September 10th, 2018
Eyman contempt sanctions doubled, but even tougher penalties may be needed
Since February 16th, 2018, Tim Eyman and petitioning company Citizen Solutions been in contempt of court for failing to turn over records sought by Attorney General Bob Ferguson in one of the four campaign finance enforcement cases his office has brought against the prolific initiative pitchman and his associates.
With no end in sight to their stonewalling, Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon on Friday doubled the daily contempt sanctions against each defendant from $250/day to $500/day and granted the state direct access to Eyman’s banking records.
Northwest Progressive Institute Founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve, who has been organizing opposition to Eyman initiatives for over sixteen years, called the latest developments critical to overcoming Eyman’s legal defense strategy of delay, obfuscate, and obstruct, but noted even tougher sanctions may be necessary.
“It’s no surprise that Tim Eyman doesn’t want to be held accountable for his lawbreaking, but he cannot be allowed to continue to stonewall in the extreme as he has been,” said Villeneuve. “After almost seven months, he and his associates have racked up a total of $101,500 in contempt penalties, plus they’re on the hook for $35,722.30 in state attorney’s fees and court costs. That may sound like a lot of money, but evidently to them, it’s just a necessary cost associated with obscuring the truth for as long as possible.”
Fortunately, Villeneuve said, Judge Dixon didn’t just double the contempt penalties on Friday, but allowed the state to have direct access to Eyman’s bank records.
“We’re pleased that Judge Dixon took action beyond just increasing the amount of the daily contempt sanctions, but we wish he’d taken this step months ago.”
“We believe higher penalties are warranted. Given that Eyman and Citizen Solutions were willing to pay $250/day in fines for over half a year rather that purge their contempt, it stands to reason they’re ready to pay $500/day. They appear to have plenty of money for their legal defense, and there’s probably more where that came from. To compel their compliance with the Court’s orders, we’d like to see the sanctions raised to a higher, more appropriate amount, like $2,000/day.”
The state is seeking more than just banking records, so tougher penalties could help compel Eyman’s cooperation.
“It is time for the stonewalling to end,” Villeneuve said. “Enough games, enough silly excuses for failing to produce records, enough obstruction. Washingtonians deserve the truth. Justice isn’t served by a never-ending investigation.”
Although a trial in the case had originally been planned for late November, Judge Dixon recently granted a request from Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office to extend its discovery cutoff deadline and revise the case schedule order.
The state’s discovery cutoff is now December 14th, 2018.
On August 24th, Dixon also ordered that the defendants’ motions for summary judgment be stricken until discovery has concluded, and dismissed most of Eyman’s counterclaims, which eliminates the possibility of Eyman and his associates winning damages or attorney’s fees.
The aforementioned case is No. 17-2-01546-34, and is one of four filed against Tim Eyman by the State of Washington in 2016 and 2017.