February 15th, 2017
Fifteen Years: Statement from the Founder
Today and throughout this month, Permanent Defense celebrates its fifteenth anniversary, marking one hundred and eighty months of continuous operation.
And what an occasion this is! Fifteen years is unquestionably a big milestone, but what makes this anniversary all the more special is that it caps the most successful and extraordinary year in Permanent Defense’s history. We celebrated a lot of victories these past twelve months… from the opening of three new Link light rail stations to the passage of Sound Transit 3 to the Supreme Court’s verdict striking down Tim Eyman’s I-1366 to the right wing’s failure to qualify anything to the November 2016 ballot.
The theme of our work this past year was prevention, as in an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. To that end, we worked tirelessly to hold Tim Eyman accountable for his continued flouting of our public disclosure laws.
Our efforts met with great success.
Acting on our research, our partner Washingtonians For Ethical Government filed two citizen’s action notices against Eyman and his operation, both of which resulted in charges being filed against Eyman by Attorney General Bob Ferguson. Our friends at Keep Washington Rolling, meanwhile, piled on with their own citizen’s action notices. As a consequence, there are now three pending lawsuits against Tim Eyman and his committees, in addition to Ferguson’s investigation into Eyman’s grand scheme to conceal the kickbacks he was getting from his buddies Roy Ruffino and Eddie Agazarm.
I could not be prouder of what Permanent Defense has accomplished during its fifteenth year. When we successfully neutralize threats to our Constitution and commonwealth, it makes it easier for our movement to go on offense and pursue the implementation of policy directions that improve people’s lives.
That’s exactly what happened this past year. For example, instead of having to fight a draconian Tim Eyman initiative that would have slashed funding for Sound Transit, Amtrak Cascades, and WSDOT’s freight mobility programs, we were able to concentrate on building public support for transit expansion. And we won!
Over the next few decades, we’ll be investing billions of dollars to build out a regional light rail spine and expand bus and commuter rail service.
Fifteen years ago, when Permanent Defense was founded, Tim Eyman was trying to destroy Sound Transit’s Link light rail spine (then unbuilt) by ripping away its funding with a statewide initiative. Permanent Defense’s very first mission was to vigorously oppose that initiative, I-776, and support Sound Transit at a time when Sound Transit had few friends and a great many enemies.
Although I-776 narrowly passed, the funding for Link light rail was saved, and construction began the following year, with service beginning in 2009.
It feels as though we’ve now come full circle.
In 2002, despite having been caught pocketing his own supporters’ money and lying about it, Eyman was still able to qualify I-776 to the ballot. He was down, but not out.
But in 2016, Eyman was both down and out. He tried twice to qualify schemes to defund Sound Transit and couldn’t convince his wealthy benefactors to buy in.
Perhaps Eyman’s benefactors stood him up because he betrayed their trust. He lies to everyone else — the press, the public, the shrinking band of followers who are still subscribed to his emails — it stands to reason he lies to his big funders, too.
Eyman’s credibility ought to have disappeared the moment he confessed to having taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations to pay himself. When I saw that wasn’t going to happen, I founded Permanent Defense to make it happen.
For fifteen years now, we have fought back against Eyman’s initiative factory, debunking lie after lie and exposing deception after deception. And we are winning. Washington is a stronger, safer, freer state because of NPI’s Permanent Defense.
Before PD’s founding, Eyman was winning at the ballot every year. Since PD’s founding, Eyman has no consecutive victories — and many consecutive failures.
But we cannot rest on our laurels. It is a dark time for our country. We need Washington State to be a beacon of light in this darkness. Permanent Defense’s work has never been more important. And with your support, it will continue.
PD now maintains an emergency response fund so that we can spring into action and accelerate coalition building efforts in the event that we assess that a future right wing initiative is likely to make the statewide ballot. Eyman and the mean-spirited campaign behind last year’s failed assault on transgender rights are both seeking to qualify schemes to the 2017 ballot. They can and must be stopped.
Together, we have helped protect Washington against a slew of toxic threats to its future. Here’s to another year of victories. Thanks to everyone who has ever made a donation, volunteered, or offered a kind word of encouragement to keep Permanent Defense going.
I hope you enjoy the following chronology of great moments from our fifteenth year.
University Link opens six months ahead of schedule
On March 18th, 2016, Sound Transit inaugurated service on the much anticipated University Link light rail extension, adding two new stations to the region’s growing rail spine (Capitol Hill and University of Washington). NPI covered both days of opening celebrations live through Permanent Defense’s sister projects. The launch of University Link led to an almost immediate light rail ridership boom, with commuters and tourists alike voting with their feet and ORCA cards to take Link.
Permanent Defense, Washingtonians For Ethical Government thwart Tim Eyman’s illegal ad campaign
On May 24th, armed with NPI/Permanent Defense’s research, Washingtonians For Ethical Government filed a citizen’s action notice against Tim Eyman, alleging that Eyman violated public disclosure laws by running online ads against Democratic lawmakers without properly disclosing them as independent expenditures.
