Category Archives: From the Campaign Trail

NPI’s Permanent Defense responds to the discovery of thousands of fraudulent I-517 and I-522 signatures

Eye on Money: DevelopmentsFrom the Campaign TrailStatements & Advisories

This afternoon, the Secretary of State Kim Wyman announced that, after reviewing petitions submitted for Tim Eyman’s I-517 and Chris McManus’ I-522, her office had asked the Washington State Patrol to open a criminal investigation into what she called “the worst apparent initiative fraud anyone can remember.” As many as eight thousand signatures for I-517 and I-522 may be fraudulent.

Since mid-spring of 2012, when we first learned that Tim Eyman and his friends Roy Ruffino and Eddie Agazarm were making an attempt to quietly and illegitimately collect signatures for a second initiative by piggybacking on the signature drive for I-1185, we have been watchdogging and monitoring the I-517 campaign as closely as possible… a difficult task, given that Tim Eyman and his pals ran the entire operation in stealth mode up until the very end.

Prior to today’s announcement, we had already documented a troubling set of discrepancies with the I-517 campaign, many of which were included in the complaint against the I-517 campaign filed with the Public Disclosure Commission by Sherry Bockwinkel last August. Sadly, the PDC has so far failed to launch a full-scale investigation in response to the complaint. We urge the PDC to bring the complaint out of limbo and open a formal inquiry immediately.

We thank Secretary of State Kim Wyman and her team for referring this matter to the State Patrol for a full investigation. We understand that the State Patrol is already investigating fraudulent signatures that were submitted as part of last year’s charter schools initiative, and we will be following that investigation as well.

However, we need more than an investigation into these fraudulent signatures. The signature gathering industry in our state has been operating for years out of the public eye with next to no oversight. Our research has found that our state’s signature gathering firms, like Eddie Agazarm and Roy Ruffino’s Citizen Solutions, have been exploiting their petition workers for years and failing to comply with our worker protection laws. It is time for lawmakers and the Department of Labor & Industries to fully investigate this industry and ensure that firms like Citizen Solutions are brought into full compliance with our laws. Instances of fraud are less likely to occur if regulators do their job.

We applaud the Secretary of State’s Elections Division for planning to meet with elections officials in Oregon to discuss how to toughen our state’s laws and regulations. We believe we should learn from Oregon’s experience so we can prevent the same kind of problems from getting completely out of hand here.

Tim Eyman would like us all to think that signature fraud is a problem that doesn’t exist. But as this and past incidents demonstrate, he is dead wrong. He’s against oversight anbd regulation of the signature gathering industry because it could negatively affect his profits.

Everett Herald takes courageous, thoughtful position against Tim Eyman’s I-1185

EndorsementsFrom the Campaign Trail

Recognizing that Tim Eyman’s latest oil and beer soaked initiative would prevent our Legislature from democratically functioning as our founders intended it to, the Everett Herald today emphatically recommended a NO vote on I-1185, joining NPI’s Permanent Defense and hundreds of other organizations in opposing the measure.

The paper’s stance is a reversal from just two years ago, when The Herald backed I-1185’s predecessor, I-1053. Of its change of heart, the paper’s editors wrote:

We were wrong. Rather than pressure reforms, Eyman’s supermajority rule has spurred paralysis. Rather than bolster creative solutions to benefit the average taxpayer, the two-thirds’ mandate is now one of the apron strings special interests hide behind to avoid ponying up.

The latest incarnation of Eyman’s supermajority effort, I-1185, is bankrolled by the likes of BP (the company that brought us the Deepwater Horizon oil spill) and ConocoPhillips. Each has contributed $100,000, with an additional $400,000 from the Beer Institute. Why so much loot from Big Oil and non-Washington booze interests? With 1185, it takes a simple majority vote in the Legislature to create a tax loophole, but a two-thirds’ supermajority to undo it. Not a bad scheme if you’re a deep-pocketed special interest. It’s a much higher hurdle, however, for Washington families that support tax fairness.

