Category Archives: In the Courts

NPI applauds Attorney General Bob Ferguson for going to court to put an end to Tim Eyman’s stonewalling

In the Courts

Following Attorney General Bob Ferguon’s announcement today that his office has filed motions in Snohomish and Thurston Superior Court to enforce subpoenas issued as part of the state’s investigation into Tim Eyman’s egregious violations of Washiington’s public disclosure laws, the Northwest Progressive Institute called on Eyman and his associates to stop stonewalling and cooperate fully with investigators.

“We commend Attorney General Ferguson for going to court to compel Tim Eyman to turn over the records needed to investigate the illegal concealment uncovered by the Public Disclosure Commission during its investigation into the 2012 I-517 and I-1185 campaigns,” said NPI founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve.

“Today’s court filings make it plainly clear that Tim Eyman has been incredibly uncooperative with the Attorney General’s investigation since it began last autumn. He has refused to turn over documentation that would reveal what really happened. What little he has produced has been heavily redacted, suggesting he and is attorney are trying to drag this out as long as possible, and increase the cost of the investigation to taxpayers.”

“This stonewalling is completely unacceptable, and it needs to end immediately.”

“If Eyman expects to be exonerated, as his attorney Mark Lamb has previously said, then why is he refusing to cooperate with the state’s investigation? We can only conclude that it is because the evidence will show that Eyman is guilty of the charges against him, and Eyman wants to put off his day of reckoning for as long as possible. But that day is coming, and Eyman can’t stop it.”

Earlier today, in a related development, the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) notified Washingtonians For Ethical Government (WFEG) that it has opened an investigation into its allegations that Tim Eyman again broke the law by failing to report the launch of an April 2016 independent expenditure against several dozen Democratic state legislators, and for failing to include required disclosures in the ads produced as part of the expenditure.

WFEG notified Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg on May 25th in a forty-five day notice letter that it would bring a citizens’ action against Eyman in Superior Court if the state did not take action against Eyman. On June 7th, 2016, the Attorney General referred the matter to the PDC for review. The PDC has now opened an investigation into the allegations and assigned a case number — 5729.

“We are pleased to hear that the PDC is investigating Eyman’s most recent public disclosure law violations,” said Villeneuve, who serves as a boardmember of Washingtonians For Ethical Government. “Tim Eyman is a serial offender who needs to be held accountable. He has been given plenty of opportunities to clean up his act, and he has failed to do so. He should be penalized to the maximum extent the law allows for these violations, as well as his previous violations.”

Supreme Court affirms ruling that Tim Eyman’s I-1366 is unconstitutional in its entirety

In the Courts

This morning, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Tim Eyman’s I-1366 is unconstitutional, affirming King County Superior Court Judge William Downing’s January ruling striking down the initiative as null and void in its entirety. Six justices signed the majority opinion, authored by Chief Justice Barbara Madsen, while the remaining three justices signed a concurring opinion authored by Associate Justice Steven González.

No further appeal is possible, so today’s verdict means that I-1366 is dead.

I-1366, narrowly approved by a fewer than twenty percent of the state’s registered voters last November, attempted to coerce legislators into passing a constitutional amendment to permanently require a two-thirds vote to raise revenue.

In the event lawmakers refused to vote for Eyman’s desired amendment by April 15th, 2016, the sales tax would have been cut by about 15%, depriving Washington’s public services of a whopping $8 billion over six years.

However, I-1366’s sales tax cut was never implemented because the initiative was found to be unconstitutional by Judge Downing. With that decision now affirmed, I-1366 is no longer a threat to Washington’s people or future.

“We are elated by today’s ruling,” said Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve, who has been organizing opposition to Tim Eyman initiatives for more than fourteen years.

“This is truly a great moment for our beloved state. Today, one of the most destructive Eyman initiatives of all time has been finally sent to the graveyard of Washington politics by a united Supreme Court. Our popularly-elected Justices stood up for us and upheld our Constitution, safeguarding our tradition of majority rule and putting a stop to Tim Eyman’s outrageous abuse of the initiative power.”

