Category Archives: Statements & Advisories

Senate Republicans want to raise most Washingtonians’ property taxes — and Tim Eyman is okay with that

Rethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

Late this morning, former initiative promoter (and now Republican lobbyist) Tim Eyman sent out his latest electronic screed, in which he again attacked House Democrats for proposing a budget that would levy a capital gains excise tax and close tax exemptions that are no longer in the public interest to fund K-12 education.

“Democrats are constantly searching for the next white whale of taxes,” Eyman ranted. “But their tax appetite is insatiable. There’s simply not enough money in the world to satisfy them. Seriously, how much is enough? Would a sales tax rate of 15% satisfy them? If property taxes were doubled tomorrow, would they finally shut up? No.”

Washington actually ranks ranks below most other states with respect to state and local tax obligations. But it’s no secret that our upside tax code is the most regressive in the nation. That’s why Governor Inslee and House Democrats declined to propose increasing the state sales tax in their budgets. Nor are they proposing to increase property taxes.

But Senate Republicans are.

Why is Tim Eyman shaking his fist at House Democrats, when it’s Senate Republicans who are pushing to raise property taxes on all but a handful of Washingtonians?

A staff analysis by the nonpartisan House Office of Program Research finds that taxpayers in all but three of Washington’s two hundred and ninety five school districts would see noticeable increases in their property taxes under the Senate Republicans’ levy swipe scheme. However, despite the property tax increases, total funding per student would be nowhere close to the levels that the House Democratic budget would fund.

“The average funding increase per student in School Year 2020-21 (when both plans would be fully implemented) would be $2,926 under the Democratic plan and only $1,913 under the Republican plan,” House Democrats contend.

“Total net new funding statewide over the next four school years would be $8.5 billion under the Democratic plan, and only $4.5 billion under the Republican plan.”

House Democrats have proposed a budget that bolsters the state’s investment in its schools without raising sales or property taxes, which Eyman declared today are too high. Senate Republicans, meanwhile, have proposed a budget that raises property taxes on most Washingtonians while leaving our schools with less money. What a scam!

Two years ago, when Senate Republicans proposed a similar scheme, Eyman went ballistic and called on Governor Jay Inslee to save the day. Said Eyman on April 23rd, 2015:

RE: Senate Republicans propose massive property tax hike — will Inslee save the day?

Candidate Inslee ridiculed the so-called “property tax levy swap.” He repeatedly called it a “gimmick”. He said it was “a classic maneuver by politicians in Olympia.” He said it was a “shell game” that raised taxes on nearly half of all property tax payers. He tore into it with vigor and verve. He was emphatic. He was unambiguous.

The people elected a man who adamantly opposed this.

Will Governor Inslee come riding to the rescue when it comes to the Senate Republicans’ bill (Senate Bill 6109) which does exactly what he ridiculed? In today’s Tacoma News Tribune, they report the Republicans’ bill “would raise property taxes in more than 40 percent of Washington’s school districts.”

Inslee despised it as a candidate, will he stop it as Governor? Can we count on him to protect us from this massive property tax hike?

Fast forward two years, and Eyman’s singing a completely different tune.

He’s offered nothing but praise for the Senate Republicans’ levy swipe scheme, calling it “sustainable” and “a serious budget”. Those are words that could be used to describe the fiscally responsible House Democratic budget, but Eyman can’t stomach that proposal because it would require his wealthy benefactors (like Clyde Holland and Kenneth Fisher) to pay more in dues to our state to support our schools through a capital gains excise tax.

Even though Fisher and Holland have left Eyman high and dry for the second year in a row (without money from benefactors like them, Eyman can’t get on this year’s ballot), he’s still determined to go to the mat to defend their interests.

Eyman was willing two years ago to openly criticize his own party for proposing to increase property taxes as part of its response to the Supreme Court’s McCleary decision. He was vocally opposed. But not anymore. In the span of two years, Eyman went from ardent levy swipe critic to enthusiastic booster.

Who could have imagined that one day, Tim Eyman would be on the record in support of legislation that increases property taxes on most Washingtonians?

These are strange times, indeed.

It’s especially ironic given that Eyman aspires to be on the 2017 ballot with an initiative that would dramatically cut property taxes.