We commend The Herald for this editorial. It’s courageous, it’s thoughtful, and it’s honest. The Herald is correct in asserting that the two-thirds scheme leads to gridlock. It allows seventeen state senators and thirty-three state representatives to block bills that would raise revenue in their respective houses. That’s undemocratic and unconstitutional. Article II, Section 22 of our state Constitution plainly states that bills shall pass by majority vote. Majority vote means fifty out of ninety-eight in the House, and twenty-five out of forty-nine in the Senate. No more, no less.

Proponents of I-1185 don’t have a problem with allowing majority votes to decide the fate of legislation that creates new tax breaks, or in legislative parlance, tax preferences, as The Herald notes. But they argue that recovering revenue for our state treasury by repealing a loophole amounts to a tax increase, and should require a two-thirds vote. That’s a double standard. If it takes a two-thirds vote to get rid of a tax break, it should take a two-thirds vote to create one.

Like its predecessors I-960 and I-1053, I-1185 is unconstitutional, undemocratic, unfair, and unsound. Vote NO on I-1185.

Two-thirds is *not* a majority: New pictogram explains what I-1185, lawsuit against I-1053 are really about

From the Campaign TrailIn the CourtsRethinking and Reframing

Today, NPI’s Permanent Defense is releasing a new pictogram that explains what Initiative 1185 and the lawsuit against I-1053 are really about.

Inspired by NPI’s late board member Lynn Allen, the artist and storyteller who created a similar visual for NPI’s 2010 video explaining the cost and consequences of I-1053, the pictogram shows how the two-thirds scheme embraced by Tim Eyman and big oil companies like BP and Royal Dutch Shell is preventing our Legislature from functioning as our founders intended it to.

What I-1185 and the lawsuit against I-1053 are really about
Click on thumbnail to see larger image

On the left side of the pictogram is an illustration of what happens when Article II, Section 22 of our state Constitution is in force. Fifty votes (out of ninety-eight total) are sufficient to pass a revenue bill in the House, and twenty-five votes (out of forty-nine total) are sufficient to pass a revenue bill in the Senate.

On the right side of the pictogram is an illustration of what the two-thirds scheme does when it it allowed to illegitimately take precedence over Article II, Section 22. Power is unconstitutionally and undemocratically transferred to a minority – specifically, thirty-three representatives in the House and seventeen senators in the Senate – who gain veto power over the majority.

The words “control outcome” are used in the pictogram to explain who really has power in each situation. When the Legislature operates in accordance with the rules from our Constitution, the majority prevails, because a majority vote is sufficient to pass a bill – even a bill that raises revenue. But when Tim Eyman and Big Oil’s rules are substituted for the Constitution’s rules, control of the outcome passes into the hands of just a few lawmakers, who can override their colleagues.

“This pictogram gives meaning to the adage,  ‘A picture is worth a thousand words'”, said NPI founder Andrew Villeneuve. “It is hard to quickly explain to voters the destructive impact that I-960 and I-1053 have had on our state. But this pictogram tells the story, through simple stick figures and easy-to-read fractions.”

“What the pictogram tells us is that above all, this two-thirds scam has sabotaged our plan of government and prevented our Legislature from operating democratically as it always should. It has changed the decision-making process.”

“That has been the most important consequence. The damage isn’t necessarily visible, but it’s there all of the same… beneath the surface.”

“Tim Eyman has a simple slogan he has been using for years, for I-960, for I-1053, and now I-1185: ‘We can’t trust Olympia, so let’s make it tougher for politicians to raise taxes.’ As far as sound bites go, it’s short, but it’s definitely not sweet. The word sour would be a more fitting descriptor. It’s a manipulative sales pitch that reeks of cynicism and improvidence. It should be obvious by now that Eyman thrives on distrust in government; he has an interest in sowing fear, uncertainty, and doubt in people’s minds. It’s good for business.”

