “advisory votes” with an online primer on the state’s finances that is accurate and truthful. The bill, previously approved by the Washington State Senate in February, now goes to Governor Jay Inslee.

Championed by Senator Patty Kuderer and Representative Amy Walen (both D-48th District: Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond), SB 5082 will liberate our ballots from what are really push polls… fake ballot measures created by Tim Eyman that interrupt the act of voting, saving taxpayers millions of dollars every year in ballot design, printing, and tabulation costs.

“Tonight’s vote by the House of Representatives in favor of SB 5082 is the culmination of years of work by a lot of people and organizations to remove a barrier to voting in Washington State,” said NPI founder and executive director Andrew Villeneuve, who has spent years working on the legislation with NPI Legislative Director Kathy Sakahara and the NPI staff.

“The adoption of SB 5082 by both chambers of our Legislature is a huge win for voters and taxpayers that we’ll be celebrating for months and years to come.”

“In Washington, we believe that voting should be easy and that the ballot is sacred. It’s where we make the crucial decisions about who represents us and how we should govern ourselves. It is not an appropriate place for advertising or polling of any kind. In Washington, we also believe the people deserve truthful, accurate information about the decisions made by our elected representatives. Our bill makes it easier for them to get that information. It offers real transparency.”

“Many people worked with our team at NPI to make this victory possible. On behalf of all of our board and staff, I extend our deepest thanks to Senator Patty Kuderer and Representative Amy Walen. They have been outstanding champions for this legislation in Olympia. They are exemplary legislators. We have enjoyed sharing this journey with them.”

“Our heartfelt thanks also go to Majority Leaders Andy Billig and Joe Fitzgibbon and our state’s two State Government Committee Chairs, Senator Sam Hunt and Representative Bill Ramos. They believed in this bill and made sure that it was a priority this year.”

“Finally, we thank every representative and senator who voted for our bill. We especially commend Republican Senator Brad Hawkins, who was alone among his Republican colleagues in voting yes and recognizing that this bill is good public policy.”

“Secretary of State Steve Hobbs, King County Elections Director Julie Wise, Thurston County Auditor Mary Hall, and many other county auditors joined us in making the case for this bill to the Legislature. They have seen firsthand that ‘advisory votes’ are harmful and don’t belong on our ballots. Our elections officials spoke with clarity and moral conviction in the public hearings, and we are grateful for their leadership.”

“Indispensable support for our bill was provided by the Washington Voting Justice Coalition and Balance Our Tax Code, coalitions working for a better future to which NPI belongs. Over sixty organizations joined them and NPI in asking the House to prioritize this bill and send it on to Governor Inslee. Within twenty-four hours of receiving the joint letter we sent, the House took action. That is what responsible and responsive legislating looks like!”

Twenty-One Years: Founder’s Retrospective

Statements & Advisories

Today and throughout this month, Permanent Defense celebrates its twenty-first anniversary, marking two hundred and fifty-two continuous operation.

2022-2023 was another tranquil year for our project to protect Washington from bad ballot measures. After celebrating our twentieth anniversary a year ago with special guests like Tina Podlodowski, Joni Earl, Neil Modie, and Bob Drewel, we went back to work keeping a watchful eye on bad ballot measures, ready to spring into action to provide a first line of defense to any that became credible threats to Washington.

Celebrating twenty-one yearsHowever, none did.

Attempts were made to qualify (or start the work of qualifying) a dozen different right wing initiatives, but none went anywhere. As a consequence, no destructive schemes to defund our essential public services or wreck our state’s plan of government qualified for the 2022 ballot or to the 2023 legislature. No right wing initiatives have appeared on the Washington State ballot since 2019, and no referenda have appeared since 2020.

That’s a huge change after more than two decades of bad ballot measures qualifying every year — many of them Tim Eyman’s.

Not having to be on defense is liberating. It means we can dedicate more resources to advancing ideas that will strengthen Washington and the Pacific Northwest in the long term, as well as address the harm caused by right wing initiatives that previously went into effect or weren’t fully struck down. It’s a great feeling to have more capacity to work on initiative reform, electoral reform, and other priorities that Washington  has long needed.

Enjoy the following chronology of my favorite moments from our twenty-first year.

Governor Jay Inslee signs the first significant initiative reform bill in decades into law

March 23rd, 2022

Just weeks after our twenty-first anniversary, we scored an amazing, historic win in the Legislature: we and our allies secured the enactment of a law that requires fiscal impact disclosure statements for future initiatives. This wildly popular idea (which NPI’s polling shows is almost universally supported by voters!) ensures that we’ll never again have a right wing initiative like I-976 appear on the ballot with a deceptive ballot title that doesn’t disclose its impacts on the state’s finances. HB 1876 is the first significant initiative reform bill in decades to be signed into law. It is codified as RCW 29A.72.027.