“All of us at NPI extend our deepest thanks to Paul Lawrence and the team at Pacifica Law Group that represented our courageous and dedicated friends Reuven Carlyle, David Frockt, Paul Bell, Eden Mack, Tony Lee, Angela Bartels, Jerry Reilly, and the League of Women Voters of Washington in this important case. They were outstanding, and they brought the best case we believe could possibly have been brought against this awful initiative, all but guaranteeing it would be thrown out.”

“We look forward to celebrating this victory with our tireless supporters, who have kept us going through thick and thin.”

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 here.

Statement on Judge Downing’s decision in Lee v. State

In the Courts

This morning, King County Judge William Downing ruled that Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1366 is void in its entirety because it violates multiple provisions of the Washington State Constitution.

Northwest Progressive Institute and Permanent Defense founder Andrew Villeneuve released the following statement in response to the decision.

“We’re thrilled with today’s decision by Judge Downing striking down Tim Eyman’s unconstitutional I-1366,” said Villeneuve. “Judge Downing correctly concluded that I-1366 could not stand because it violates Articles II and XXIII of our Constitution, as we have said all along. Our courts have a responsibility to protect our plan of government from destructive, malicious schemes like Initiative 1366. This decision is a landmark victory for majority rule and for the rule of law.”

“We extend our profound thanks to Paul Lawrence at the team at Pacifica Law Group for ably representing plaintiffs Tony Lee, Angela Bartels, Eden Mack, Reuven Carlyle, David Frockt, Paul Bell, Jerry Reilly, and the League of Women Voters in this case.”

“The legal challenge against Initiative 1366 isn’t over yet. We expect the state and sponsors to appeal this ruling immediately to the Washington State Supreme Court. We are confident that Judge Downing’s well-reasoned decision will be upheld on appeal by the nine justices of our highest court.”

Bravado won’t stop Tim Eyman’s I-1366 from being struck down as unconstitutional

In the Courts

This morning, King County Superior Court Judge William Downing heard oral arguments in Tony Lee, et al. v. State of Washington, et al., the legal challenge to Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1366. I-1366 is Eyman’s most recent and most destructive initiative yet; it was narrowly passed by voters in last November’s general election, which set a record for the lowest general election turnout (38.45%) since the state began its voter registration system in the 1930s.

I-1366 is an outrageous attempt to coerce the Legislature into sabotaging Washington’s tradition of passing bills and budgets by majority rule. It would wipe out $8 billion in sales tax revenue over the next six years unless the Legislature capitulates to Eyman’s wishes and passes a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds vote to raise or recover any revenue going forward, which would have the effect of locking Washington’s broken, regressive tax system into place permanently.

In late November, at the time the 2015 general election was certified, I-1366 was challenged in court by the League of Women Voters of Washington, State Senators Reuven Carlyle and David Frockt, Paramount Duty co-organizer Eden Mack, Gerry Reilly, Paul Bell, Tony Lee, and Angela Bartels. Plaintiffs allege that I-1366 is unconstitutional because it contains multiple subjects, runs afoul of the Constitution’s amendment process, exceeds the scope of the people’s initiative power, and improperly restricts the lawmaking power of the 2016 Legislature.

“We strongly agree with the plaintiffs in Lee v. State that Tim Eyman’s I-1366 egregiously violates our plan of government, which has served us well since statehood,” said Northwest Progressive Institute and Permanent Defense founder Andrew Villeneuve, who has been organizing opposition to Tim Eyman’s initiative factory for nearly fourteen years.

“Our state’s founders did their best to come up with a plan of government for Washington that struck a balance between majority rule with minority rights. Sadly, Tim Eyman is so obsessed with upsetting this balance that he has resorted to extortion. He has a knack for crafting deceptive initiatives that self-mask their harm, which makes mounting opposition campaigns in the court of public opinion very difficult. We worked hard against I-1366 last autumn, and while we weren’t able to defeat it then, we were successful in bolstering the no vote in the late ballots.”

“We’re very grateful to Paul Lawrence, Sarah Washburn, and Kymberly Evanson at Pacifica Law Group for taking on this case and carrying on the fight against this awful initiative. Paul was very impressive and on point during oral arguments in court this morning. He thoroughly refuted the defendants’ disingenuous arguments.”