“Eyman wants people to think that state government is the problem, so they’ll overlook the fact that his initiative factory is funded by powerful corporations like BP, ConocoPhillips, and Royal Dutch Shell.”

“These corporations want to trample all over our state Constitution so their lobbyists can wield even more power in our state’s capital than they already do.”

“From looking at the pictogram, we can see that requiring a two-thirds vote to raise revenue is not democratic. The phrase ‘two-thirds majority’ is a misnomer because two-thirds is not a majority. It’s a supermajority. And here’s the thing: A supermajority is actually the inverse of a submajority, which even Rob McKenna’s office agrees is not a majority. Requiring a two-thirds vote to raise revenue, in practice, means that just over one-third of the lawmakers of each house control the outcome. They can say no to everybody else.”

It is worth noting that our Constitution itself cannot be altered by majority vote. But that is because it is our highest law. It is the sacred document that protects minority rights. As recent research by Perkins Coie’s David Perez shows, our founders debated where and when to require supermajorities; they knew that in any instance where a higher threshold was put in place, the minority would control the outcome.

The rules they gave us say a constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds vote, but bills require just a majority vote. That way, we have majority rule with minority rights. And by majority vote, our founders meant greater than fifty percent.

No more, no less.

What I-1185 and the lawsuit against I-1053 are really about is this: Will we uphold Washington’s Constitution or not? If we care about the rule of law and the plan of government our founders gave us, we ought to reject I-1185 at the ballot, and our Supreme Court ought to uphold Judge Bruce Heller’s ruling striking down I-1053.

Danny Westneat assails Tim Eyman’s secret war on light rail

From the Campaign TrailRethinking and Reframing

Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat has a blistering must-read column in today’s edition of the Seattle Times, taking Tim Eyman and Kemper Freeman Jr. to task for quietly trying to stop Sound Transit’s East Link project through a sneaky provision buried in I-1125, which is intended to kill East Link, but doesn’t actually mention the project or even include the words “light rail”.

When Tim Eyman went before the Bellevue City Council recently, he handed out a sheet describing what his latest idea, Initiative 1125, would do.

It’s what was missing from the sheet that got the most attention.

“I’ve never seen an initiative quite like this, where its intentions are masked from the people who will vote on it,” says Grant Degginger, a Bellevue City Council member and former mayor.

“If you’re trying to kill light rail, just come out and say so.”

It’s not just that the words “light rail” weren’t in Eyman’s handout that day. They also are not in the Voter’s Guide statement for the I-1125 campaign. Nor in any of Eyman’s campaign news releases. Nor in recent op-eds written by Eyman and the initiative’s financier, Bellevue developer Kemper Freeman.

The words “light rail” aren’t in I-1125 or in Eyman’s campaign materials because Eyman and Freeman apparently don’t want to be seen as trying to overturn the will of the voters. (The phrase will of the voters is one of Eyman’s favorites). Both Eyman and Freeman opposed Sound Transit 2 when it was on the ballot three years ago, but they lost. In fact, they didn’t just lose, they lost big.

As Westneat notes:

[P]utting light rail across the Interstate 90 bridge is already voter-approved, by a 57 percent vote in the 2008 election. Brochures from that campaign show a rendering of the bridge with light rail running on it, along with before-and-after drawings of how the traffic lanes would be altered. So it’s hard to argue people didn’t know what they were voting for. Then, anyway.

Of course, in Tim Eyman’s mind, a vote of the people only counts when it goes his way. Eyman views his own losses as temporary setbacks, but he demands that his opponents recognize his victories as permanent. It’s quite the double standard.

Please join us in voting NO on I-1125 this autumn. Keep Sound Transit’s East Link project on track, keep our roads safe, and keep Washington rolling.