J. Vander Stoep’s I-1929 implodes on the launchpad

June 10th, 2022

On June 10th, operative Mark Funk admitted that a right wing initiative that sought to repeal Washington State’s capital gains tax on the wealthy was kaput after megadonors refused to provide the funding Funk and J. Vander Stoep had been seeking for a signature drive and an autumn campaign. Those donors understandably balked at the prospect of committing millions to a campaign with little chance of success.

As a consequence, the dreams of the right wing Washington Policy Center and others of forcing a statewide vote on the capital gains tax did not come to pass.

This Cascadia Advocate post is a great read if you’re interested in more background.

NPI qualifies a measure to the November 2022 ballot

June 28th, 2022

While Eyman and others on the right wing failed to qualify anything to the 2022 ballot, NPI was successful in persuading the King County Council to refer to voters a charter amendment to switch twelve county-level positions (Executive, Assessor, Elections Director, Treasurer) to even-numbered years, when voter turnout is much higher and more diverse. The campaign to pass King County Charter Amendment 1 faced no organized opposition and went on to earn the support of both The Seattle Times and The Stranger.

No right wing initiatives qualify for November 2022 ballot

July 8th, 2022

In July, the statewide petition turn-in deadline came and went without any campaigns submitting signatures. Tim Eyman had wanted to qualify at least one measure to the midterm ballot, but with no wealthy benefactors available and willing to available to pony up huge piles of cash to restart his initiative factory, Eyman was not able to launch any signature drives. He thus joined Vander Stoep and others in watching the midterms from the sidelines.

Voters overwhelmingly adopt King County Charter Amendment 1

November 8th, 2022

On Election Night 2022, initial returns showed that NPI’s King County Charter Amendment 1 was headed for passage with a 69% yes vote following a smooth campaign with no organized opposition, while Republicans’ predictions of a huge “red wave” failed to materialize. There was a blue wave instead: Washington voters reelected Patty Murray and Kim Schrier, retained Steve Hobbs, sent Marie Gluesenkamp Perez to Congress from the 3rd District, and expanded Democrats’ legislative majorities in both chambers of the Legislature. Tim Eyman had declared prior to Election Night that he was praying for a “red wave.” His prayers went unanswered.

Let’s Go Washington fails to qualify its eleven initiatives

December 30th, 2022

A right wing group formed by right wing donor and activist Brian Heywood that sought to simultaneously qualify eleven initiatives as measures to the 2023 Legislature likewise failed across the board as 2022 entered its final moments. Heywood’s effort had been endorsed by Tim Eyman and other right wing operatives like Glen Morgan, and Heywood invested significant amounts of money in trying to organize a volunteer run signature drive, but ultimately discovered that it’s hard to get on the ballot without either paid signature gatherers or a well-organized network of activists willing to donate lots of time.

The demise of all eleven measures once again spared Washingtonians from having to vote on a bunch of bad right wing ideas, like allocating Washington’s presidential electoral college votes by congressional district.

Washington State Senate votes to repeal Eyman’s push polls for a second time

February 7th, 2023

Just one week before Permanent Defense’s twenty-first anniversary, the Washington State Senate took decisive action to liberate Washingtonians’ ballots from Eyman’s anti-tax propaganda. What Eyman calls “advisory votes” are really push polls, and we’ve been working to get rid of them for years with Senator Patty Kuderer, Representative Amy Walen, and other legislators. Our hard work and persistent organizing paid off on February 7th when the Senate voted thirty to eighteen to pass SSB 5082 and send it to the House of Representatives with bipartisan support. It’s the second time the Senate has voted to get rid of “advisory votes,” and hopefully it will be the last — with a corresponding House vote, we can get this bill to Governor Inslee’s desk.

Inspired by Permanent Defense’s twenty-one year track record of taking on right wing initiatives and getting results? Donate to Permanent Defense PAC now to keep Washington safe from threats to its Constitution and common wealth

NPI hails Senate passage of SB 5082, repealing Eyman’s push polls

Statements & Advisories

Minutes ago, on a bipartisan vote of thirty to eighteen, the Washington State Senate passed the Northwest Progressive Institute’s legislation to permanently repeal Tim Eyman’s push polls, which Eyman calls “advisory votes,” but which are really anti-tax messages dressed up to look like ballot measures.

Prime sponsored by Senator Patty Kuderer (D-48th District: Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond) for the fifth consecutive legislative session, SB 5082 would eliminate a barrier to voting in Washington by liberating our ballots from being polluted by Eyman’s propaganda (which Washingtonians are paying for), saving taxpayers millions of dollars every year in ballot design, printing, and tabulation costs.

Importantly, however, 5082 does more than just repeal “advisory votes.” Part III of the bill requires legislative staff to work with the Office of Financial Management to create and publish a primer on the state’s finances for voters that is actually useful and truthful. This primer, devised by Senator Kuderer and NPI, will be available online each summer and referenced in the official voter’s pamphlet with a quick response (QR) code, phone number, and web address as suggested by Secretary of State Steve Hobbs, whose office is supporting the effort to repeal “advisory votes.”

