We’re ready to go to bat again to stop Tim Eyman’s I-976 and defend our voter-approved transit projects

Statements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis

The freedom to travel light is a beautiful thing

Freedom of mobility — the freedom to travel light — is a beautiful thing.

More people need that freedom.

But if Tim Eyman succeeds with his fourth attempt in three years to eviscerate funding for Sound Transit, Amtrak Cascades, Metro bus service, and local transportation benefit districts around Washington State, sorely needed efforts to make freedom of mobility a reality for millions of Washingtonians a reality will be gravely harmed.

That’s why we’re springing into action to defeat Tim Eyman’s I-976, which Eyman filed last month and claimed he has money to pursue today. In the coming weeks, we will do everything we can to mobilize a coalition to successfully defend the multimodal transportation investments we’ve committed to.

For over sixteen years, Permanent Defense has worked in partnership with like-minded Washingtonians to safeguard the future of transit. That work continues in 2018.

When PD started in 2002, Washington’s largest urban center barely had any rail transit. Today, we have the Tacoma Link Streetcar, two Seattle Streetcar lines, a Sounder North commuter line, an expanded Sounder South commuter line reaching all the way to Lakewood, and a growing Link light rail spine consisting of sixteen stations, with three more due in 2021 and over a dozen due in 2023. In many communities, we also have expanded bus service, more bike lanes and bike paths, and additional sidewalks.

Washington State as a whole, meanwhile, has expanded Amtrak Cascades and given cities and counties tools for funding the transit and local road improvements they need… tools like transportation benefit districts, or TBDs.

All of these investments are now threatened by Tim Eyman and whichever wealthy benefactor has been so foolish as to give Eyman half a million dollars to do I-976.

This threat deserves to be met with immediate, vigorous opposition — and it will be.

To all Washingtonians who understand that a people-oriented transportation system can’t just be about more pavement for more cars, we invite you to join us.

How can you help? For starters, make a donation to Permanent Defense PAC, or sign up to receive NO on I-976 updates from Permanent Defense. By getting involved, you can be a part of protecting freedom of mobility in Washington State.

Don’t get scammed! Washingtonians, shun Tim Eyman’s I-977

Rethinking and ReframingStatements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis

Well, that didn’t take long.

After failing to interest his wealthy benefactors in a proposal to force a vote on the idea of banning taxes on wealth — and after failing to convince Cooke Aquaculture to give him money to run a referendum campaign to force a vote on the state’s new law phasing out the farming of invasive fish — disgraced initiative promoter Tim Eyman has a new con.

Eyman revealed in an email this morning that he’s picked a new scheme to hawk that he hopes will return his initiative factory to relevance in 2019: Initiative 977, a measure that would apply the Public Records Act (as currently written) to the state Legislature.

Back in December, Eyman told KOMO 4 News and NPI that his initiative for 2018 would be a ban on capital gains taxes and income taxes.

But as we said at the time, that initiative was dead on arrival unless Eyman found wealthy benefactors to pony up the money to finance a signature drive. He didn’t, and has now given up any pretense of qualifying that scheme to the November 2018 ballot.

More recently, Eyman tried to interest Cooke Aquaculture in giving him money to front a referendum campaign that would have subject State Representative Kris Lytton’s bill phasing out the farming of invasive fish to a public vote. But Cooke’s Joel Richardson made it clear that’s not going to happen, telling The Undercurrent and The Seattle Times the company had no interest in being associated with Eyman — to Eyman’s deep disgust.

Having failed to get either of those schemes off the ground for 2018, Eyman appears to have thrown in the towel on making the November ballot this annum, which would mean that for the third consecutive year, Washingtonians will not see any initiative on their general election ballots with Eyman’s name on it. That has not happened since the 1990s.

Instead, Eyman is trying for 2019 with Initiative 977, an initiative to the Legislature. Eyman is apparently hoping that he can rebound with a measure that will appeal to a wider spectrum of Washingtonians than his usual destructive tax-cutting and tax-limiting schemes, which he has had no success trying to get on the ballot the last few years.

But no one should be fooled. Tim Eyman is not doing I-977 because he believes in the cause of open government. He’s doing it because he’s desperate to regain relevance, and he’s willing to latch on to any cause that might attract volunteer signature gatherers.