But that initiative, I-1550, isn’t going anywhere… because Eyman’s wealthy benefactors have refused to provide the cash Eyman would need to finance a signature drive.

With Eyman’s initiative factory idle, the state’s most notorious initiative pitchman is now just a Republican lobbyist parroting the party line.

The invective and hyperbole in Eyman’s multiweekly emails is still largely the same, but it’s no longer aimed generally at any elected representatives who dare to suggest an increase in revenue to fund vital public services. Instead, it’s aimed solely at Democrats.

What a boon for Senate Republicans. Two years ago, Eyman was unleashing his ire (and that of his shrinking base) on them for proposing an increase in property taxes. Now, they get a pass from him while Democrats get a double helping of his invective. Such a deal!

NPI, WFEG welcome Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s sweeping new lawsuit against Tim Eyman

Statements & Advisories

This morning, at a press conference at his offices in downtown Seattle, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced the filing of a sweeping new enforcement lawsuit against Tim Eyman, his associate William Agazarm, and the for-profit signature gathering company “Citizen Solutions” in Thurston County Superior Court.

The lawsuit alleges that Eyman repeatedly violated the state’s public disclosure laws by shifting money from one initiative campaign to another and concealing kickbacks he received from his buddies at Citizen Solutions. Ferguson is asking for $2.1 million in penalties and injunctive relief barring Eyman from “participating in or directing financial transactions for any political committees going forward”.

“We thank Attorney General Ferguson for bringing this much-needed enforcement action,” said Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve, who has been organizing opposition to Eyman initiatives for over fifteen years through NPI’s Permanent Defense project. “This has been a long time coming”.

Villeneuve also serves as President of Washingtonians For Ethical Government (WFEG), which formed last year as a people’s campaign finance watchdog for the Evergreen State.

“Tim Eyman is a serial public disclosure law offender. Even after the Public Disclosure Commission announced the findings that led to this lawsuit back in September 2015, Eyman continued to violate our laws with impunity throughout 2016. He launched an illegal independent expenditure against several dozen Democratic lawmakers, failed to report that he transferred a large sum of money between two of his committees, and blatantly disregarded a number of key reporting rules.”

Seeking to hold Eyman accountable for these further violations, NPI partnered with WFEG, which filed multiple citizen’s action notices against Eyman.

NPI’s friends at Keep Washington Rolling filed an additional set of citizen’s action notices. These notices collectively resulted in three related lawsuits against Eyman and his committees by the state back in September.

Additional charges were added in late November.

“Today’s lawsuit is actually the fourth that Bob Ferguson has filed against Eyman for public disclosure law violations, not the first,” Villeneuve noted. “But it is the most significant, because in this lawsuit, Ferguson is asking for substantial penalties and an order from the court that would bar him from continuing to operate his initiative factory. The relief Ferguson is seeking here is entirely appropriate, for Eyman has been warned many times to clean up his act, and he has deliberately failed to do so.”

The investigation that led to today’s lawsuit had its origins in Eyman’s decision in 2012 to use money he raised to qualify one initiative (I-1185) for an entirely separate initiative (I-517) that he didn’t tell his donors from the business community about. In addition to using I-1185 money to qualify I-517, Eyman also pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars for his own personal use without reporting it. The money Eyman pocketed was in addition to the salary that he was collecting out of his committee funds.

NPI member Sherry Bockwinkel, who has been of vital assistance in helping unravel Eyman’s dark money web, filed a complaint with the Public Disclosure Commission in August of 2015 alleging that Eyman had violated numerous provisions of Chapter 42.17A RCW in the course of attempting to qualify I-517. The PDC opened an investigation after I-517 qualified for the ballot, which was not completed for another two and a half years.

In September of 2015, the PDC handed the case off to the Attorney General for further investigation. State attorneys were hampered in their efforts to discover the truth by Eyman’s repeated stonewalling. The state went to court to get its civil orders enforced, and finally got Eyman to turn over key documents that it was seeking last summer.

“Since 2002, NPI’s Permanent Defense has been working tirelessly to expose Tim Eyman’s lies and continued lawbreaking,” said Northwest Progressive Institute President Rick Hegdahl, a Navy veteran. “Fifteen years of work has led up to this action today by the State of Washington. On behalf of NPI’s board, I want to thank our hardworking staff for all they’ve done to fight Eyman’s awful schemes and expose his shameful lawbreaking.”