The Columbian: I-1125 “threatens greater harm” to our transportation system “than any proposal we’ve seen in years”

EndorsementsFrom the Campaign Trail

The Columbian has joined the list of newspaper editorial boards opposed to Tim Eyman’s anti-tolling, anti-light rail I-1125. In an editorial published today, the Vancouver-based paper denounced I-1125 as “inedible soufflé was cooked up by professional initiative chef Tim Eyman and leavened with expensive dough: a $1 million donation from Bellevue developer Kemper Freeman Jr.”. The editorial went on to criticize several of I-1125’s thoughtless provisions.

The worst of I-1125’s many flaws would be its mandate for Washington to do something that not one of the 50 state does: politicize the setting of tolls. All states correctly place that function in the hands of experts in transportation, finance, planning and management. In Washington state, we have an independent, bipartisan commission that sets tolls. Eyman and Freeman, however, want that job turned over to the Legislature, to be ground up in the partisan turbines of politics.

Washington State actually has a long tradition of having an expert commission set toll rates. We agree – it makes no sense to change that approach. It has always worked for us and it can continue to work, so long as we reject I-1125.

Vote NO on I-1125 this autumn and keep our roads safe.

The News Tribune: I-1125 is “a monkey wrench aimed squarely at the state’s efforts to keep cars moving”

EndorsementsFrom the Campaign Trail

The campaign against Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1125 continues to gain momentum. Across the state, editorial boards are universally coming out against I-1125, because it jeopardizes transportation projects that Washington needs to replace and repair unsafe roads and bridges. The latest paper to oppose I-1125 is the News Tribune of Tacoma, which called I-1125 “a monkey wrench aimed squarely at the state’s efforts to keep cars moving on overcrowded roads.”

As the News Tribune observes, there are lot of “dumb things” in I-1125.

It would forbid variable tolling, a strategy designed to relieve rush hours by encouraging people to make unnecessary trips before or after. This would also threaten plans to finance the replacement SR 520 bridge and the Alaskan Way tunnel in Seattle, among other projects.

The initiative also contains a payoff to Kemper Freeman Jr., a Bellevue real estate magnate who opposes light rail. An innocent-sounding provision in the initiative would have the effect of sabotaging a planned extension of Sound Transit’s light rail system across Lake Washington to Bellevue on the Interstate 90 bridge.

Why should a state initiative tell Puget Sounders they can’t have the light rail system they voted for? Here’s a guess: It might have something to do with the more than $1 million Freeman paid to bankroll I-1125.

Section 2 of I-1125 is proof that Tim Eyman only cares about the will of the voters when voters agree with him. Each time he has tried to play transportation planner (like with I-745 in 2000, or I-985 in 2008), voters have said no. But Eyman isn’t listening.

It’s time once again to say no to another counterproductive, thoughtless Tim Eyman measure. Vote NO on Initiative 1125 and keep Washington rolling.

Everett Herald: I-1125 is a “formula for more gridlock”

EndorsementsFrom the Campaign Trail

The Everett Herald yesterday became the latest newspaper to declare its opposition to Tim Eyman’s ill-conceived I-1125, highlighting some of the initiative’s destructive consequences in a fairly-well written editorial. A couple key snippets:

Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1125 isn’t just one bad idea, it’s a bunch of them.

Their cumulative effect would severely damage the state’s ability to build and maintain the roads and bridges necessary to support a vibrant economy and good-paying jobs. We strongly encourage voters to reject it this fall.

The Herald goes on to say:

It is soundly opposed by the state’s major business groups and employers, including Boeing and Microsoft, for good reason. They know that with per-capita gasoline consumption dropping, and gas-tax revenue along with it, alternatives are needed to pay for our road infrastructure and keep commerce moving. Viable tolling options must be one of them, especially for major projects. I-1125 would wipe out the truly effective ones, leading to more traffic delays throughout the region.

Defeating I-1125 is key to keeping vital projects like the new Evergreen Point Floating Bridge or Sound Transit’s East Link light rail on track. That’s why Keep Washington Rolling – an extremely broad coalition of businesses and organizations with very different views on major issues – has come together to fight I-1125. Join us in ensuring that our roads are safe… vote NO on Initiative 1125.