“I-977 is a scam that all Washingtonians should steer clear of,” said Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve, who has over sixteen years of experience organizing opposition to Tim Eyman initiatives. “Nothing good can come from working with Tim Eyman, no matter how noble the cause may seem.”

“Tim has proved, repeatedly, that he is unworthy of anyone’s trust. He lies with impunity to the press, the public, and his own supporters on a regular basis. He has taken money given to him for one initiative and secretly used it on another. He has steered money he said would be used on initiative campaigns into his own pockets for his personal use. And he has refused to cooperate when the authorities showed up to investigate.”

“Eyman’s I-977 petition design contains a headline that screams ‘What are they hiding?’ We could ask the same question about his initiative factory. What’s he hiding?”

“For years, Eyman has tried to obstruct the State’s investigation into his lawbreaking by withholding documents and records sought by the State to establish the truth as to what really happened. This pattern of obstruction continued even after the State filed four actions against Eyman in Superior Court following investigations by the PDC and the AG’s office, and it has now resulted in Eyman and his associates being held in contempt of court by Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon.”

“Fortunately, Washington already has organizations like the Washington Coalition for Open Government (WCOG) and the Allied Daily Newspapers of Washington working on the cause of open, more transparent government,” Villeneuve noted.

“Tim Eyman is about the least qualified person in our state to helm an initiative that aims to make government more transparent.”

“Before and during the 2019 session, there will be opportunities for media, lawmakers, and activists alike to meet and propose ideas for making the Legislature’s business more transparent. That process, not Eyman’s I-977, is the way forward,” Villeneuve said.

Daily Herald of Everett, AP join Seattle P-I in covering the news that Tim Eyman was held in contempt of court

In the Courts

Last Friday, Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon found Tim Eyman in contempt of court in the main State of Washington v. Tim Eyman campaign finance enforcement case. It was a pretty significant development in the lawsuit, which was filed almost a year ago, but it only got covered by one major media outlet that day: the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, which ran a thorough story by columnist and reporter Joel Connelly.

Now, thankfully, The Herald of Everett has joined the party, with a lengthy article by columnist and reporter Jerry Cornfield that is also being carried in other publications like The Seattle Times and U.S. News & World Report via the Associated Press.

Cornfield opted to cover both the contempt finding and Eyman’s recently-announced suit seeking to block the Legislature’s I-940 compromise in the same piece; but the version distributed by the Associated Press omits the passages about Eyman’s lawsuit and only presents the news about Eyman being held in contempt.

That’s sure to irritate Eyman, who undoubtedly hoped that the filing of the lawsuit would bury the news of the contempt finding and get him ink, airtime, and pixels on his terms.

Although Attorney General Bob Ferguson did not issue a news release following Friday’s decision by Judge Dixon, he did comment on the record for Connelly and Cornfield.

Here are his comments on the contempt finding:

The court today found Tim Eyman and his co-defendants are in contempt because of their failure to fully comply with our discovery requests. Mr. Eyman has resisted our efforts to shine a light on his activities every step of the way. Hopefully, the contempt sanctions will finally motivate Mr. Eyman and his associates to comply with the court’s order to produce the requested documents, including relevant financial information.

Dixon’s written order has not yet been released, but when it is, we will publish a link to it.

Tim Eyman’s stonewalling finally lands him in contempt of court

In the Courts

Today, Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon held Tim Eyman in contempt of court for failing to turn over records needed to move forward in the State of Washington’s principal case against Eyman for serious violations of our public disclosure laws. Eyman and his co-defendants have each been ordered to pay $250 per day in penalties, dating back to February 16th, 2018, until their contempt is purged.

Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve, who has been organizing opposition to Eyman’s initiative factory for over sixteen years, suggested tougher penalties may be needed to put an end to Eyman’s stonewalling.

“The team at NPI thanks Judge Dixon for holding Tim Eyman in contempt of court for his endless stonewalling, but we think a fine of $2,000 per day, as proposed by Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office, would have been more appropriate,” said Villeneuve.