“This truly is a watershed moment in the history of our Permanent Defense project,” agreed Villeneuve. “We have been calling for Tim Eyman to be held accountable for his wrongdoing for a very, very long time. We are very glad that our Attorney General is seeking an appropriate punishment for Eyman’s many and egregious civil violations.”

“Eyman’s initiative factory was already idle; we hope this litigation results in its permanent dissolution,” Villeneuve added. “For too long, Tim Eyman has menaced our communities with destructive, unconstitutional initiatives deliberately concocted to sabotage our plan of government and destroy our public services.”

“It is time for the Eyman error to be over. Our great state should be a model for progressive governance for the rest of the country. We cannot meet our paramount duty to amply provide all children with an education without implementing progressive tax reform, and we cannot reform our tax code if it continues to be undermined by Tim Eyman initiatives.”

Fifteen Years: Statement from the Founder

Statements & Advisories

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.

Permanent Defense: Fifteen Years
Proudly celebrating fifteen years of fighting right wing initiatives and beating Tim Eyman

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.

If you’re inspired by what PD has accomplished during its fifteen year history, consider making a donation to Permanent Defense PAC now.

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

Permanent Defense Version 9.0 (Fidalgo)
Permanent Defense Version 9.0 (Fidalgo)

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

Victory: 1515 Fails!
Victory: 1515 Fails!

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

Angle Lake Link debuts
The first train to officially carry riders arrives at Angle Lake Station

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

Vote APPROVED on Sound Transit 3
NPI campaign infographic urging an APPROVED vote on Regional Proposition 1 (Sound Transit 3)

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.

ST3 victory press conference
King County Executive Dow Constantine celebrates the passage of ST3 with the Sound Transit Board

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

Déjà vu: Tim Eyman announces initiative that would gut local public services funded by property taxes

Statements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis

Donald Trump admirer Tim Eyman said today he intends to qualify an initiative to the 2017 Washington State ballot that would paralyze the many essential public services provided by Washington’s local governments by gutting their main source of funding.

Eyman’s Initiative 1550 (see text) would slash property tax levies, forcing any not approved by voters to be set at 25% below the amount otherwise allowed. Additionally, it would eliminate personal property taxes and restate the main provision of Eyman’s revenue-limiting I-747, which has been on the books since December of 2001 and is slowly choking the life out of local public services across the state.

NPI is still analyzing I-1550 to assess the breadth of damage it would cause, but it’s safe to say passage of I-1550 would be absolutely devastating to our communities and our economic security,” said NPI’s founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve, who has been organizing opposition to destructive Tim Eyman initiatives for fifteen years.

“Property tax levies fund schools, police, firefighting, emergency medical response, parks, pools, libraries, roads, mass transit, and development and maintenance of critical infrastructure. I-1550 would raze the vital services we each rely on every day. This initiative is a dire threat to the safety, health, and well-being of all Washingtonians.”

“Making matters worse, I-1550 is being proposed at a time when our values are already under attack by Donald Trump. It’s only been a week since Trump assumed power, and already his unlawful and immoral executive orders are causing tremendous harm at home and around the world. Now Tim Eyman, who is being prosecuted by the State of Washington for serious public disclosure law violations, wants to add to the carnage by unleashing wrecking balls on our cities and counties. We’re ready to fight him — and win.”

Those with long memories may recall that Eyman proposed something like I-1550 back in 2004 — Initiative 864 — which failed to qualify for the ballot.

Midway through the I-864 signature drive thirteen years ago, Eyman realized I-864 wasn’t going to make it, so he diverted his energies to qualifying a different measure, I-892. I-892 would have allowed electronic slot machines in every neighborhood in the state, proposing to use the proceeds from that expansion of gambling to offset a property tax cut. It qualified for the ballot thanks to gambling industry money, but it was overwhelmingly rejected by voters, with the no vote statewide surpassing 60%.