The bill’s intent language eloquently explains the principles underpinning the legislation, from the sacredness of the ballot to the importance of making it easy to cast a ballot and asking neutrally worded questions:

The legislature finds that making the act of casting a ballot as simple as possible will help promote the free and equal elections guaranteed by Article I, section 19 and Article VI, section 1 of the Washington state Constitution. The legislature recognizes that transparency and fiscal responsibility are important to the people of Washington, and that election administration and ballot design should reflect these long-held values. The legislature further finds that the people rightfully expect items on their ballots to be neutrally and accurately worded. Finally, the legislature finds for the votes that Washingtonians cast to have meaning, the ballot must be limited to candidate elections that give the people the power to choose their representatives or ballot measures that determine what laws and plan of government the state and its localities shall have.

“Our team at NPI is thrilled by today’s passage of SB 5082 in the Washington State Senate,” said NPI founder and executive director Andrew Villeneuve.

“We congratulate and thank the Senate for making this an early priority in the 2023 session. This legislation is a huge win for voters and taxpayers. It’s heartening to see it pass with bipartisan support. We are particularly grateful to our prime sponsor Senator Patty Kuderer, Senate State Government & Elections Committee Chair Sam Hunt, and Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig for their steadfast commitment to getting this done. Our state is fortunate to have champions for voting justice like them in the Legislature. Additionally, we thank Senator Liz Lovelett for her excellent floor speech today in support of the bill.”

5082 is a priority of the Washington Voting Justice Coalition, of which NPI is a member, as well as a priority of the Washington State Association of County Auditors.

Two of WSACA’s members testified in favor of SB 5082 and its House companion 1158 last month: Thurston County Auditor Mary Hall and King County Elections Director Julie Wise.

Also working with NPI to pass this legislation are the League of Women Voters of Washington State, Fix Democracy First, the Asian Counseling and Referral Service, Faith Action Network, the Economic Opportunity Institute, the Washington Community Alliance, and Progreso: Latino Progress.

NPI’s updated policy brief is an excellent resource for anyone planning to write about SB 5082 and today’s vote in the Washington State Senate. It explains the principles underpinning the bill and the data that supports its passage.

NPI statement on Court of Appeals’ decision in State v. Eyman

In the Courts

Today, the Washington State Court of Appeals (Division II) published a ruling in State of Washington v. Tim Eyman et al (No. 56653-2-II), the landmark campaign finance enforcement case brought by Attorney General Bob Ferguson against perennial public disclosure law offender Tim Eyman. The Court of Appeals held that the trial court (Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon) did not err in reaching most of its conclusions and overturned only a few facets of the judgment against Eyman, remanding the case back to Dixon for further proceedings, including a potential reduction of the penalty assessed.

Northwest Progressive Institute founder and executive director Andrew Villeneuve, who has organized opposition to Eyman’s initiatives for over twenty years and authored some of the complaints that later became lawsuits against Eyman by Ferguson, made the following statement after reviewing the Court’s ruling.

“Tim Eyman has once again had his day in court and lost. He desperately wants to escape accountability for his many serious and willful violations of the Fair Campaign Practices Act, but he will not be receiving a get out of jail free card from the appellate courts. The denouement of this case has not changed: Tim Eyman broke the law and will remain responsible for the consequences of his illegal, unethical, and deceptive behavior.”

“NPI thanks the Court of Appeals for its thoroughness. It’s evident from the ruling that the judges examined this complex case carefully and thoughtfully before returning a verdict. While not every aspect of Judge Dixon’s ruling was upheld, the key findings were affirmed, and that’s welcome news. This decision bodes well for the future of campaign finance law enforcement in Washington State.”

Election public service announcement: Wording of “advisory votes” come mostly from an Eyman-written statute, not the Attorney General’s Office

Rethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

Next week, elections officials in Washington’s thirty-nine counties will dispatch ballots in the 2022 midterm elections to over four million voters.

Unusually, there are no initiatives, referenda, or constitutional amendments on this year’s ballot, but there are two items labeled as “advisory votes,” numbered #39 and #40. These appear at the very top of the ballot, above the contests for U.S. Senate, Congress, Secretary of State, Legislature, and other offices, so voters will notice them immediately.

These items, which are anti-tax propaganda missives conceived by Tim Eyman and paid for at taxpayer expense, are described in the voter’s pamphlet as having been “Written by the Office of the Attorney General.”

However, this statement is not accurate.

The wording of the “advisory votes” actually comes from a statute (RCW 29A.72.283) that discredited initiative promoter Tim Eyman wrote in the mid-2000s which has yet to be either repealed or struck down as unconstitutional. All the Attorney General’s office does is fill in two blanks, with one consisting of a sentence fragment and the other a number (or the words “costing an amount that cannot currently be estimated”.)

The Q&A below goes into more detail about why this statement is in the voter’s pamphlet to begin with, and why it’s wrong.

Q: What are “advisory votes”?

A: At the local level, advisory votes are nonbinding plebiscites… essentially, a straw voting tool in which elected officials formally ask voters for an opinion on an issue, not at all unlike a poll. For example, a city’s leaders might ask voters if they support a fireworks ban prior to adopting such a ban councilmanically.