“Tim Eyman’s incessant boasting and continued predictions of total victory have us wondering if he was at at the same hearing that we were. Bravado isn’t going to stop I-1366 from being struck down as unconstitutional.”

“We’re looking forward to reading Judge Downing’s ruling on Thursday. Regardless of what it says, we will continue to fight to uphold our Constitution and our cherished plan of majority rule, so that our state government continues to function the way our founders intended it to.”

Statement on Supreme Court’s ruling in Huff v. Wyman

In the CourtsStatements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis

Late this morning, the Supreme Court released its ruling in Huff v. Wyman, the preelection legal challenge to Tim Eyman’s I-1366, which sought I-1366’s removal from the November 2015 general election ballot on the basis that 1366 was beyond the scope of the people’s initiative power. The Court decided on September 4th, 2015, that plaintiffs, led by King County Elections Director Sherril Huff and Thurston County Auditor Mary Hall, had not made the clear showing necessary for injunctive relief, but retained the case for a later ruling on the merits. That explanatory ruling was released today.

“We thank the Supreme Court for the timely decision it released today explaining why it did not grant an injunction removing Tim Eyman’s I-1366 from the ballot last summer,” said Northwest Progressive Institute founder and executive director Andrew Villeneuve, who has been organizing opposition to Eyman’s initiatives since February of 2002.

“We agree with King County Superior Court Judge Dean Lum that the fundamental and overriding purpose of I-1366 is to coerce the Legislature, and particularly Democratic lawmakers, into invoking the constitutional amendment process spelled out in Article XXIII, something that an initiative simply cannot do.”

“Today’s ruling from the Supreme Court did not definitively answer the question of whether I-1366 is beyond the scope of the initiative power. We believe this is a question that needs to be answered, and we hope it will be addressed in the forthcoming postelection legal challenge. As we said on Election Night, we remain committed to defeating this incredibly destructive hostage-taking initiative, so that our state’s public services and tradition of majority rule are protected. We will be fully supporting the new challenge to I-1366 that will be filed in the days to come. We urge the courts to swiftly take up this matter and uphold our state Constitution by striking down Tim Eyman’s I-1366 in its entirety.”

Statement on the Supreme Court’s order in Huff v. Wyman

Eye on Money: DevelopmentsFrom the Campaign TrailIn the Courts

This morning, the Washington State Supreme Court rendered a preliminary verdict in Huff v. Wyman, the scope challenge to Tim Eyman’s I-1366. The Court has ruled unanimously that plaintiffs’ request for an injunction should be denied, which we understand means that I-1366 will appear on the November 2015 ballot.

“While we are disappointed in this order, this outcome was not unexpected, and we have continued all summer to lay the groundwork needed for an autumn campaign in partnership with NO on I-1366 coalition staff,” said Northwest Progressive Institute founder Andrew Villeneuve, who posted a first read of the Court’s order to NPI’s principal publication, the Cascadia Advocate.

(The Cascadia Advocate is a sister project of Permanent Defense).

“I-1366 is the most destructive initiative Tim Eyman has ever proposed,” Villeneuve said. “It would wipe out $8 billion in sales tax revenue over six years unless the Legislature agrees to a constitutional change that would sabotage the Constitution’s majority vote requirement for passage of bills — which dates back to statehood.”

“I-1366 represents an attempt by Tim Eyman to blackmail a significant number of our state’s lawmakers into voting against their values by taking Washington’s youth as hostages. I-1366 is an outrageous abuse of the people’s initiative power, and we are committed to mounting a strong campaign to defeat it in November. We’re ready to bring Washingtonians together to uphold our Constitution and protect the values our state was founded on.”

The growing coalition against I-1366 now includes AARP Washington State, OneAmerica Votes, the Mainstream Republicans of Washington, Washington State Democratic Party, League of Women Voters of Washington, NAMI Washington, and dozens more. An updated list is available from the NO on I-1366 coalition.

In a separate development, Jerry Cornfield of The Herald reported last night that state attorneys have filed a motion in Snohomish County Superior Court seeking to compel Eyman to cooperate with the Public Disclosure Commission’s stalled, long-running investigation into Eyman’s I-517, the 2013 “initiative on initiatives” that Washington voters overwhelmingly defeated. The investigation stems from a complaint filed by activist Sherry Bockwinkel in August of 2012.

