September 26th, 2016
NPI thanks Attorney General Bob Ferguson for filing three new campaign finance complaints against Tim Eyman
Today, Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office announced that the State of Washington has filed three new campaign finance complaints against initiative promoter Tim Eyman and his associates in Thurston County Superior Court. The complaints concern violations of RCW Chapter 42.17A uncovered by NPI’s Permanent Defense, Washingtonians For Ethical Government (WFEG), and Keep Washington Rolling (KWR), which were the subject of a set of citizen action notices sent by WFEG and KWR in May and June.
RCW 42.17A.765 (4) allows a person or organization who believes Washington’s public disclosure laws to have been violated to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the state to enforce the law, but only if the Attorney General and the Prosecuting Attorney of the county in which the violation occurred are given an opportunity to sue first and choose not to do so.
The citizen’s action is a crucially important enforcement tool, because the Public Disclosure Commission can take a long time to process traditional complaints due to being underfunded and understaffed. For example, more than three years transpired before Sherry Bockwinkel’s 2012 complaint against Tim Eyman and his campaign committees was fully investigated by PDC staff and acted on by the Commission.
One year ago, in September of 2015, the PDC unanimously voted to refer that case to Ferguson’s office for further action. Ferguon’s investigators have spent months trying to acquire the evidence they need to complete their investigation, but they’ve been hindered by Eyman and his associates’ repeated refusal to cooperate. Over the summer, attorneys representing the people of Washington went to court to compel Eyman’s cooperation.
In the meantime, Eyman has continued to brazenly flout RCW Chapter 42.17A. NPI believes aggressive and timely enforcement is needed to prevent Eyman from making a mockery of Washington’s public disclosure laws, and is committed to doing its part to uncover future potential violations and laying the groundwork for speedy prosecution of those violations.
Working with Washingtonians For Ethical Government, NPI recently discovered that Eyman had once again broken the law by concealing the source of most of the funds raised by his newest political committee, We Love Our Cars, which was formed in June. This month, WFEG notified Attorney General Ferguson and King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg it plans to file suit against Eyman over this concealment through another citizen’s action.
“Tim Eyman is a serial offender who continues to violate our public disclosure laws with impunity,” said Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve, who also serves as a boardmember of Washingtonians For Ethical Government. “Justice is not served when it takes years for prolific violators like Eyman to be held accountable for flouting the basic reporting rules established by the people and the people’s legislators to shine a light on money in politics in Washington.”
“Fortunately, the law provides a useful tool for expediting enforcement: the citizen’s action. These complaints all appropriately began with the sending of citizen’s action notices. We thank Attorney General Ferguson for stepping up to take on these cases. We will be following future developments with great interest.”