At the statewide level, “advisory votes” are anti-tax propaganda pieces masquerading as ballot measures. They are not unlike a script for the telemarketing technique known as push polling, in which people are given prejudicial and inflammatory information about somebody or something in the form of a question.

Discredited initiative promoter Tim Eyman conceived “advisory votes” to undermine public confidence and trust in the Washington State Legislature to advance his destructive anti-tax agenda.

Statewide, “advisory votes” are only triggered on bills that are determined to have had the effect of raising state revenue. No other kinds of bills ever get subjected to “advisory votes.”

Unlike with real ballot measures, there is no process for qualifying an “advisory vote” to the ballot through a citizen petition or legislative referral. Rather, the propaganda contained in “advisory votes” is automatically queued up and provided to elections officials following legislative passage of a revenue bill.

Note that if a bill only raises fees but not taxes, it’s not deemed a revenue bill under Eyman’s scheme.

Q: Where does the language that voters see on their ballots come from? Who wrote it?

A: The author is Tim Eyman. The wording in each and every “advisory vote” is specified by a statute Eyman wrote, with blanks that must be filled in each year by the Attorney General’s Office.

You can see the original language right here in the text of Initiative 960, which Eyman sponsored and which his former associates Mike and Jack Fagan cosponsored.

The relevant statutory language is as follows (with highlighting to show the blanks that must be filled in):

Within five days of receipt of a measure for an advisory vote of the people from the secretary of state under RCW 29A.72.040 the attorney general shall formulate a short description not exceeding thirty-three words and not subject to appeal, of each tax increase and shall transmit a certified copy of such short description meeting the requirements of this section to the secretary of state. The description must be formulated and displayed on the ballot substantially as follows:

“The legislature imposed, without a vote of the people, (identification of tax and description of increase), costing (most up-to-date ten-year cost projection, expressed in dollars and rounded to the nearest million) in its first ten years, for government spending. This tax increase should be:

Repealed . . . . [ ]
Maintained . . . . [ ]”

Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays are not counted in calculating the time limits in this section. The words “This tax increase should be: Repealed . . . [ ] Maintained . . . [ ]” are not counted in the thirty-three word limit for a short description under this section.

2008 c 1 § 8 (Initiative Measure No. 960, approved November 6, 2007).]

As we can see, the wording formula for “advisory votes” is baked right into state law.

Notice also that the statute Eyman wrote does not provide for appeals of language. It does not provide for explanatory statements or pro and con statements either. Accordingly, the context that would always be provided for a real ballot measure is not included in the voter’s pamphlet and not available to voters.

Q: How does this differ from the process for developing language for initiatives and referenda?

A: Initiatives (proposed laws originating from a citizen petition) have ballot titles that are actually written by the Office of the Attorney General (AGO). Referenda (laws voted on by the Legislature referred to the people) have titles developed by the Legislature, AGO, or both.

When someone files an initiative and finalizes the text, that measure is sent to the AGO for development of a ballot title, and an attorney working for the people of the state is tasked with turning around a concise description and summary within five business days.

The “wrapper” for initiatives and referenda consists solely of factual fragments like “The legislature passed” and “Initiative Measure No. … concerns.” There are no prejudicial statements. The process is spelled out in RCW 29A.72.050:

(1) The ballot title for an initiative to the people, an initiative to the legislature, a referendum bill, or a referendum measure consists of: (a) A statement of the subject of the measure; (b) a concise description of the measure; and (c) a question in the form prescribed in this section for the ballot measure in question. The statement of the subject of a measure must be sufficiently broad to reflect the subject of the measure, sufficiently precise to give notice of the measure’s subject matter, and not exceed ten words. The concise description must contain no more than thirty words, be a true and impartial description of the measure’s essential contents, clearly identify the proposition to be voted on, and not, to the extent reasonably possible, create prejudice either for or against the measure.

(2) If a public investment impact disclosure is required under RCW 29A.72.027, the disclosure must appear in the middle of the ballot title, after the concise description and before the question. The disclosure is not, however, considered part of the ballot title and is not subject to any of the legal requirements for ballot titles under this chapter.

(3) For an initiative to the people, or for an initiative to the legislature for which the legislature has not proposed an alternative, the ballot title and public investment impact disclosure, if applicable, must be displayed on the ballot substantially as follows:

“Initiative Measure No. . . . concerns (statement of subject). This measure would (concise description). (Public investment impact disclosure, if applicable). Should this measure be enacted into law?

Yes . . . .□

No  . . . .□”

(4) For an initiative to the legislature for which the legislature has proposed an alternative, the ballot title and public investment impact disclosure, if applicable, must be displayed on the ballot substantially as follows:

“Initiative Measure Nos. . . . and . . .B concern (statement of subject).

Initiative Measure No. . . . would (concise description). (Public investment impact disclosure, if applicable).

As an alternative, the legislature has proposed Initiative Measure No. . . .B, which would (concise description). (Public investment impact disclosure, if applicable).