“We are pleased to see that Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office is assisting the PDC with its investigation into Tim Eyman and his associates’ wrongdoing,” said Villeneuve. “This complaint is over three years old and should have been resolved long ago, but it’s evident that Tim Eyman and his associates have not been fully cooperating with investigators — despite what they told The Herald. Eyman has a long history of flouting our public disclosure law. It heartens us to see that the PDC hasn’t given up on this case and is pursuing it with the help of our state attorneys. We look forward to seeing the investigation completed.”

Statement on Judge Dean Lum’s decision in Huff v. Wyman

In the Courts

This afternoon, King County Superior Court Judge Dean Lum handed down his opinion in the matter of Huff v. Wyman, the legal challenge seeking to remove Tim Eyman’s I-1366 from the November 2015 statewide ballot on the grounds that it exceeds the scope of the people’s initiative power. While the judge declined to grant plaintiffs’ motion for an injunction barring I-1366 from the ballot (see this analysis from the Cascadia Advocate), he did find I-1366 beyond the scope.

Northwest Progressive Institute founder and executive director Andrew Villeneuve released the following statement in response to the decision.

“We are heartened by Judge Lum’s unequivocal finding that Tim Eyman’s I-1366 is beyond the scope of the people’s initiative power. As we have said all along, I-1366 is a hostage-taking scheme intended to coerce our elected representatives into sabotaging the majority vote requirement of our state Constitution, upsetting our plan of government’s carefully crafted balance between majority rule and minority rights.”

“I-1366 goes well beyond what an initiative is constitutionally allowed to be. As Judge Lum recognized, it is a malicious attempt to set in motion a constitutional amendment by the use of blackmail.”

“Allowing I-1366 to go to the ballot would set a dangerous ‘anything goes’ precedent. Though Judge Lum did not grant the plaintiffs’ motion for an injunction barring I-1366 from appearing on the ballot, we are gratified that he has rendered an opinion on the merits of the plaintiffs’ scope challenge. This case now moves to the Supreme Court, and we encourage the Court to uphold our Constitution and stop Tim Eyman’s abuse of the people’s initiative power by removing I-1366 from the ballot.”

NPI’s Permanent Defense applauds legal challenge to Tim Eyman’s I-1366

In the Courts

This morning, a group of plaintiffs, including King County Elections Director Sherril Huff, Thurston County Auditor Mary Hall, and Democratic lawmakers David Frockt and Reuven Carlyle filed a lawsuit seeking to block Tim Eyman’s incredibly destructive I-1366 from the ballot because it exceeds the scope of the initiative power as set forth in the Constitution of Washington State.

Northwest Progressive Institute founder Andrew Villeneuve had the following to say in response to the commencement of legal proceedings by the plaintiffs, represented by Pacifica Law Group’s Paul Lawrence, Kymberly Evanson, and Sarah Washburn.

“We applaud and fully support the decision by our elected representatives and fellow activists to go to court to have Tim Eyman’s I-1366 blocked from placement on the November 2015 ballot,” said Villeneuve.

“In our view, I-1366 clearly exceeds the scope of the people’s initiative power. It is an attempt to do an end-run around Article XXIII of our state Constitution, which explicitly says that constitutional amendments must originate in the Legislature and receive a two-thirds vote of each house to pass.”

“Tim Eyman has now discovered for himself that two-thirds is a very high bar… and as he doesn’t have the support in either house for an amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s League of Education Voters decision, he’s resorted to blackmail with I-1366.”

“But once again, he’s run afoul of our Constitution. Initiatives can be used to make or amend ordinary laws. The initiative power can’t be used to amend the Constitution. It is the Legislature’s prerogative to propose constitutional amendments to the people. Eyman is infringing on the House and Senate’s constitutional role by trying to coerce the Legislature into exercising its prerogative by threatening to wipe out $8 billion in sales tax revenue over six years if they don’t. Because I-1366 is outside the scope of the initiative power, our courts should remove it from the ballot and spare us all the time and expense of having to vote on Eyman’s illegitimate, illegal hostage-taking scheme.”

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.

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