“We have fifteen years of experience organizing opposition to Eyman’s destructive initiatives, and we will put all that experience to work to ensure that I-1550 gets the fierce, broad-based, unrelenting opposition it deserves in the event Eyman has managed to persuade his wealthy benefactors to finance this measure,” said Villeneuve. “Without their money, we believe I-1550 will suffer the same fate as I-864 and the last three initiatives Eyman said he was doing but couldn’t get on the ballot.”

Will you join us in opposing Tim Eyman’s I-1550?

If you would like to take a position opposing Tim Eyman’s I-1550, please fill out the form below so we can include you in our coalition organizing. Thank you for helping us defend Washington’s Constitution and common wealth!

Snake oil purveyor Tim Eyman says he’s going to announce new initiative next week — but are his wealthy benefactors on board?

Statements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis

Scam artist and snake oil purveyor Tim Eyman — who remains under investigation by Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office for serious violations of Washington’s public disclosure laws — said in an email today that he will be announcing a new initiative he intends to qualify to the 2017 ballot this coming Monday, January 30th, following his appearance at a weekend gathering of right wing political operatives in Ocean Shores.

Monday’s “announcement” will be Eyman’s fourth such initiative unveiling since the November 2015 general election fifteen months ago. The three previously-announced initiatives came to nothing after Eyman was unable to secure the funding to run a signature drive for any of them. Here’s a recap for those who enjoy keeping score, like we do:

  • November 17th, 2015: Tim Eyman announces he plans to file and qualify an initiative for 2016 that would force any increase in state revenue approved by the Legislature without a two-thirds vote to expire after one year. “We’ve going pedal to the metal on this new initiative,” Eyman vows in the hours preceding a mean-spirited, crudely-orchestrated media event on the Capitol Campus. “Yesterday, we formed and filed paperwork for a separate, stand-alone political action committee: Tougher To Raise Taxes. We’ve now begun raising money for a financial war-chest for this new initiative,” he adds. But due to a lack of commitments from wealthy benefactors, his planned initiative never reaches the signature gathering stage.
  • February 8th, 2016: Tim Eyman launches I-1421, a second initiative for 2016 intended to wipe out funding for Sound Transit, Amtrak Cascades, and WSDOT’s freight mobility programs — and brings pre-printed petitions and t-shirts to his press conference in an attempt to convince reporters and the public that this campaign is for real. “We have from now until July 8th to collect hundreds of thousands of signatures,” Eyman writes in an email sent out that same day. “The only way that’s gonna happen is with every single one of us putting forth a Herculean effort. We need a ton of volunteers to collect signatures. We need to distribute a ton of petitions. We need to raise a ton of money to hire paid petitioners. Voters are gonna be eager to sign our petitions — we need your help to give them every opportunity to sign.” But the funding never materializes, and within a few months, Eyman is forced to acknowledge he’s abandoned I-1421.
  • June 2nd, 2016: Tim Eyman announces he’s still trying to eviscerate funding for rail transit after admitting to The Herald’s Jerry Cornfield that I-1421 “never took off”. Due to having run out of time to qualify anything for the November 2016 ballot, Eyman files this third scheme, I-869, as an initiative to the Legislature for the following year, instead of as an initiative to the people. “Our newest initiative – ‘We Love Our Cars’ – is an initiative to the legislature,” Eyman writes in an email that day. “That means we have from now until the end of December – seven full months – to collect the 300,000 signatures needed.  So we have all summer and fall – June, July, Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec – to qualify this important initiative for the ballot.” Despite having all that time to put together a signature drive, Eyman again fails to secure the necessary funding and I-869 dies without acknowledgment from Eyman.

“Three times during the past fifteen months, Tim Eyman has made a big show of launching a new initiative that he didn’t actually have financing for,” noted Andrew Villeneuve, founder and Executive Director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, who has been building progressive infrastructure to defeat right wing initiatives and advance progressive causes since February of 2002, when NPI’s Permanent Defense was launched.

Whatever Eyman has planned for Monday is dead on arrival unless he’s convinced his wealthy benefactors to turn the cash spigot back on. But why should they do that when he has repeatedly demonstrated he cannot be trusted with their money — or anyone else’s money? Eyman is a serial public disclosure law violator and an admitted liar who has spent the past year sending incessant appeals for money to a shrinking base of followers while opening himself up to greater and greater liability by continuing to blatantly violate our state’s public disclosure laws.

