Fourteen Years: Statement from the Founder

Statements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis

Today and throughout this month, Permanent Defense celebrates its fourteenth anniversary, marking one hundred and sixty-eight months of continuous operation. Since going live on February 15th, 2002, Permanent Defense (PD) has been a fierce defender of Washington’s Constitution, common wealth, and vital public services, unceasingly organizing opposition to destructive initiatives proposed by Tim Eyman and other malicious actors.

Permanent Defense: Fourteen YearsPermanent Defense was born out of a realization that passivism (passive resistance) is a fatal response to right wing initiatives. We believe that only effective antidote to Tim Eyman’s toxic politics and destructive initiatives is relentless activism that informs, educates, and persuades the public to protect their public services by rejecting Eyman’s snake oil and voting against his schemes when they appear on the ballot. PD exists to provide such antidote, on a year-round basis, as the oldest project of the Northwest Progressive Institute (NPI).

Today marks the conclusion of Permanent Defense’s fourteenth year and the beginning of its fifteenth. Last February, we were able to celebrate the first Eyman-free November in eight years. Unfortunately, as we anticipated might happen, Eyman was able to line up new wealthy benefactors to get the gears of his initiative factory turning again. With an ample supply of cash from real estate developers and hedge fund managers, Eyman was able to buy his way onto the ballot with I-1366, a clone of I-1325, which failed to qualify in 2014.

With the possible exception of I-1033 from 2009, I-1366 is perhaps the most destructive initiative Eyman has ever qualified for the ballot.

Seemingly inspired by the failed federal government shutdown of 2013 orchestrated by Ted Cruz, I-1366 threatened to wipe out $8 billion in funding for our public schools and other vital public services unless the Legislature capitulated to Tim Eyman’s demand to overturn the Supreme Court’s League of Education Voters decision by April 15th, 2016. LEV is the Court’s landmark decision upholding Article II, Section 22 of our Constitution, which provides that all bills shall pass by majority vote of greater than fifty percent. That includes revenue bills, which Eyman has always wanted subjected to an undemocratic higher standard of two-thirds.

From the day we learned that Eyman was printing petitions for I-1366, we began organizing to defeat it. There was no point in waiting — it would have meant squandering valuable time. We spent the first half of 2015 in coalition-building mode, building an online presence for the coming NO campaign and working to secure commitments from individuals and organizations in opposition to I-1366.

Once I-1366 made it to the ballot, we shifted into mobilization mode.

We supported the lawsuit to have I-1366 removed from the ballot due to being outside the scope of the initiative process, which sadly was not successful.

We launched a political action committee with bipartisan leadership to fight I-1366, and worked cooperatively with our allies to craft a strong con voter’s pamphlet statement.

We conducted research to discern how to most effectively counter Eyman’s deceptive sales pitch for I-1366.

We raised funds and placed ads to educate voters. We helped brief editorial boards and city councils so they could take an informed NO position.

We regularly published analysis documenting the harm I-1366 would do here on Permanent Defense and on NPI’s sister project websites.

We did more than we have ever done to defeat a Tim Eyman initiative, and yet it wasn’t enough. We fell short of victory in November when I-1366 narrowly passed. The November 2015 general election ended up setting a new record as the election with the worst voter turnout since the state began registering voters in the 1930s.

To have worked so hard and to have come up short by such a small margin was disappointing. Regrettably, the NO coalition lacked the financial muscle it should have had, and much of the money that was raised materialized late, after voters had already started voting. We probably could have defeated I-1366 had our community as a whole been more engaged and better organized. NPI’s Permanent Defense certainly did its part.

Though we didn’t have much to work with, we were still able to defeat I-1366 in four counties (King, Jefferson, Thurston, and San Juan) and significantly narrow Eyman’s margin of victory statewide. Impressively, as the count went on, the NO vote rose from 57% to more than 61% in King County.

We vowed on Election Night to keep fighting, and we have. We’re proud that our state’s Democratic representatives and senators stayed unified and refused to capitulate to Eyman in the wake of the election. We strongly support the lawsuit filed by our friends Reuven Carlyle, David Frockt, Eden Mack, Tony Lee, Angela Bartels, Paul Bell, and the League of Women Voters of Washington to have I-1366 invalidated.

We’ve already had one victory in that legal challenge. It was a joyous day when King County Superior Court Judge William Downing struck down Eyman’s I-1366 in its entirety as unconstitutional. Judge Downing agreed with all of our side’s arguments, finding that I-1366 was unconstitutional every way to Sunday.

Judge Downing’s decision has now been appealed to the Washington State Supreme Court, which will render a final verdict. Oral argument will be heard next month and a decision is expected sometime in the weeks to follow.

We believe we stand an excellent chance of winning on appeal, and we look forward to the day when we can add I-1366 to Tim Eyman’s Failure Chart.

At the same time we were organizing against I-1366, we kept on encouraging the Public Disclosure Commission to finish its long-delayed investigation into Tim Eyman’s willful violations of our state’s public disclosure law. Our efforts were rewarded in September of 2016 when PDC staff wrapped up their investigation and presented their findings to the Public Disclosure Commission, which unanimously voted to refer the case to Attorney General Bob Ferguson for prosecution.