After receiving WFEG’s notice of intent to sue, Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office asked the Public Disclosure Commission to investigate.
The PDC looked into our allegations, and found “multiple apparent violations” of Chapter 42.17A, Washington’s public disclosure law. As the PDC was investigating, Eyman took down all of the ads and nixed the website created to promote them.
The PDC unanimously recommended that Ferguson prosecute the violations several weeks later. In September, Ferguson did just that, filing three lawsuits against Eyman and his committees which included charges stemming from WFEG’s citizen action notice.
Supreme Court gives Tim Eyman’s I-1366 a final burial
On May 26th, the Washington State Supreme Court unanimously upheld Judge William Downing’s ruling in Lee v. State, holding that Tim Eyman’s hostage-taking I-1366 is unconstitutional in its entirety. The verdict set an important precedent against future attempts to blackmail the Legislature through the initiative process, and sent I-1366 to the political graveyard it belongs in.
Tim Eyman fails to make the November 2016 ballot
On June 2nd, Tim Eyman conceded that he would not make the November 2016 ballot with either of the schemes he had planned to qualify, admitting to The Herald’s Jerry Cornfield that I-1421, announced just a week prior to Permanent Defense’s fourteenth anniversary, “didn’t take off“. What Eyman meant by that was that he was unable to persuade any his wealthy benefactors to give him megabucks to bring in out of state petitioners to collect the necessary signatures. We had been unable to find any evidence of an active signature drive in the weeks leading up to this admission. It was a joyous day when our assessment that Eyman would likely fail to qualify anything was proved correct.
Permanent Defense gets sleek new website
A few days later, on June 6th, Permanent Defense received its first major digital makeover in six years with the launch of Version 9.0, codenamed “Fidalgo”, featuring a brand new responsive design, breadcrumb navigation, and updated graphics. (Keeping with tradition, new iterations of the Permanent Defense website are named after islands in Washington State).
Sound Transit Board votes unanimously to send ambitious transit expansion package (ST3) to the ballot
On June 23rd, Sound Transit’s eighteen member Board of Directors voted unanimously to adopt a revised Phase III plan for system expansion and refer it to the voters of urban King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties for their consideration, successfully concluding several years of extensive planning and public outreach. I testified in support of the motion on behalf of NPI and Permanent Defense. Immediately following the board meeting, the Mass Transit Now coalition announced the launch of the campaign to pass Regional Proposition 1 on the November 2016 ballot.
I-1515 fails to qualify for the ballot
On July 7th, proponents of a mean-spirited initiative to repeal protections for transgender individuals conceded defeat, throwing in the towel after failing to complete a successful signature drive. I-1515’s demise resulted in a November ballot free of right wing initiatives for the first time in Permanent Defense’s history.
Permanent Defense, Washingtonians For Ethical Government catch Eyman red-handed — again
On September 16th, NPI’s Permanent Defense and Washingtonians For Ethical Government teamed up again to hold Tim Eyman accountable for his continued blatant disregard of Washington’s public disclosure laws. WFEG notified Attorney General Bob Ferguson of its intent to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the State of Washington over Eyman’s failure to report a six figure transfer of cash between two of his committees. Two months later, on November 30th, Ferguson’s office notified WFEG that it had amended one of the lawsuits filed against Eyman in September to incorporate the charges.
Angle Lake Link opens four years ahead of schedule
On September 24th, on a sunny day in SeaTac, Sound Transit opened a sixteenth light rail station to the public, inaugurating service on Angle Lake Link four years early and once again demonstrating to voters its ability to deliver projects ahead of schedule and under budget. Angle Lake is the first station to open south of SeaTac/Airport, and has a large parking garage to enable commuters to park and take Link to points north. NPI livegrammed the event and offered additional special coverage on the Cascadia Advocate.
Voters pass Sound Transit 3 and four progressive statewide initiatives
While the presidential election ended in catastrophe, voters in Washington State charted a course for progressive change on November 8th by passing Sound Transit 3 (Regional Proposition 1) and statewide initiatives to raise the minimum wage (I-1433), allow families to seek extreme risk protection orders to protect loved ones from gun violence (I-1491), put the state on record in support of federal constitutional amendment to get big money out of elections (I-735), and protect the information of in-home caregivers from being harvested by right wing stink tanks for malicious purposes (I-1501).
Within days of the election results having been certified, Sound Transit’s staff and board of directors got to work on project implementation, securing favorable financing and moving forward with contract awards.
Tim Eyman’s I-869 fails to qualify for the ballot
December 30th marked the deadline for submitting signatures for initiatives to the 2017 Legislature. Although Tim Eyman had tried to restart I-1421 by converting it into I-869, his attempts to interest his wealthy benefactors in underwriting the measure failed, and it died without any comment whatsoever from Eyman, who spent six months asking for donations to an initiative he knew wasn’t going anywhere.
Inspired by Permanent Defense’s fifteen year track record of taking on right wing initiatives and winning? Donate to Permanent Defense PAC now to keep Washington safe from threats to its Constitution and common wealth.