“In the unfortunate event Eyman has secured financing for a 2017 initiative or does in time to buy his way onto the ballot, we are prepared to immediately begin pulling together a coalition to protect our Constitution and our common wealth,” said Villeneuve. “We must uphold Washington’s finest traditional values — empathy, mutual responsibility, fairness, and opportunity — especially with Donald Trump wreaking havoc at the federal level. In partnership with other caring Washingtonians, we will continue to ensure Eyman’s destructive initiatives get the vigorous opposition they deserve.”

WFEG, NPI thank Attorney General Ferguson for filing new charges against Tim Eyman

Statements & Advisories

Initiative promoter Tim Eyman is facing new charges that he failed to follow Washington’s public disclosure laws when he set up his latest ballot measure committee (“We Love Our Cars”) after attorneys for the State of Washington filed an amended campaign finance complaint against him and his co-defendants in Thurston County Superior Court.

The amended complaint was prompted by a citizen’s action notice filed on September 16th by Washingtonians For Ethical Government (WFEG), a nonprofit founded to serve as a people’s campaign finance watchdog for the Evergreen State.

WFEG previously sent a citizen’s action notice in the spring that alleged another one of Eyman’s committees had failed to properly report an independent expenditure. PDC staff found merit to the allegations and they were incorporated into one of three complaints filed by Ferguson’s office in Thurston County Superior Court back in September.

WFEG boardmember and Northwest Progressive Institute (NPI) Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve thanked Attorney General Ferguson’s office for reviewing the allegations and determining there was sufficient evidence to file new charges.

“Tim Eyman is a serial violator of our state’s public disclosure laws,” said Villeneuve. “Even while under investigation for concealment by Attorney General Ferguson’s office, Eyman and his associates have continued to brazenly flout RCW Chapter 42.17A. When they set up their newest committee, ‘We Love Our Cars’, they failed to account for where the committee’s startup money, totaling $143,947.61, came from. The law explicitly requires that they report the source of their contributions. They didn’t do that when they set up this committee, and incredibly, they still haven’t.”

“We Love Our Cars” was formed to promote I-869, an initiative to the Legislature intended to wipe out funding for Sound Transit, Amtrak Cascades, and WSDOT’s freight mobility programs. In emails to his followers, Eyman is still regularly pitching the initiative and asking for money to qualify it, but NPI has found no evidence of a signature drive and the committee’s only reported expenditures in months have been to reimburse Eyman for travel expenses and computer and telephone expenses.

The deadline to submit signatures for initiatives to the 2017 Legislature is at the end of this month, so Eyman only has a few more weeks to pretend that I-869 is an active effort.

Eyman and his associates are already in trouble for a number of previous violations of RCW Chapter 42.17A, including violations uncovered by the Northwest Progressive Institute and Washingtonians For Ethical Government earlier this year.

As mentioned, the discovery of these violations led to the filing of three lawsuits in September by Ferguson’s office, one of which has now been amended to incorporate the new charges.

“Tim Eyman and his associates have been in politics for a long time and must be held accountable for their continued lawbreaking,” said Villeneuve. “They have been given many, many chances to voluntarily comply with the reporting requirements of RCW Chapter 42.17A and clean up their act. They have neglected to do so. Significant penalties should be imposed by the courts against them as a consequence.”

Washingtonians For Ethical Government is represented by Knoll Lowney of Smith & Lowney, PLLC. Knoll Lowney’s past 45-day notice letters have resulted in significant penalties and litigation. His 45-day notice letter against the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) resulted in the imposition of a $584,000 penalty against the BIAW’s for-profit affiliate. More recently, his 45-day notice letter against the Grocery Manufacturers Association led to Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office litigating what it calls “the largest political funding concealment case in state history.”

Tim Eyman’s latest scam: Fundraising for an anti-transit initiative he knows is dead

Eye on Money: DevelopmentsStatements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis

Donald Trump admirer and Mukilteo-based initiative profiteer Tim Eyman certainly has been busy the last few weeks — cheering on his pal Ram Roach in her county council race, showing up at the King County Courthouse to attack Dow Constantine, and singing the praises of Doug Ericksen and Michael Baumgartner, who promised this week they’ll make another attempt to subvert majority rule in the Washington State Senate in 2017.