We have long believed that Eyman was getting kickbacks from the paid signature gathering company he hires every year. Without being able to examine that firm’s books, we couldn’t prove it. But PDC staff were able to confirm that it was happening.

And the Commissioners, recognizing and appreciating the severity of Eyman’s offenses, deemed that a more comprehensive investigation was warranted. They asked Attorney General Ferguson to broaden the scope of the investigation to discern whether Eyman’s 2012 violations were part of a larger pattern.

This investigation is currently ongoing, and we hope it results in Tim Eyman being held accountable in a court of law.

In the meantime, we have an important success to celebrate: the opening of Sound Transit’s University Link light rail extension. U-Link is opening months ahead of schedule and under budget, thanks to outstanding project management by Sound Transit and the contractors it selected to build the project.

We would not be celebrating University Link’s grand opening this spring had Tim Eyman succeeded in his early 2000s campaign to destroy Sound Transit and prevent it from building the rail spine our region desperately needs and deserves. Fortunately, Eyman’s war on Sound Transit was a failure. ST survived, endured, and today is one of the highest-performing and most widely respected regional transit agencies in the country. The agency has delivered Central Link, Airport Link, and now University Link light rail, with the Angle Lake Link extension due this autumn.

In 2002, at the time Permanent Defense was founded, Sound Transit didn’t have many friends. It was under attack in the press, in the courts, and via initiative (thanks to Eyman). Permanent Defense stood with Sound Transit against those attacks, and made the defeat of Eyman’s I-776 its first priority.

Even after I-776 narrowly passed, we didn’t give up. We vowed to keep on fighting, and Sound Transit did likewise, managing to get I-776 partially invalidated in court and securing federal funding to break ground on Central Link.

Since that first campaign, we have fought numerous Eyman initiatives that tried to mess with Sound Transit and WSDOT in one way or another. Most of those schemes have been failures. But Eyman hasn’t given up. He resents our success and still wants to see Sound Transit destroyed. Eyman recently redeclared war on Sound Transit by announcing his intention to qualify I-1421 to the November 2016 statewide ballot. I-1421 seeks to repeal one of the funding sources the Legislature made available to Sound Transit for its Phase III (ST3) expansion package. It would also repeal billions of dollars in funding for Amtrak Cascades and freight mobility projects.

I-1421 must be defeated — and it can be, if it is effectively opposed. We will be at the forefront of efforts to ensure that it is.

Eyman has also threatened to qualify a second initiative to the November 2016 ballot. This one, intended as a sequel to I-1366, is an attempt to slap a one-year expiration date on any future revenue increase. It’s unconstitutional, of course, but Eyman doesn’t care.

Eyman already has $1.2 million in financing lined up to qualify these measures. Three-quarters of that sum came from his wealthy benefactors.

Eyman is already circulating petitions for I-1421, and will doubtless be printing up petitions for his other scheme by the time spring gets underway.

We can save ourselves and the state we love a lot of trouble in 2017 and beyond if we stop Eyman cold at the ballot this year. Though we appreciate the fine work of Paul Lawrence and the Pacifica Law Group legal team, it shouldn’t be necessary to have to go to court to get Eyman’s malicious schemes thrown out. These terrible initiatives shouldn’t be getting past the voters in the first place.

After our experience fighting I-1366 last year, we resolved to work more proactively to raise money on a year-round basis as well as organize. Permanent Defense’s parent organization NPI raises money year-round, but the vast majority of it goes to support NPI’s core mission along with NPI’s other projects and publications.

We came to the decision last year that to become more effective, Permanent Defense needed its own treasury. And so, we’ve given it one. Today, we are proud to announce the formation of Permanent Defense PAC, a continuing political action committee that will serve as a bulwark against Tim Eyman’s noxious initiative factory. Donations to Permanent Defense PAC will be used to ensure Eyman’s destructive initiatives are met with the vigorous opposition they deserve. You can contribute to Permanent Defense online or by mail (PO Box Redmond, WA 98073).

Here are three other ways you can help:

  • If you are not a member of the Northwest Progressive Institute, we urge you to become one. Members are the backbone of NPI’s supporter community, providing the time, talent, and treasure that makes NPI’s work possible.
  • If you see a petitioner collecting signatures for an Eyman measure like I-1421, we ask that you report your experience immediately so we can track Eyman’s signature drives.
  • And if you are free on the evening of April 1st, 2016, we encourage you to join us for NPI’s eighth Spring Fundraising Gala, where we will talk about our next steps for 2016 and beyond.

As I said last year, through perseverance and hard work, we have won many victories over the years. Tim Eyman may be relentless, but so are we. We don’t give in and we don’t give up, because our Constitution and our commonwealth need safeguarding.

We need this fighting spirit to be contagious. Join us in helping make it so.

Here’s to a great fifteenth year for Permanent Defense.

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Permanent Defense works to protect Washington by building a first line of defense against threats to the common wealth and Constitution of the Evergreen State — like Tim Eyman's initiative factory. Learn more.

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