Category Archives: Ballot Watchdogging

Tim Eyman concedes he won’t make 2016 ballot; NPI’s Permanent Defense ready to fight I-869

Ballot WatchdoggingStatements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis

Implicitly conceding at last that he doesn’t actually have a paid signature drive in the field and thus won’t have anything on the 2016 ballot, initiative profiteer Tim Eyman announced this morning that he’s devoting his energies to qualifying a new initiative for 2017 that would eviscerate funding for roads and transit at both the state and regional levels.

“Today is the third time in the past seven months that Tim Eyman has ‘launched’ a new initiative,” noted Northwest Progressive Institute and Permanent Defense founder Andrew Villeneuve, who has been organizing opposition to Eyman initiatives for over fourteen years.

“The first time was back in November of 2015 when he said he was doing a follow-up to I-1366 to require revenue increases to expire after a year. Then, in February, he said he was also going to try to qualify to the 2016 ballot I-1421, an initiative to repeal vehicle fees. Now he says he’s doing I-869, a similar initiative to the Legislature for 2017. His announcement today makes no reference to either of those previously planned initiatives.”

“And that’s no accident. Eyman doesn’t like to dwell on failure, and it’s evident at this point he will fail to make the 2016 ballot with anything. It appears the good people of Washington will once again be able to enjoy an Eyman-free election this autumn, while having the opportunity to consider several progressive initiatives that would move our state forward. That’s a victory we will be celebrating all summer long.”

“Time will tell if I-869 is for real or not. Remember, Eyman printed up petitions for I-1421 too — and even made a big show of being the first to sign one in front of television cameras — but I-1421 has now been abandoned. I-869 won’t make it either unless Eyman has commitments from his wealthy benefactors to fund a signature drive. The gears of his initiative factory simply cannot turn without big money.”

In the event I-869 does have serious money behind it, NPI’s Permanent Defense is prepared to fight it and defeat it, together with the Keep Washington Rolling coalition and many other allies.

“Tim Eyman has tried to mess with mobility in our state many times before and been defeated,” Villeneuve observed.

“In 2000, he qualified a scheme to take money away from transit and spend it on highway construction. Voters defeated it. In 2008, he qualified a scheme to eviscerate our HOV system. Voters defeated it. In 2011, he qualified a scheme to prohibit variable tolling and block East Link light rail. Voters defeated it.”

Eyman claims that a survey he paid for shows that I-869 is wildly popular, but the press and public should be aware Eyman says that about all of his initiatives.

Prior to the 2005 general election, Eyman boasted that John Carlson and Kirby Wilbur’s initiative to repeal the fuel tax increases approved by the 2005 Legislature as part of that year’s transportation package was destined for certain victory. Following I-912’s qualification, many pundits shared that view, or were skeptical that I-912 could be beaten.

“With I-912, inevitably approved this fall, voters will say NO to Queen Christine’s underhanded effort to sneak through a multi-billion tax increase when the voters clearly opposed it,” Tim Eyman wrote in a September 26th, 2005 email.

But instead, much to Eyman’s astonishment, I-912 was defeated by voters in a landmark victory, after opponents successfully waged a compelling NO campaign.

NPI is a veteran of that campaign, as are the many organizations that belong to Keep Washington Rolling.

“Voters have repeatedly said no to right wing initiatives that would mess with our transportation system, but Eyman refuses to listen,” said Villeneuve. “The will of the voters clearly doesn’t matter to him. He just keeps recycling the same awful ideas, election cycle after election cycle. We are prepared and committed to ensuring that I-869 ends up in the same graveyard as most of Eyman’s other initiatives, should it end up qualifying to the Legislature at the end of the year. The investments we’ve made to strengthen mobility in Washington must be protected.”

An updated version of Tim Eyman’s Failure Chart, documenting the long list of Eyman initiatives that have either failed to make the ballot, been defeated by voters, or struck down as unconstitutional may be viewed on Permanent Defense’s website.

In 1914, it cost $117.23 to file an initiative in 2013 dollars… so why does it only cost $5 today?