But one thing we know Eyman hasn’t been doing is making a serious attempt to qualify Initiative 869 to the Legislature.

Remember I-869? It’s the initiative Eyman said he was running to sabotage funding for Sound Transit, Amtrak Cascades, and WSDOT’s freight mobility programs back in June.

Eyman announced I-869 on June 2nd, 2016, writing, “Our newest initiative – ‘We Love Our Cars’ – is an initiative to the legislature. That means we have from now until the end of December – 7 full months – to collect the 300,000 signatures needed. So we have all summer and fall – June, July, Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec – to qualify this important initiative for the ballot.  There’s no doubt it’s desperately needed.”

Eyman set up a committee named “We Love Our Cars” (identical to the initiative’s aforementioned slogan) to raise money for I-869. At the end of practically every email he’s sent out to his followers since then, he’s included this pitch:

Petitions for “We Love Our Cars” I-869 have been sent out (if you need more, just email or call). Our polling shows it’s another big winner.  Please help us make it a reality.

Look at PDC reports filed for “We Love Our Cars”, though, and you’ll see the committee has raised only $159,961.01 . It was seeded with $143,947.61 in unreported mystery money in July (which in September became the subject of a citizen’s action notice sent by Washingtonians For Ethical Government) and has raised only $16,013.40 in cash.

The expense reports don’t show a single expenditure of funds for paid signature gathering. But they do show that last month, Eyman personally reimbursed himself $2,994.01 for “fundraising and travel” and another $1,569.81 for “computer and telephone”.  No other expenses — not even one — have been reported for this committee since July.

“Tim Eyman knows that I-869 will soon become his latest failed initiative. We are nearly a month away from the deadline to submit signatures to the 2017 Legislature, and we cannot find any evidence of a signature drive for I-869,” said Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve, who has been watchdogging Eyman and his initiative factory for nearly fifteen years.

“Eyman has been unable to secure the megabucks he would have needed to buy I-869 a place on the ballot, and he’s run out of time to launch a signature drive. But it appears he’s intentionally neglected to tell his followers what’s really going on because he feels he must always have something to sell. He only admitted I-1421 was doomed last spring when he was ready to unveil I-869, which took its place.”

“If this pattern holds, Eyman will go on pretending I-869 is still a thing right up until he suddenly swaps it out one day for a new scheme.”

“Tim should level with the people on his email list he’s been asking to give to I-869 and tell them what’s really going on. And he should get expert help to clean up his books so that he can properly comply with our public disclosure laws. The question is, will he? If history is any indication, he won’t. That’s why it is so important he be held accountable. We will continue to do our part, and we hope Attorney General Bob Ferguson will do his.”

NPI thanks Attorney General Bob Ferguson for filing three new campaign finance complaints against Tim Eyman

Statements & Advisories

Today, Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office announced that the State of Washington has filed three new campaign finance complaints against initiative promoter Tim Eyman and his associates in Thurston County Superior Court. The complaints concern violations of RCW Chapter 42.17A uncovered by NPI’s Permanent Defense, Washingtonians For Ethical Government (WFEG), and Keep Washington Rolling (KWR), which were the subject of a set of citizen action notices sent by WFEG and KWR in May and June.

RCW 42.17A.765 (4) allows a person or organization who believes Washington’s public disclosure laws to have been violated to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the state to enforce the law, but only if the Attorney General and the Prosecuting Attorney of the county in which the violation occurred are given an opportunity to sue first and choose not to do so.

The citizen’s action is a crucially important enforcement tool, because the Public Disclosure Commission can take a long time to process traditional complaints due to being underfunded and understaffed. For example, more than three years transpired before Sherry Bockwinkel’s 2012 complaint against Tim Eyman and his campaign committees was fully investigated by PDC staff and acted on by the Commission.

One year ago, in September of 2015, the PDC unanimously voted to refer that case to Ferguson’s office for further action. Ferguon’s investigators have spent months trying to acquire the evidence they need to complete their investigation, but they’ve been hindered by Eyman and his associates’ repeated refusal to cooperate. Over the summer, attorneys representing the people of Washington went to court to compel Eyman’s cooperation.