1. Should either of these measures be enacted into law?

Yes . . . .□

No  . . . .□

2. Regardless of whether you voted yes or no above, if one of these measures is enacted, which one should it be?

Measure No. . . . .□


Measure No. . . . .□”

(5) For a referendum bill submitted to the people by the legislature, the ballot issue and public investment impact disclosure, if applicable, must be displayed on the ballot substantially as follows:

“The legislature has passed . . . . Bill No. . . . concerning (statement of subject). This bill would (concise description). (Public investment impact disclosure, if applicable). Should this bill be:

Approved . . . .□

Rejected . . . .□”

(6) For a referendum measure by state voters on a bill the legislature has passed, the ballot issue and public investment impact disclosure, if applicable, must be displayed on the ballot substantially as follows:

“The legislature passed . . . Bill No. . . . concerning (statement of subject) and voters have filed a sufficient referendum petition on this bill. This bill would (concise description). (Public investment impact disclosure, if applicable). Should this bill be:

Approved . . . .□

Rejected . . . .□”

(7) The legislature may specify the statement of subject or concise description, or both, in a referendum bill that it refers to the people. The legislature may specify the concise description for an alternative it submits for an initiative to the legislature. If the legislature fails to specify these matters, the attorney general shall prepare the material that was not specified. The statement of subject and concise description as so provided must be included as part of the ballot title unless changed on appeal.

The attorney general shall specify the statement of subject and concise description for an initiative to the people, an initiative to the legislature, and a referendum measure. The statement of subject and concise description as so provided must be included as part of the ballot title unless changed on appeal.

Again, for real ballot measures, state law gives the AGO the responsibility to develop the language voters see, and the AGO is indeed the author as voters are typically told. But the statute governing “advisory votes” gives the AGO only a “fill in the blank” responsibility, not an authorship responsibility.

Q: Given RCW 29A.72.283, why does the voter’s pamphlet incorrectly attribute “advisory votes” as having been written by the AGO?

A: Presumably because attributing the real author (Eyman, who isn’t a state official) would be problematic.

The AGO is required by the law Eyman wrote to determine which bills need to get subjected to each year’s batch of anti-tax propaganda and then is required to fill in the blanks with fragments to complete Eyman’s formula. No other entity is involved in the preparation of “advisory votes,” so elections officials attribute the wording to the AGO.

But again, most of the wording is coming from statute and not from the AGO, unlike with real ballot measures.

Q: Why does this distinction matter? Why is it harmful to repeat a statement that the Secretary of State put in the voter’s pamphlet?

A: Misinformation research by our universities and centers of higher learning have shown that misinformation can have a corrosive and destructive influence on our politics and civic discourse.

The job of journalists is to seek truth and report it, and the truth about “advisory votes” is that they are propaganda items with a wording formula dictated by Initiative 960. They are not the work product of the AGO. Incorrectly repeating that they are gives them a false imprimatur of legitimacy.

It’s imperative for journalists to explain in their reporting that “advisory votes” were developed by Tim Eyman to serve his agenda of starving essential public services of revenue and aren’t real ballot measures.

“Advisory votes” employ prejudicial, inflammatory language and hyperbolic ten year cost projections to negatively influence people’s views of the work of the Washington State Legislature. They cannot be used to gauge people’s opinions about taxes because you can’t find out what people really think about an issue if you’re telling them what to think first.

Bad inputs will yield bad outputs every time.

Q: Can you go into greater detail regarding how the wording is prejudicial?

A: Yes, here’s a breakdown. Each piece of the formula is shown below with commentary:

  • “The legislature imposed, without a vote of the people…” (It’s actually the Legislature’s job to make fiscal decisions on the people’s behalf.)
  • “… costing $_____ (amount over ten years) … ” (Ten year cost estimates are deceptive, exaggerated, and misleading; budgeting isn’t done in ten year increments. Any number sounds more impressive when you take it out over ten years.)
  • “… for government spending.” (When the Legislature raises revenue, there’s always a reason or a purpose for its action; for example, the new state capital gains tax funds the Education Legacy Trust and the Move Ahead Washington package provides grants so youth ages eighteen and under can ride fare-free.)
  • Then there are two responses: “Repealed” and “Maintained”. “Repealed” is shown first, because that’s the oval Eyman wants voters to fill in. “Maintained” (which is also weak, nonstandard verbiage) is shown second. Ordinarily, “Yes” or “Approved” is shown first, and “No” or “Rejected” is shown second for a ballot measure. If you’ve covered politics for any length of time, then you’re familiar with this dichotomy. Since Eyman’s goal with “advisory votes” is to influence how people think instead of measuring public opinion, he flipped the standard dichotomy on its head, all to serve his agenda of using propaganda to generate even more propaganda for attacks on our elected representatives.

Q: How should people respond to “advisory votes”?

A: The Northwest Progressive Institute, which is leading the effort in Washington to permanently abolish statewide “advisory votes,” urges all Washingtonians to vote “Maintained” on every “advisory vote” rather than skipping over these items.