“From the beginning, Eyman has done everything possible to impede and obstruct this investigation while disingenuously claiming to be cooperative. The timeline bears this out. Five years have now passed since the Public Disclosure Commission began investigating this matter, while two and a half years have passed since that investigation was handed off to Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office. Here we are in March of 2018, with nearly a year having been passed since the State filed an action in Superior Court, and Eyman is still withholding records needed to proceed with the case. That’s unacceptable.”

The case number is 17-2-01546-34.

Panicking Tim Eyman tries new gimmick to stop initiative reform: Impersonating Secretary of State Kim Wyman

Legislation & TestimonyRethinking and Reframing

Bipartisan legislation that would address abuse of our state’s initiative and referendum powers by combating issues like signature fraud and petitioner misconduct continues to progress closer to becoming a reality in Olympia, thanks to the new dynamic in the statehouse created by Manka Dhingra’s victory in the 45th District last year.

That’s welcome news for Washingtonians, but not for disgraced initiative promoter Tim Eyman, who is in full-blown panic mode over the prospect of the bill’s passage.

This week, following the Senate’s overwhelming passage of ESSB 5397, Eyman tried to convince Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman to publicly oppose the bill by instructing his followers to email her at both her official and nonofficial email addresses, and to copy him on those messages. But Wyman hasn’t budged. She’s chosen to be neutral.

Frustrated, Eyman decided today to send out an email with a false premise and false subject line… one that made it sound like Wyman had come over to his side (Sec of State Kim Wyman’s heroic & courageous opposition to anti-initiative bill).

“In the Legislature, ninety-nine times out of one hundred, powerful special interest groups call the shots, politicians bow to their will, and the voices of grassroots citizens are completely ignored. That’s what makes what Sec of State Kim Wyman did today so unique. Don’t you find this statement inspiring?” the email began.

Eyman then proceeded to impersonate Wyman in a lengthy statement that made a lot of bogus and erroneous arguments against ESSB 5397.

Only at the end of his message did Eyman concede the whole thing was a fabrication made up by him, sulkily admitting: “Too bad Kim Wyman didn’t send out that statement. Instead she skipped yesterday’s hearing [in the House State Government Committee] and just sent out an email this morning saying she’s neutral on the bill.”

Eyman did not bother to include the text of Wyman’s message from her Legislative Relations Director stating her actual position. But we’ve included it below for reference.

Sadly, this kind of duplicitous communication is par for the course for Eyman, who has a long history of resorting to inappropriate stunts and gimmicks in an attempt to attract media coverage and dupe people into backing his agenda.

NPI’s Permanent Defense project has now worked for sixteen years to counter Eyman’s misinformation and remains committed to ensuring that Eyman gets the vigorous, unceasing opposition that he deserves.

Kim Wyman’s actual position on ESSB 5397

Thank you for reaching out to the Office of Secretary of State to communicate your concerns regarding Senate Bill 5397.

To be clear, this bill does not change or alter the process in which the Elections Division of the Secretary of State’s office certifies an initiative or referendum, nor does it create any additional requirements for volunteer signature gatherers.

It would, however, require entities [campaigns] that hire petition signature gatherers to disclose to the public the identities and other information of those [companies] who employ paid signature gatherers. The bill places those disclosure processes with the Public Disclosure Commission.

Both the initiative and referendum filing and certification processes would remain unchanged by this bill. The State Elections Division checks every signature sheet submitted for evidence of fraud and also checks suspect petition signatures against signatures in the Washington State Voter Registration Database. The courts have found that our signature-checking process is the most effective way to prevent fraudulent signatures from getting an unqualified measure on the ballot.

The Washington State Constitution guarantees citizens the right to initiative and referenda – a right I fully support and do not want to see diminished. I also support transparency in the elections process, which is critical to maintaining the integrity of the system and upholding the public trust.

For these reasons, and because this bill has no impact on [legitimate] petition signatures, does not change the initiative and referendum process, nor does it change my office’s role in certifying a submitted ballot measure, I have taken a neutral position on Senate Bill 5397 and its companion, House Bill 1537, throughout this legislative session.

I encourage you to contact your representatives in the Washington State Senate and House of Representatives and share your concerns, as they will ultimately determine the fate of this legislation.