Ballot WatchdoggingRethinking and Reframing

As of yesterday, we are three weeks into 2013, and already, Tim Eyman has filed sixteen initiatives to the people, including two today. That’s an average of more than five per week, and it’s one more than the total number of initiatives to the people filed so far in 2013 (fifteen) by everybody else.

Reporters and longtime observers of state government know that over the years, Eyman has become an increasingly prolific sponsor of initiatives. Most of the measures he files are simply duplicate copies (or near-duplicate copies) of the same set of bad ideas he’s been hawking for more than a decade. We have never seen an Eyman initiative aimed at ending homelessness or cleaning up Puget Sound. We have, however, seen plenty of Eyman initiatives written to deliberately wreck government and sabotage our common wealth so that vital public services are starved of revenue.

Every time Eyman files an initiative, it costs him just five dollars to get a ballot title from the Attorney General’s office and to get feedback from the Code Reviser. But it costs the rest of us much more. The Secretary of State’s office freely admits that five dollars doesn’t come close to covering the cost of processing initiative and referendum filings. Yet the filing fee has never been raised. Staff at the Secretary of State’s office confirmed to NPI today that the filing fee has stayed at $5 ever since the initiative and referendum process was established over a hundred years ago.

In 1912, when the initiative and referendum powers were added to the State Constitution, Washington was a very different place. Far fewer people lived here; many of the cities and towns that are now nestled in our mountain foothills, above our rocky coastlines, or on the rolling plains of the Columbia Plateau did not exist. For example, the City of Redmond, NPI’s hometown, was incorporated December 31st, 1912… several weeks after that year’s election took place.

In those days, five dollars went a lot further than it does now. In fact, in 1914, the first year that initiatives appeared on Washington’s ballot, it cost about $117.23 to file an initiative… in 2013 dollars.

So why does it only cost $5 today? The filing fee hasn’t been updated to keep up with inflation, let alone cover the true costs of filing an initiative or a referendum.

Five dollars, to people in 1914, was what we would consider about $117.23 today, according to WolframAlpha’s U.S. inflation calculator. Here’s the math:

1914 filing fee x (2013 CPI/1914 CPI) = 1914 price in today’s dollars

See the input and the results on WolframAlpha.

The CPI, for those reading who don’t know, stands for Consumer Price Index. It is a key economic indicator calculated by the Department of Labor. It is widely used for many purposes. For example, Washington State’s Department of Labor & Industries looks at the CPI when determining how to adjust Washington’s minimum wage each year. (The minimum wage just went up a few weeks ago, on January 1st).

Eyman and others have argued the filing fee should not be raised because a higher fee would impede citizens who wish to drum up public awareness for their ideas.

But this argument does not hold water. Plenty of people filed initiatives during the years when five dollars was akin to $117, or $100, or $75, or $50 today. And, in fact, anyone wishing to file an initiative today has to compete with Tim Eyman, whose high number of duplicate filings make the list maintained by the Secretary of State’s website more difficult to browse. Eyman’s ballot title shopping is creating unnecessary work for the people who remain in the Secretary of State’s office, the Attorney General’s office, and the Code Reviser’s office. Eyman is wasting state resources by filing the same initiative texts over and over and over… and he doesn’t care.

It is time that we raised the initiative filing fee so it at least is brought current with inflation. We have calculated that it cost about $117.23 to file an initiative in 1914. Why shouldn’t it cost about the same now?

To accommodate Washingtonians who are on a limited income and wish to be able to put forth an idea for consideration as an initiative, lawmakers could permit the Secretary of State to waive the filing fee for individuals who find, say, five hundred other like-minded citizens of the State of Washington to cosponsor their initiative.

This would encourage the formation of efforts that are truly grassroots. No initiative campaign that cannot afford (or chooses not to make use of) paid signature gatherers can get a measure on the ballot without doing true grassroots organizing. A person wishing to file an initiative should either be able to help the State of Washington cover the true costs of processing their filing, or demonstrate that there is enough interest in their idea to justify the waiving of the filing fee. Such an approach would mirror the way that filing fees for public office work today.