As stated, since “advisory votes” employ prejudicial and inflammatory language, they can’t be used as a means of measuring public opinion. Regardless of how a voter feels about a bill subjected to an “advisory vote,” they should vote “Maintained” to convey their opposition to having their ballots polluted with anti-tax propaganda that does not belong there.

Eyman has rigged “advisory votes” to try to get people to either vote “Repealed” or skip them in disgust; voting “Maintained” is what he definitely doesn’t want people to do. Every voter who wants to take a stand for sensible ballots, voting justice, and access to democracy should confidently vote “Maintained” and then move on to the rest of the ballot.

For further information, visit VoteMaintained.org.

NPI statement on pending resolution of Tim Eyman bankruptcy

In the Courts

This morning, Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office announced in a news release that U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Marc Barreca has approved a grand settlement that mostly brings the proceedings in Tim Eyman’s Chapter 7 bankruptcy case to a close. The submission of the grand settlement to Barreca was first reported by NPI’s Cascadia Advocate on July 8th.

The settlement provides that Karen Williams, formerly Karen Eyman, will purchase Tim Eyman’s share of their Mukilteo home with funds provided by her brother. The proceeds from that transaction will benefit Eyman’s estate, allowing some of Eyman’s debts to be satisfied. The exact distribution of funds to creditors will be determined at a future date.

“With the signing of yesterday’s order presented by the Chapter 7 trustee, Judge Barreca has approved the settlement of a key adversary proceeding and authorized the sale of the one significant asset that Tim Eyman still owned: the family home in Mukilteo,” said NPI founder and executive director Andrew Villeneuve, who has worked to counter Eyman’s destructive initiatives and negative influence on Washington State politics for over twenty years and has kept a close eye on the bankruptcy case.

“This settlement achieves several important objectives. First, it allows Karen Williams, Eyman’s ex, to remain in the family home their kids grew up in, which is great. Second, it will prevent Eyman from using the home in the future as collateral for loans to fund future initiative schemes, which is something that those with long memories will remember he’s done in the past. Third, it generates money to pay Eyman’s creditors, the most important of which are the people of the State of Washington, who Tim Eyman owes a lot of money to due to his flagrant, obscene violations of Washington State’s public disclosure laws. Fourth, it avoids a lot of the costly overhead that could have been incurred if the house had been taken from Karen and Tim and put on the market. Our team commends the parties in the bankruptcy for reaching this agreement. It seems like a very fair and equitable settlement.”

The pending resolution of the bankruptcy will not liberate Tim Eyman from the penalties he incurred as a result of his stonewalling in the extreme legal strategy, or the judgment assessed against him by Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon in the Attorney General’s main campaign finance enforcement case.

“Every time you get an email from Tim Eyman complaining about he’s being persecuted, remember: Tim Eyman brought all of this on himself,” said Villeneuve. “He has no excuse. He had been in Washington State politics for a long time when he committed the violations he is being held accountable for. He had already gotten into trouble with the PDC and struck a deal agreeing to pay a fine and not to serve as a treasurer anymore. He truly thought he was above the law and could get away with his lawbreaking.”

“Now he’s discovered otherwise, and he isn’t happy about it. He can send a zillion missives grousing about our Attorney General, but that won’t change the reality that he, Tim Eyman, willingly decided to break the law, lie to his own followers, and cheat his own donors. These have long since ceased to be allegations… they are now proven facts thanks to the Attorney General’s investigation and enforcement litigation. We are very grateful for the AGO’s determination in seeing this case through. Eyman apparently figured that if he ‘persevered’ long enough, he’d eventually be able to skate. He was wrong. Justice has been served, and he can expect to remain accountable for his wrongdoing.”

Last month was the fourth consecutive July (2019, 2020, 2021, and now 2022) in which Eyman had no signatures to submit to the Secretary of State’s office for an initiative to the people, owing to not having found megabucks to underwrite a signature drive. It’s the longest drought in the history of Eyman’s initiative factory so far, and it could continue in the years to come. With no initiative of his own to sell in 2022, Eyman has been doing work for others, including his friend Paul Jacob, who is working to suppress the vote in Michigan. Documents obtained through the AG’s investigation, including letters to prospective donors, reveal that ten years ago, in 2012, Eyman was trying to use Jacob’s “Citizens in Charge Foundation” (a 501(c)(3) charity) as a pass-through entity for personal gifts, even though that is blatantly illegal under federal tax law.

For background on the settlement, see this Cascadia Advocate post and the AGO’s news release.

Statistics in the hands of Tim Eyman yield fictional narratives

Legislation & TestimonyRethinking and Reframing

“The select language of statistics, so appealing in a fact-minded culture, is employed to sensationalize, inflate, confuse, and oversimplify. Statistical methods and statistical terms are necessary in reporting the mess data of social and economic trends, business conditions, ‘opinion’ polls, the census. But without writers who use the words with honesty and understanding and readers who know what they mean, the result can only be semantic nonsense,” author Darrell Huff writes in the introduction to his classic How to Lie with Statistics.