In the meantime, Eyman has continued to brazenly flout RCW Chapter 42.17A. NPI believes aggressive and timely enforcement is needed to prevent Eyman from making a mockery of Washington’s public disclosure laws, and is committed to doing its part to uncover future potential violations and laying the groundwork for speedy prosecution of those violations.

Working with Washingtonians For Ethical Government, NPI recently discovered that Eyman had once again broken the law by concealing the source of most of the funds raised by his newest political committee, We Love Our Cars, which was formed in June. This month, WFEG notified Attorney General Ferguson and King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg it plans to file suit against Eyman over this concealment through another citizen’s action.

“Tim Eyman is a serial offender who continues to violate our public disclosure laws with impunity,” said Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve, who also serves as a boardmember of Washingtonians For Ethical Government. “Justice is not served when it takes years for prolific violators like Eyman to be held accountable for flouting the basic reporting rules established by the people and the people’s legislators to shine a light on money in politics in Washington.”

“Fortunately, the law provides a useful tool for expediting enforcement: the citizen’s action. These complaints all appropriately began with the sending of citizen’s action notices. We thank Attorney General Ferguson for stepping up to take on these cases. We will be following future developments with great interest.”

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.

I-695’s devastating impact is no laughing matter

Election PostmortemRethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

Irked by a letter to the editor published by The Herald of Everett, initiative profiteer Tim Eyman this morning sent out an email to his followers ridiculing elected representatives and civic leaders over their opposition to I-695 (on the ballot in November of 1999), which wiped out billions of dollars in funding for public services following its implementation by the Legislature in 2000.

“[F]or nearly a decade, our initiative was blamed for most everything. ‘Heavy rainfall in Seattle caused by I-695’ — ‘I-695 spurs riots in LA’ — ‘Earthquake in East Timor exacerbated by I-695’. Our opponents couldn’t get enough of it. But eventually, their silliness eventually dissipated,” Eyman wrote in his email.

To NPI’s knowledge, no one opposed to I-695 has blamed it for out-of-state civil unrest, bad weather, or earthquakes abroad. However, Eyman’s I-695 has been blamed — and deservedly so — for having made our tax code more regressive and weakened the vital public services which our tax system funds.

The devastating impacts of I-695 are no laughing matter, nor were they overstated by Lynnwood’s Jerry Fraser in his letter to the editor.

Before I-695 was reinstated by Governor Gary Locke and lawmakers, the state-level MVET was projected to bring in more than one and half billion dollars during the 2001-2003 biennium, as noted by the Office of Financial Management (OFM) in its 1999 fiscal impact statement:

In the aggregate, I-695 would reduce motor vehicle taxes and fees by up to $1.1 billion in the 1999-01 Biennium and by up to $1.7 billion in the 2001-03 Biennium… As detailed on Table 1, the initiative would eliminate up to $1.1 billion in state revenues in the 1999-01 Biennium and up to $1.7 billion in the 2001-03 Biennium, which currently support transportation, criminal justice, public health, and other programs.  It also repeals the statutory method for the valuation of vehicles, as well as the distribution formulas for MVET revenue.

OFM’s analysis went on to offer a list of major public services funded by the state MVET:

  • Local transit districts
  • County public health account
  • Distressed county assistance account
  • Ferry capital construction account
  • Ferry operations account
  • Motor vehicle fund
  • Transportation fund
  • City & county sales tax equalization
  • Municipal & county criminal justice

Prior to its repeal, about 47% of the statewide MVET went to state transportation, while 29% went to local transit agencies and 24% went to local governments.

Below is a compendium of four fact sheets documenting the impact that I-695 was projected to have on a selection of county and city governments throughout the state:

Passage of Tim Eyman’s I-695, and the Legislature’s subsequent decision to reinstate it after it was struck down by the State Supreme Court in the ATU case had huge ramifications (like delayed/lost bond sales), and ushered in an era of backfilling at all levels of government that went on for years.

“We’re not even close to filling the holes,” State Representative Hans Dunshee told The Seattle Times a few months after the 1999 general election. “The largest impacts of I-695 will be unaddressed. That’s going to take more working and more thinking.”

Times editors felt the fallout from I-695 was so significant and newsworthy that they established a special section on seattletimes.com to chronicle developments.

To replace the sudden, giant funding loss resulting from I-695, state agencies and local governments across Washington were forced to resort to drastic emergency measures.