NO on 1185: Permanent Defense calls on Washingtonians to stop greed, reject latest oil-soaked Eyman initiative this November

Ballot WatchdoggingEye on Money: DevelopmentsRethinking and ReframingStatements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis

Earlier today in Olympia, Tim Eyman made his annual appearance at the Secretary of State’s Elections Division (as usual, accompanied by Jack and Mike Fagan) to turn in signatures for his latest initiative, made possible by more than a million dollars in contributions from some of the world’s most powerful corporations. The list includes BP, Shell, ConocoPhillips, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Dr Pepper Snapple Group (through the American Beverage Association), Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors, Crown Imports, and Heineken USA (through the Beer Institute).

Initiative 1185 is a clone of Initiative 1053, sponsored by Eyman two years ago and backed by many of the aforementioned corporations. It would sabotage our plan of government by allowing one-third of either house of the Legislature to decide the fate of any bill seeking to raise revenue for Washington’s common wealth. I-1053 was itself a clone of I-960 (from 2007), which was based on I-601 (from 1993).

“Initiative 1185, like its predecessors, is a serious threat to the health of our democracy,” said NPI founder Andrew Villeneuve. “Our republic is built on the idea of majority rule with minority rights. Our Constitution explicitly sets the standard for passage of legislation as a majority vote – an interpretation recently affirmed by King County Superior Court Judge Bruce Heller, who concluded that I-1053, I-1185’s predecessor, is unconstitutional on multiple grounds.”

“I-1185 is an illegitimate attempt to amend Article II, Section 22 of our state’s Constitution, which says that a majority vote is the threshold for determining the fate of a bill. I-1185 tries to undemocratically require a higher standard of two-thirds for some bills – specifically, any bills that would raise revenue to fund vital public services like our schools and universities,” Villeneuve added.

“I-1185 is purposely intended to create gridlock in our statehouse, so that a small group of reactionary legislators can wield veto power over important decisions about our state’s budget. That’s wrong.”

“We urge Washingtonians to join us this fall in taking a stand against unchecked corporate greed by voting NO on Initiative 1185.”

“The only reason this measure is going to be on our ballot is because nine corporations and corporate fronts collectively shelled out more than a million dollars to hire mercenary petitioners to collect signatures. They’re betting that they can trick the people of Washington into approving this scheme to shield their tax breaks and tax loopholes from possible repeal. They’ve made it clear they are unwilling to pay their fair share in membership dues to our state, while at the same time disingenuously calling on our state’s leaders to strengthen investment in our schools, universities, roads, and bridges.”

“Here’s what the people of Washington need to know: We can only afford to keep our pubic services strong if we all pitch in, pay our fair share, and work to make our tax system fairer and more equitable. Unfortunately, that’s the last thing these corporations want. We’ve seen their true colors – they’re cheaters who want to rig the system for their own advantage. And they must be stopped.”

Throughout the rest of the summer and into the autumn, NPI’s Permanent Defense will be working with other concerned Washingtonians to build a strong coalition to oppose I-1185 and educate voters as to its true cost and consequences.

An updated list of the top ten contributors to Initiative 1185 is available at Permanent Defense’s Eye on Money page.

The chart shows that the top nine contributors are responsible for a whopping 93% of the total (estimated to be $1,131,704). All of the other contributors – combined – are responsible for only 7%. These figures make it plainly clear that this initiative was bought and paid for by powerful interests, including some of the world’s biggest and most profitable companies.

Who are the top nine?

  • Beer Institute: $400,000
  • BP: $100,000
  • ConocoPhillips: $100,000
  • Tesoro: $100,000
  • Equilon/Shell: $100,000
  • American Beverage Association: $100,000
  • WA Beer & Wine Distributors: $100,000
  • WA Realtors: $25,000
  • WA Restaurant Association: $25,000
  • Everyone Else (multiple entities): $81,703.95

FOR MORE: See State Representative Reuven Carlyle’s blog post about I-1185, The painful irony of using majority rule to eliminate majority rule.

Eyman invites supporters to join him in crashing Dino Rossi and Dave Reichert’s Election Night party

Ballot WatchdoggingElection Postmortem

Unwilling to organize an Election Night party of his  own – either because almost nobody would come, or because he’s just too lazy to go to all the trouble of putting together an event – Tim Eyman has invited his supporters to join him in crashing Dino Rossi and Dave Reichert’s Election Night party at the Bellevue Hilton.