This passage came to mind this morning when our team was examining Tim Eyman’s latest email missive, which concerns yesterday’s Senate hearing on House Bill 1876, legislation that would aid Washington State voters by requiring fiscal impact disclosures to appear in ballot titles.

Ballot titles, for anyone who doesn’t know, are the short statements that voters see before being asked to mark “Yes” or “No” to decide the fate of a proposed law. Whatever words they contain are the only words that appear on the actual ballot representing a proposed initiative.

Arguments against, arguments for, fiscal impact statements, the complete text, and related materials don’t show up on the ballot. Only the ballot title does. The ballot title’s composition is thus of paramount importance.

Ballot titles are supposed to be impartial, but in practice, they often aren’t, especially when the measures they are describing are deliberately loaded up with prejudicial language by their sponsors.

Manipulating ballot title language to present destructive tax-cutting schemes in the most favorable terms possible is one of Tim Eyman’s nefarious skills, but it’s a skill that would be of limited use in the future of HB 1876 passes. That’s because 1876 sensibly requires that voters be informed if an initiative has a fiscal impact. There would be a short statement appearing after the concise description but before the Yes or No ovals stating that the measure would either increase or decrease funding for public services, with the affected services then described.

This statement, which would be simple and factual, would be immune from the kinds of manipulations Eyman has perfected… and that makes him very, very angry.

HB 1876 recently passed the House of Representatives and is now being considered in the Senate. On Friday, February 18th, it got its hearing in the Senate State Government Committee. After being caught off guard by the House’s passage of the bill, Eyman made mobilizing his followers against 1876 a top priority, urging them to sign up to testify against the bill, sign in against it, or do both.

Dozens of people and organizations supporting the bill, meanwhile, did likewise, including NPI.

As a consequence of all of the interest, the Senate State Government Committee was not able to hear spoken testimony from everyone who had signed up to testify remotely.

However, each side was given an opportunity to make its case through a selected number of speakers, as is usual for bills that attract both support and opposition.

This morning, Eyman gloated that his followers’ turnout was a “crushing victory”:

Crushing victory at Friday’s hearing: massive # of folks against anti-initiative bill: 857 con, 37 in-person pro.

Someone not familiar with how legislative testimony works might think upon reading this that there were twenty-three times as many people registering opposition to the bill as support.

But that would be an incorrect conclusion. Here, Eyman is comparing two very different things: the total number of people who either signed up to testify or put their names down in opposition to the bill against only the people who signed up to testify in favor of the bill.

(Eyman’s reference to “in-person” is nonsensical, by the way: this was an electronic hearing and no one appeared to testify in person. All testimony was accepted over Zoom.)

When he penned this morning’s missive, Eyman deliberately excluded hundreds of people who put their names down in favor the bill in the interest of peddling his “crushing victory” narrative. It is true that there were just thirty-seven people signed up to testify pro, and true that a total of eight hundred and fifty-seven people signed in con, or signed up to speak against.

But those are cherrypicked figures. An apples to apples comparison shows that the interest in the hearing was not as lopsided as Eyman claims:

Signed up to testify

37 pro
48 con
1 other
86 total sign-ups

Signed in, not wishing to testify

291 pro
2 other
809 con
1,102 total sign ins


Total pro: 328
Total con: 857

Some people signed in more than once, so the above figures include duplicates.

Eyman still could have bragged that the “con” side had higher numbers than the “pro” side without resorting to making a duplicitous comparison. But he went there anyway, because it’s what he does.

The number of sign-ups and sign-ins at a hearing is not a scientific measurement of public support for a bill, only an indication of how many activists or citizens were willing to take the time to respond to calls to action to participate in the legislative process. Looking at the sign-ins, we can see that a large number of people and organizations support the bill, including broad-based organizations with significant memberships, such as the League of Women Voters of Washington.

Eyman can gloat all he wants about his followers’ response to his furious appeals over the past week, but unfortunately for him, most Washingtonians are extremely supportive of legislation like HB 1876 that would add valuable context to initiative ballot titles.

Tim Eyman fails to qualify either I-1373 or I-1408 as an initiative to the Legislature

From the Campaign TrailStatements & Advisories

Tonight, at 5 PM Pacific Time, the deadline to submit signatures for initiatives to the 2022 Washington State Legislature will pass. Having failed to find megabucks to underwrite a signature drive for his scheme to repeal Washington State’s new state capital gains tax on the wealthy, scandal-plagued initiative promoter Tim Eyman’s 2021 will be ending in yet another defeat.

This is the sixth straight July or December signature deadline that will have passed with no turn-in event by Eyman. He last qualified an initiative three years ago, in late 2018 (Initiative 976), which then appeared on the November 2019 ballot. Voters passed it, but it was overturned by the Washington State Supreme Court as unconstitutional.

Eyman initially planned on trying to qualify I-1373 to the 2022 Legislature, but switched to I-1408 after a few days, citing legal analysis prepared by Joel Ard, an attorney who has worked with Eyman in the past.