Washington State Ferries was forced to hike fares dramatically (because funding for operations decreased by 58% and capital funding decreased by 70%).

The City of Mountlake Terrace stopped providing animal control.

Washington State University instructed its extension offices to begin preparing for massive budget cuts.

And the laudable goal of reducing class size and putting more money into schools fell by the wayside as the Legislature struggled to backfill the loss of MVET money.

In some cases, voters were asked to approve tax increases to replace lost funding.

In Longview, voters were asked to approve a flood control levy (and they said yes). The success of the levy mitigated one problem, but basic and essential public services still took a big hit in a Longview. The Daily News reported on November 16th, 2000:

The loss of motor vehicle excise taxes with last year’s passage of Initiative 695 hit Longview hard, and will reduce city revenue by about $1.4 million in 2001-2002, [Longview finance director Kurt] Sacha said. All city departments took cuts, and Longview police lost five officer positions in 2000.

King County Metro also went to the voters to gain back lost funding (and again, the voters said yes). Unfortunately, in Metro’s case, the mechanism the Legislature came up with to allow the agency to backfill from I-695 was an increase in its sales tax authority.

So even though the voters said yes to Metro’s request, the dot-com bust wiped out the projected revenue, as this 2010 King County Metro “System Overview” presentation explained on Slide 19 (“Funding Issues”):

  • 1999: I-695 approved. Metro’s funding reduced by $110 million per year (29% of budget)
  • 2000: Transit sales tax authority raised by Legislature to 0.9 percent
  • 2000: 0.2 percent Metro sales tax approved
  • 2000: Dot com bust: The projected sales tax growth to fund most of the service adds in the plan is lost
  • Plan became largely unfunded, but included the revised allocation policy of “40-40-20

In Snohomish County, Community Transit initially responded to I-695 by laying off dozens off bus drivers. Here’s how the Seattle Times reported it:

You’re a mean one, Mr. Eyman. All the bus drivers in Whoville say so.

Whoville, of course, is where the Grinch stole Christmas. And Community Transit (CT) drivers in Snohomish County who received layoff notices on the eve of the holidays want everyone to know that Initiative 695 sponsor Tim Eyman is their Grinch.

They gathered yesterday at the Labor Temple here to tell how Eyman – and the state’s voters – took their holiday cheer.

Pink slips were handed to 90 CT drivers and other employees earlier this month, announcing layoffs effective Feb. 6. Thirty other employees will be cut from full- to part-time status. The move was made in response to a projected loss of $18.7 million, 30 percent of CT’s budget next year.

Community Transit subsequently reversed some cuts to bus service using temporary funding. County leaders warned residents at the time that the service restorations might not be permanent. And sure enough, they weren’t. Sunday service went away that same year. It was brought back in 2002, then indefinitely suspended again in 2010 along with paratransit for disabled Snohomish County residents.

Five long years went by before Community Transit brought back Sunday service.

The motor vehicle excise tax used to be a stable revenue source that transit agencies could count on. After the statewide MVET was eviscerated, transit agencies became heavily dependent on sales taxes. As anyone with a basic understanding of public finance knows, the sales tax yields less revenue during economic downturns. Downturns, however, are precisely when many people rely on public services the most.

Community Transit, Metro, Sound Transit, and other transit providers will be facing the same predicaments they’ve grappled with in the past as soon as another recession occurs. Sales tax funding will go down, and that will jeopardize essential service that people rely on.

This is one of the many long-term consequences of I-695 that Tim Eyman never wants to talk about. He may not ride the bus, but hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians do. To them, the prospect of not being able to get to their job on Sunday, or utilize paratransit service to participate in community functions, is very scary.

Tim Eyman can pretend the real and serious consequences of I-695 don’t exist, but neither we nor our elected representatives can afford to live in his fantasyland.

Washington is home to more than seven million people. By working together and pooling our resources, there is much we can accomplish. To move forward and raise our quality of life, it’s imperative that we reject Tim Eyman’s destructive agenda and reaffirm that we believe in the values that Washington was founded on. We call upon our elected representatives at all levels to work with us to undo the harm caused by Eyman’s past initiatives as well as defeat any new schemes that Eyman comes up with.

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