In an email, Eyman says:

Join us at the taxpayers’ victory celebration at the Bellevue Hilton (300 112th Ave SE) on election night (several other campaigns are going to be there too, making it much easier for all our supporters — having one big party is better than having lots of little ones). We’ll get there around 7:45 pm, polls close at 8:00 pm and our victory speech will be given at 8:05 pm.

In typical Eyman fashion, Tim makes it sound like he was responsible for creating a grand taxpayers’ victory celebration that other campaigns are participating in. The reality is, he’s crashing the biggest Republican Election Night party in King County, just as he has for the past several years.

What we want to know is, why didn’t he take advantage of  his friends at BP, Shell, Tesoro, ConocoPhillips, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and get them to pony up some moolah for a nice big party? What’s the use of having wealthy corporations as allies if they can’t at least underwrite a rockin’ party?

BP again donates to 1053; JPMorgan Chase joins pantheon of greedy corporations trying to sabotage democracy

Ballot WatchdoggingEye on Money: Developments

As elections officials across Washington State prepare to put several million ballots in the mail to Washingtonians, skittish corporate operatives working for the Association of Washington Business are busily soliciting and accepting funds to prop up Tim Eyman’s scheme to sabotage our democracy, which they apparently fear isn’t going to sell itself despite Tim’s gift for media manipulation.

Days after the AWB itself loaned $60,000 to “Citizens for Responsible Spending” (which is not run by or for any “citizens”), a new onslaught of checks suddenly began arriving from wealthy corporations.

Since the beginning of the month, Tesoro and ConocoPhillips have each put up another $25,000, while BP contributed $35,000, bringing its aggregate total to $100,000 and making it the single largest corporate donor to Tim Eyman’s assault on our cherished tradition of majority rule.

Banking giant JPMorgan Chase, which acquired WaMu from the FDIC in a hastily-arranged fire sale only two years ago, sent in $30,000 at about the same time. Chase is the fourth Wall Street bank to contribute to I-1053 (the others are Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and USBank).

“It’s ironic that so many Wall Street banks, which nearly collapsed under the weight of all the bad bets they made, are trying to wreck our state government so it can’t work for us after being bailed out by the federal government,” said NPI Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve. “Their shamelessness knows no bounds. Let’s be clear: This is about wanton, unchecked greed. It’s as simple as that. ”

An updated analysis by NPI has found that a whopping ninety one percent of the money behind I-1053 came from a corporation. Only nine percent came from individuals, and some of the individual donors are affiliated with corporations that donated.

The analysis found that:

  • $315,000 came from big oil companies,
  • $305,589.89 came from corporate trade groups and lobbies like the Farm Bureau, Realtors, Bankers Association, and the Association of Washington Business,
  • $93,000 came from timber and pulp companies,
  • $57,500 came from Wall Street banks,
  • $65,000 came from real estate developers like Kemper Freeman Jr./Martin Selig,
  • $114,968.00 came from other companies large and small, including Alaska Airlines, Philip Morris USA, Schnitzer Steel, Liberty Mutual Group, and Simplot.
  • Only $91,123.40 came from individuals.

A breakdown is available at

“Were it not for the likes of BP, Bank of America, Tesoro, JPMorgan Chase, ConocoPhillips, and Simpson/Green Diamond Resource Co., we would not be voting on Initiative 1053. This is not a citizen’s initiative. It’s a cold, caclulated attempt to trick we the people of Washington into giving up our sovereignty,” Villeneuve said. “The corporate lobbyists behind 1053 want to tighten their grip on our Capitol. Under this measure, all they have to do is persuade seventeen of Washington’s forty nine senators to side with them and they can defeat any bill that would end their special tax breaks. That’s not democratic, fair, or constitutional.”

Learn more about why Initiative 1053 is a bad idea.

PDC reports for June 2010 show that Tim Eyman is rolling in corporate cash

Ballot WatchdoggingEye on Money: DevelopmentsThreat Analysis

This morning, Tim Eyman sent out another email to his supporters thanking them for their efforts getting Initiative 1053 on the ballot.