 

Reality check: Petitioning disclosure bill was crafted to be constitutional

Legislation & TestimonyRethinking and Reframing

Contrary to what Tim Eyman has claimed, there’s nothing unconstitutional about requiring ballot measure campaigns to report within ten days when they have hired a signature gathering company to circulate petitions for them or requiring companies to keep accurate, up to date records about their workers for their protection and the public’s protection.

Keep reading

Lawmakers are discussing levying a capital gains tax because most Washingtonians want progressive tax reform

Legislation & TestimonyRethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

Next Friday, the House Finance Committee will be holding a hearing on Representative Kris Lytton’s HB 2967, which would levy a capital gains excise tax on the wealthiest Washingtonians and use the revenue to partially offset recent property tax increases.

The prospect of a capital gains tax (which Oregon and Idaho already have) terrifies disgraced initiative promoter Tim Eyman, who selfishly wants Washington’s tax code to remain as upside down as possible so there will always be an appetite for future anti-tax initiatives sponsored by him and his buddies Jack and Mike Fagan.

Accordingly, Eyman has taken a break from bashing lawmakers over the prospect of initiative process reform (which also terrifies him) to launch a broadside against the bill, in which he compared taxes to heroin, and legislators to heroin users.

“The first injection of heroin is a rush, but after that the user needs more and more and more to get that same feeling,” Eyman wrote. “It’s like that with politicians and taxes — they love the feeling of euphoria that comes from imposing a new tax, but they need to increase it again and again and again to maintain their high.”

This is utter nonsense, of course — anyone who has reported on the Legislature or followed the Legislature for any length of time knows that revenue bills are huge lifts that can require years of work, even when there are Republican lawmakers who are willing to vote aye — but the more important point here is that lawmakers are contemplating a levying a capital gains tax on the wealthy because the people of Washington want one.

NPI’s statewide research surveys have consistently found robust majorities in support of the idea of a capital gains tax on the wealthy. In 2015, when we first asked about the idea, 55% of respondents answered favorably. Last year, when we surveyed 887 likely November voters, the percentage in support of a capital gains tax was 57%.

Here’s the question we asked:

Do you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose taxing the capital gains of wealthy individuals to help pay for public schools, colleges and universities?

Answers were as follows:

  • Support: 57%
    • Strongly support: 44%
    • Somewhat support: 13%
  • Oppose: 41%
    • Somewhat oppose: 12%
    • Strongly oppose: 29%
  • Not sure: 1%

Conducted by the respected firm Public Policy Polling, the aforementioned survey of 887 likely 2018 Washington State voters was in the field from June 27th-28th, 2017; all respondents participated via landline. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.3% at the 95% confidence level.

“Washington has many strengths as a state, but our tax code is not one of them,” noted NPI founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve. “Our regressive tax code requires those with the least to pay the most as a percentage of their income. That’s upside down. Levying a capital gains excise tax would enable us to take a step towards correcting this imbalance. A just tax system should be based on ability to pay, and ours isn’t. This is a problem Washingtonians want to see their elected representatives address.”

The fiscal note for HB 2967 is available from the Office of Financial Management (OFM). The fiscal note assumes that approximately 48,000 taxpayers would pay capital gains taxes (for taxes due in 2020) if the bill were adopted in its current form. $824.5 million would be raised in Fiscal Year 2020, and $447 million in Fiscal Year 2021.

The state also created a ten-year fiscal projection for HB 2967 as required by Tim Eyman’s I-960, which Eyman linked to in his email. NPI would like to remind you that ten-year fiscal projections only exist for the purpose of allowing Tim Eyman to throw around really big, misleading numbers when he sends out his anti-tax email missives.

Anything sounds much more impressive when you take it out over ten years. Multiply your current annual wages by ten, for example, and you’ll end up with a much bigger number.

That number ostensibly represents how much you’ll be paid  — but for the next decade as opposed to the current year. It’s highly misleading, because your compensation is very likely to change over the next decade. You may even change jobs or employers, and end up with a different salary or pay structure. It is a well understood precept of forecasting that the farther out a forecast goes, the more likely it is to be in error.

The ten-year fiscal projections Eyman’s I-960 stupidly requires for revenue bills are no more useful than ten-year compensation projections, and should be ignored.

NPI plans to offer testimony in support of HB 2967 at next Friday’s hearing of the House Finance Committee. Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve will be available before or after the hearing for interviews.

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