December 2nd, 2016
Initiative promoter Tim Eyman is facing new charges that he failed to follow Washington’s public disclosure laws when he set up his latest ballot measure committee (“We Love Our Cars”) after attorneys for the State of Washington filed an amended campaign finance complaint against him and his co-defendants in Thurston County Superior Court.
The amended complaint was prompted by a citizen’s action notice filed on September 16th by Washingtonians For Ethical Government (WFEG), a nonprofit founded to serve as a people’s campaign finance watchdog for the Evergreen State.
WFEG previously sent a citizen’s action notice in the spring that alleged another one of Eyman’s committees had failed to properly report an independent expenditure. PDC staff found merit to the allegations and they were incorporated into one of three complaints filed by Ferguson’s office in Thurston County Superior Court back in September.
WFEG boardmember and Northwest Progressive Institute (NPI) Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve thanked Attorney General Ferguson’s office for reviewing the allegations and determining there was sufficient evidence to file new charges.
“Tim Eyman is a serial violator of our state’s public disclosure laws,” said Villeneuve. “Even while under investigation for concealment by Attorney General Ferguson’s office, Eyman and his associates have continued to brazenly flout RCW Chapter 42.17A. When they set up their newest committee, ‘We Love Our Cars’, they failed to account for where the committee’s startup money, totaling $143,947.61, came from. The law explicitly requires that they report the source of their contributions. They didn’t do that when they set up this committee, and incredibly, they still haven’t.”
“We Love Our Cars” was formed to promote I-869, an initiative to the Legislature intended to wipe out funding for Sound Transit, Amtrak Cascades, and WSDOT’s freight mobility programs. In emails to his followers, Eyman is still regularly pitching the initiative and asking for money to qualify it, but NPI has found no evidence of a signature drive and the committee’s only reported expenditures in months have been to reimburse Eyman for travel expenses and computer and telephone expenses.
The deadline to submit signatures for initiatives to the 2017 Legislature is at the end of this month, so Eyman only has a few more weeks to pretend that I-869 is an active effort.
Eyman and his associates are already in trouble for a number of previous violations of RCW Chapter 42.17A, including violations uncovered by the Northwest Progressive Institute and Washingtonians For Ethical Government earlier this year.
As mentioned, the discovery of these violations led to the filing of three lawsuits in September by Ferguson’s office, one of which has now been amended to incorporate the new charges.
“Tim Eyman and his associates have been in politics for a long time and must be held accountable for their continued lawbreaking,” said Villeneuve. “They have been given many, many chances to voluntarily comply with the reporting requirements of RCW Chapter 42.17A and clean up their act. They have neglected to do so. Significant penalties should be imposed by the courts against them as a consequence.”
Washingtonians For Ethical Government is represented by Knoll Lowney of Smith & Lowney, PLLC. Knoll Lowney’s past 45-day notice letters have resulted in significant penalties and litigation. His 45-day notice letter against the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) resulted in the imposition of a $584,000 penalty against the BIAW’s for-profit affiliate. More recently, his 45-day notice letter against the Grocery Manufacturers Association led to Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office litigating what it calls “the largest political funding concealment case in state history.”