Eyman wrote: “When Olympia sidesteps a law like I-960 (which voters approved in 2007), they count on the citizens to not have the energy or enthusiasm to roll that boulder back up the mountain again.  They count on us to give up — to throw up our hands and say ‘you can’t beat city hall.'”

Reporters with sharp eyes might have noticed there was a typo in that paragraph: the word “citizens” should be “corporations”.

After all, corporations like BP (big profits… bad people… yes, that BP) are the only reason Initiative 1053 is on the ballot.

New PDC reports filed by Tim Eyman’s campaign committee for June 2010 reveal that a massive influx of corporate cash helped the Mukilteo profiteer buy the signatures he needed to get on the ballot during the final few weeks of initiative season.

Yesterday evening, the NPI Advocate broke the news that BP – the polluting oil giant responsible for the biggest environmental disaster in American history – is one of the top donors to I-1053. BP shelled out a combined $65,000 to two I-1053 political action committees in June… Voters Want More Choices and “Citizens for Responsible Spending”.

Other corporations that ponied up for I-1053 include Bank of America, USBank, Alaska Airlines, Sierra Pacific Industries, Green Diamond Resource Co., Tesoro, Equilon, Liberty Mutual, Plum Creek, Darigold, and ConocoPhillips. Several trade groups, including the Washington Oil Marketers Association, Washington Farm Bureau, Washington Restaurant Association, and Washington Bankers Association, are also principal donors to the campaign.

“It’s clear from these June reports that corporate lobbyists have taken over for Michael Dunmire as Tim Eyman’s sugar daddy,” said NPI Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve in a news release sent out to the traditional media.

“For years, Eyman has blasted ‘big business’ as an enemy of the people and an obstacle to his initiatives. Now, he’s rolling in their cash. How ironic.”

“And yet, it is fitting that Tim Eyman and many of America’s biggest and most irresponsible corporations are now joined at the hip,” Villeneuve observed. “They’re both united by a shared vice: Greed. At a time when we need to be pulling together and strengthening our common wealth to ensure our economy recovers, they are trying to put themselves ahead of everybody else.”

Oil companies already receive huge federal subsidies and banks have benefited from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, otherwise known as the bank bailout.

“The corporations that are backing Tim Eyman continue to take advantage of our federal common wealth whilst writing big checks to an initiative that would prevent our Legislature from acting to protect public services here in this Washington,” Villeneuve said. “They have a shameless double standard. They’ll take as much as they can for themselves, but they don’t want to pay their dues.”

NPI and Permanent Defense recently launched a new website to expose the corporations that are trying to make a quick buck by conning the people of Washington into voting for ill-conceived initiatives that would weaken or privatize public services.

This website,, includes a Rogues’ Gallery profiling the corporations that have sunk the most money into five initiatives that will appear on this November’s ballot. The Gallery will be updated accordingly to reflect the latest PDC reports this week and in the weeks to come.

Several right wing initiative campaigns plan to submit signatures this week

Ballot Watchdogging

The corporate lobbies behind several right wing initiatives have made appointments to turn in signatures collected by their mercenary petitioners, the Secretary of State’s office announced this morning.

The BIAW will go first. They’re expected to drop off boxes of petitions on Wednesday morning for their scheme to destroy publicly administered industrial insurance, which protects workers while they’re on the job. Metaphorically, the initiative is akin to a missile designed to blow up the Department of Labor and Industries, tasked by law with ensuring that businesses be ready to help their workers who get injured on the job.

The beverage industry will follow forty eight hours later, submitting signatures on Friday for a measure  that would repeal several of the revenue increases passed by the state Legislature back in the spring.

They’ll be joined that day by operatives working for two retailers (Odom Holdings and Young’s Markets) who will be submitting signatures for an initiative to close down the state’s liquor stores and deregulate the selling of hard spirits. Costco Wholesale, which is running its own similar initiative, has already submitted its signatures.

Finally, our old nemesis Tim Eyman is due in on Friday to turn in petitions for Initiative 1053, his redo of Initiative 960 from 2007. It would unconstitutionally reimpose a legislative veto over budget and fiscal decisions, allowing just one third of lawmakers in one house of the Legislature to block any fee or revenue increase from passing.