I-1408 was filed by Eyman’s friend Jim Walsh and is very similar to I-1373. Both initiatives were crafted with the goal of repealing the new capital gains tax on the wealthy along with Seattle’s JumpStart revenue plan. Eyman and his new associates Larry Jensen and Sid Maietto made a big show of being the first to sign a super-sized petition for I-1373 at a livestreamed event on September 9th, when they first announced they would attempt to restart Eyman’s initiative factory.

In a September 20th email, Eyman told his followers that getting I-1408 qualified was extremely important, because qualifying an initiative to the people next year would be “impossible.”

He also characterized it as the “only opportunity to kill off these income-based taxes.”

Here’s a lengthy excerpt from that email:

This is our ONLY opportunity to kill off these income-based taxes NOW AND IN THE FUTURE. This is our ONLY chance to get this critically important initiative on the November 2022 ballot (initiatives to the people next year will be impossible — California and other states are going to monopolize paid petitioners next year — Washington will never be able to compete).

Deadline to turn in voter signatures: Dec. 30th

Number of voter signatures needed: 400,000

Cost for a paid signature drive that guarantees I-1408 qualifies for the November 2022 ballot: $2.7 million.

To get that many signatures (400K) in such a short time-frame (Sept 9th through Dec 30th), we NEED a handful of “Mike Dunmires” to quickly step in and finance this signature drive.

We’re going to work really hard to find some Mike Dunmires to make I-1408 a reality. We NEED successful folks who are willing to break open their piggy banks to protect themselves and all of us from any kind of income tax NOW AND FOREVER.

Some of you can be a Mike Dunmire for this critical effort.

Many of you are friends with some Mike Dunmires.

Contact us if you’re able to connect us with them.

Despite publicly pleading for one or more “Mike Dunmires” to step forth and open their wallets, Eyman was unable to find any wealthy benefactors willing to restart his initiative factory.

That’s truly great news for Washington’s communities…. news worth celebrating as 2022 begins.

In recent weeks, Eyman’s focus has shifted back to making personal appeals for himself and denouncing Attorney General Bob Ferguson for seeking to hold him accountable for his repeated violations of Washington State’s public disclosure laws, though as recently as last week, Eyman was still including boilerplate pitches for I-1408 at the end of his email missives, like this:

And now a message from Larry Jensen & Sid Maietto:

We’re asking folks to donate to our PAC so we can stop all current and future income-based taxes with Jim Walsh’s Initiative 1408.

The taxpayers of Washington need our help now more than ever. Donate to our political committee so we can keep fighting for you.

An email sent by Eyman this morning did not include any I-1408 boilerplate or mention I-1408 at all. It’s a tacit admission by Eyman that he came up short.

Eyman has yet to explicitly acknowledge I-1408’s demise to his followers. And it’s possible he’ll never do so, as his usual practice is to quickly move on from failed cons.

As mentioned above, Eyman’s goal for the fourth quarter of 2022 was to raise $2.7 million to enable I-1408 to have a paid signature drive.

But by November’s end, Permanent Offense had only raised about a thousandth of that sum.

As of that point, evidence suggests Eyman had already given up on trying to find big money to qualify I-1408… though, as mentioned, he continued to use the measure’s existence and previously touted plans to qualify it as an excuse to appeal for donations to Permanent Offense in emails.

C4 reports filed by Eyman’s treasurer state that Permanent Offense took in just $566.10 from September 1st-October 11th, $345 from October 12th-25th, and $1,930.55 from October 26th-November 30th (total cash and in-kind contributions). The committee spent $10,990.01, $32,727.61, and $3,326.42 during those same periods. That’s far more than it raised.

“Without an ample supply of money, the gears of Tim Eyman’s initiative factory cannot turn,” said Northwest Progressive Institute founder and executive director Andrew Villeneuve.

“It was refreshing back in September to hear Tim Eyman admit that he needed to find some ‘Mike Dunmires’ to get his con off the ground, after so many years of pretending to be a grassroots campaigner when he was really a rich man’s operative, working furiously to keep Washington’s tax code rigged in favor of the wealthy and powerful through deceitful initiatives. Having failed to land any six-figure donors, Permanent Offense now has less cash than it had before Eyman attempted to qualify I-1408 to the Legislature.”

“Though Eyman has said it will be ‘impossible’ to qualify anything to the ballot next spring due to California and other states monopolizing paid petitioner labor, we won’t be surprised if he tries again. In the event he is able to persuade wealthy benefactors to bankroll him, we will be ready to respond. The adoption of Washington State’s new state capital gains tax is an incredibly important step towards a fairer, more equitable tax code, and must be defended. The tax is slated to begin to be collected in 2022. It will raise hundreds of millions of dollars to strengthen public education and childcare. NPI’s polling shows that most Washingtonians support levying a capital gains tax on the wealthy and remain supportive after hearing the false argument that the new capital gains tax is an ‘illegal and unconstitutional income tax.'”

“These are difficult times, and the last thing we need are more threats to Washington’s future. So here’s to the demise of I-1373 and I-1408, and any future initiatives like them.”

“Happy New Year 2022!”

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