Seattle Times calls I-1125 “a mess too large”

EndorsementsFrom the Campaign Trail

The Seattle Times, which has enthusiastically supported two of Tim Eyman’s last four initiatives (and firmly opposed the other two), has made public its stance on Initiative 1125. In an eight paragraph editorial, the paper, owned and controlled by the Blethen family, urged voters to save road projects and vote no.

By restricting the state’s management of its highways, including tolls, Initiative 1125 would make it more difficult to build needed roads and bridges.

The whole state has an interest in this. Tolls are a way to help pay for expensive parts without dipping too heavily into the common pot. Without tolls, the biggest projects either would not get built, or would guzzle all the other road money. That is how a toll on the Highway 520 bridge-replacement project in Seattle protects money in Yakima and in Spokane.

The editorial ends by listing some of the projects that would be jeopardized by I-1125: the new Evergreen Point Floating Bridge, the Columbia River Crossing, and Sound Transit’s East Link light rail system. All of them would be “messed up”, the editorial says, proclaiming I-1125 to be “a mess too large”.

It looks like most, if not all, of Tim Eyman’s fair-weather friends have abandoned him this year. Only his closest followers and sympathizers have come out in favor of I-1125, while the opposition has become more and more widespread.

Bellevue Chamber of Commerce: NO on 1125

EndorsementsFrom the Campaign Trail

Following in the footsteps of many local chambers of commerce around Washington State, the Bellevue Chamber has taken a strong NO position on I-1125. The endorsement is significant because Bellevue is the home of Tim Eyman’s No. 2 all-time wealthy benefactor, Kemper Freeman, Jr. Freeman owns Bellevue Square, Bellevue Place, and Lincoln Square (which his company dubs “The Bellevue Collection”).

Freeman has not hesitated to part ways with business groups that do not rigidly adhere to the ideology he believes in. He previously left the Bellevue Downtown Association due to “differences of opinion” that “could not be resolved.”

“We appreciate the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce’s opposition to Initiative 1125,” said Steve Mullin, president of the Washington Roundtable. “The Chamber understands that our state’s recovery and future vitality are  dependent on trade, agriculture and innovation – and that requires a transportation network that moves goods and workers efficiently.  I-1125 is the wrong prescription for Washington State’s economy.”

The Bellevue Chamber also took a position supporting Costco’s I-1183, a right wing proposal to privatize liquor, which NPI strongly opposes.

Wenatchee World urges NO vote on I-1125

EndorsementsFrom the Campaign Trail

One of the more widely read newspapers in Eastern Washington has declared its opposition to the latest scheme to come out of Tim Eyman’s mill. The Wenatchee World, published from the heart of central Washington, urged voters this weekend to say NO to Initiative 1125. Here’s a key excerpt from their editorial:

I-1125 will make it more difficult to set and raise highway tolls. It will restrict who sets tolls, how toll revenues are spent, where they can be collected and for how long. That might bring temporary satisfaction to some, but it will shut down an important means to finance big highway projects. It will strain the already-limited resources for transportation funding, put upward pressure on the gas tax once again, and make it certain that more taxes from here will go to pay for the big projects over there. Projects delayed will increase costs and congestion and add to business and building expense everywhere. Initiative 1125 is an exceptionally bad trade.

This is a solid analysis. It is no accident that I-1125 would prevent Washington State from flexibly using tolls as a funding mechanism for rebuilding crumbling bridges and highways. Nor is it an accident that I-1125 contains a provision intended to prevent Sound Transit from ever bringing light rail across Lake Washington. This is all by design.

For more than a decade, Tim Eyman has sponsored initiatives intended to paralyze public services, destroy our common wealth, and wreck government. I-1125 is just the latest bad idea from his initiative factory. It must be rejected this November if key projects like SR 520 or East Link light rail are to be kept on track.

Vote NO on I-1125.

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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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