This looks to be the toughest and most difficult autumn in memory, with just one shy of a half-dozen ill-conceived measures to defeat. We’ve certainly got our work cut out for us. In the days, weeks, and months ahead, Permanent Defense will be working to build a united front against all of these right wing initiatives.

Citizens of Mukilteo have already rejected Eyman attempt to take away red-light camera money

Ballot WatchdoggingRethinking and Reframing

At the beginning of this week, Mukilteo’s most infamous right wing politician announced that he and two of his friends were launching a citywide initiative to ban red-light cameras. But Eyman – who has assailed red-light cameras as the “crack cocaine” of city leaders – failed to mention that the people of his hometown have already weighed in on the issue, less than two years ago, when Initiative 985 was on the ballot.

Initiative 985 contained a provision that would have redirected revenue from city red-light cameras to a statewide road-building fund. However, as Eyman himself made clear during the campaign, the real intent of the provision was to discourage cities from installing red-light cameras at all.

Data compiled by Permanent Defense from the Snohomish County general election canvass shows that the people of Mukilteo do not agree that red-light cameras are a civic menace. They overwhelmingly rejected I-985 in November 2008, 57% to 42%. Nineteen of the city’s twenty precincts (including the precinct Eyman lives in!) were firmly opposed to the measure, while only one was in favor. The total vote for I-985 was 4,417; the total vote against I-985 was 5,974.

To qualify his citywide initiative to the August 17th primary election ballot, Eyman needs to obtain valid signatures from at least 1,804 residents of Mukilteo.

Since all he needs to do is find about half of the people in Mukilteo who voted for I-985, we can expect that he’ll be able to qualify his measure for the ballot. But if history is any indication, Eyman may simply be setting himself up for another defeat at the hands of his neighbors.

Eyman loans I-1053 campaign committee $50,000, doesn’t tell supporters

Ballot WatchdoggingEye on Money: DevelopmentsThreat Analysis

As required by law, Tim Eyman’s treasurer is in the midst of uploading the April 2010 campaign finance reports for the latest incarnation of the Mukilteo profiteer’s campaign committee (Voters Want More Choices Save the Two Thirds for Tax Increases). Surprisingly, the reports show that Eyman’s wealthy benefactor Michael Dunmire — a cosponsor of Initiative 1053 — has still not written any checks to Eyman’s current initiative campaign (although that doesn’t mean he still won’t).

Consequently, Eyman’s fundraising has been so anemic that Eyman has once again been compelled to loan his initiative factory money. According to the April Schedule L, Eyman loaned Voters Want More Choices $30,000 on April 24th, 2010. Two days later (April 26th), he wrote a check to Citizen Solutions (who employ mercenary petitioners on Eyman’s behalf) for the exact same amount. Five days later, on April 29th, Eyman loaned Voters Want More Choices an additional $20,000. He wrote Citizen Solutions another check for $25,000 the following day (April 30th)..

Considering that Eyman still has loans outstanding from I-1033, it seems unlikely he could continue to self-fund his own signature drive.

Perhaps he’s decided to buy himself as many signatures as he can whilst hoping that Dunmire eventually comes through for him.

But if that’s his game plan, he hasn’t bothered to clue in his supporters.

Eyman files symbolic initiatives to repeal new revenue in 2010 budget

Ballot WatchdoggingThreat Analysis

That didn’t take long.

The ink is still not dry on the 2010 supplemental budget – which has yet to be signed into law by Governor Gregoire – but already initiative profiteer Tim Eyman has filed a series of initiatives to wipe out the new revenue it contains.

Some news reports are lending the impression that Eyman intends to seriously qualify these initiatives, or a later initiative based on the eight he filed today. In reality, there is no evidence that these initiatives are anything other than symbolic. Eyman himself has admitted to his supporters that the signature drive for Initiative 1053, his preexisting scheme, is not moving at a pace that would ensure success. The real reason Eyman filed these initiatives is that he wants his face on the evening news and his name in the newspaper. It’s all about publicity.

Industry lobbyists have made noises about wanting to repeal some of the consumption taxes in the 2010 supplemental budget, but if they want to force public votes on parts of the budget, they don’t need Eyman’s help to do that.

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