Category Archives: Threat Analysis

Oh, the hypocrisy: Well paid politician Tim Eyman doesn’t want our elected representatives to get pay raises

Rethinking and ReframingStatements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis

It’s hard to think of a politician who more powerfully epitomizes the word shameless than Tim Eyman, especially when it comes to matters of dollars and cents.

The fifty-two year old has been a full time politician for almost twenty years and is so obsessed with profiting from politics that he has orchestrated illegal schemes to steer more of his donors’ money into his own pockets without their knowledge.

But while Eyman loves helping himself to his donors’ money, he doesn’t think our elected representatives’ pay should be increased, declaring this week that he wants to subject the salary increases proposed by the Washington Citizens’ Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials to a statewide referendum and overturned.

Eyman’s mantra is “Give Them Nothing”, which implies our elected representatives shouldn’t be paid anything at all, let alone the increases the Commission has proposed.

“At NPI, we’ve lost track of how many times we’ve heard Republican candidates and right wingers like Eyman insist that government should be run like a business,” said Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve, who has been organizing opposition to destructive Eyman schemes for nearly seventeen years.

“It sure is a frequent refrain in their discourse. In the private sector, though, compensation is considered very important to the recruitment and retention of high caliber candidates for executive positions. If right wing Republicans like Eyman really want government run like a business, shouldn’t they be willing to pay top dollar to attract the very best people to serve in our Legislature, judiciary, and executive department? How do you get competent government if your mantra is ‘Give Them Nothing’?”

Eyman has some nerve railing against pay increases for politicians considering his own long-running obsession with profiting from politics.

Seventeen years ago, Eyman famously professed to be working on initiative campaigns for free, when he was in reality transferring large sums of money out of his campaign committees to pay himself, and then lying about it.

Northwest Passage Consulting principal Christian Sinderman and others suspected what Eyman was up to, and in early 2002, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer published an investigate report about Eyman’s suspicious money transfers. Eyman continued to deny what he’d done until his guilty conscience caught up with him. He called up The Associated Press’ David Ammons and confessed, saying “it was the biggest lie of my life”.

“The fact is, it is true that I made money in past campaigns and planned to make money on future campaigns,” Eyman told Ammons in a rambling confession. “This entire charade was set up so I could maintain a moral superiority over our opposition, so I could say our opponents make money from politics and I don’t.”

“I want to continue to advocate issues and I want to make a lot of money doing it,” Eyman added. Seventeen years later, it’s quite apparent that this particular statement is one of the few Eyman has made that can be called entirely truthful.

After he was caught lying in 2002, Eyman began openly paying himself a salary out of campaign funds and also raising money for what he called his “compensation fund”.

But that was not enough.

The ever-greedy Eyman concocted a scheme with one of his vendors to receive kickbacks from them that were not reported to the Public Disclosure Commission. Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office is trying to get to the bottom of this concealment scheme, but has been stymied by Eyman’s refusal to cooperate. Eyman remains in contempt of court and on the hook for $500 daily fines for refusing to turn over records in the case.

The Washington Citizens’ Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials has a constitutional obligation to examine the salaries of our elected officials and propose adjustments to those salaries. Created by a vote of the people in 1986, it is one of the few commissions of its kind. Its salary changes can be overturned by referendum as provided for in Article XXVIII of the Washington State Constitution, but the pay increases the Commission has proposed for 2019-2020 are entirely reasonable.

“I have yet to hear Cougar alum Tim Eyman complain about how much Washington State University is paying Mike Leach to coach their football team,” said Villeneuve, who noted that Leach and UW head football coach Chris Petersen make far more than anyone serving the people of Washington in the statehouse.

Leach is set to make $3.5 million alone this season… more than the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, State Auditor, State Treasurer, Secretary of State, Commissioner of Public Lands, Insurance Commissioner, and Superintendent of Public Instruction combined. Petersen is making even more than Leach; he took home $4.125 million last season. The Huskies and Cougars each have many additional coaches who make more than what anyone serving in the statehouse makes.

Villeneuve noted that while statewide elected officials’ pay is enough to support a family on, Washington’s legislators are not well compensated for the jobs that they do.

“Most of our lawmakers currently receive a salary of $48,731,” Villeneuve pointed out. (Certain lawmakers receive higher salaries due to holding leadership positions.) This is below the 2014 median income of a Washington State household, which is $61,366.

“We, the people of Washington, are paying our lawmakers a part time salary while expecting them to do full-time work,” Villeneuve said.

“The Legislature may not be in session year-round, but being a well-informed lawmaker is nevertheless a full-time job. There is no ‘off season’ for lawmakers. When one session ends, the preparation for the next session begins. Lawmakers meet with constituents, conduct research, attend committee days, participate in work sessions, and go on fact finding trips during the months they aren’t in session.”

“These salary increases are overdue and entirely justified,” said Villeneuve. “For 2019, the Commission is proposing a base increase in legislator pay to $53,024, to be followed by another increase in 2020 to $57,425. These are good first steps, but we should be increasing legislator pay to an even greater extent to encourage more Washingtonians to consider running for office. Right now, legislative service simply isn’t a realistic option for many people because it doesn’t pay enough to raise a family on.”

“I believe we would get a Legislature that looks more like our diverse state if we provided a more appropriate level of compensation for our legislators. If red state Alaska can afford to pay their legislators a higher salary — and they do — then we certainly can, too.”

In the event Eyman or anyone else is serious about mounting a referendum campaign to overturn the Commission’s salary adjustments, which are entirely reasonable, NPI will work with other organizations to develop a campaign to educate the public about the need for appropriately-compensated elected officials.

FURTHER READING: How Much Should State Legislators Get Paid? by Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux for FiveThirtyEight

Washington State Democratic Party takes position opposing Eyman’s I-976

EndorsementsFrom the Campaign TrailThreat Analysis

Good news: The Washington State Democratic Party has formally declared its opposition to Tim Eyman’s latest attempt to wipe out transit funding at the state, regional, and local level. The party yesterday went on record against I-976 at its autumn meeting in Spokane.

The motion unanimously adopted by the party’s governing central committee — which consists principally of two individuals from each county and two individuals from each legislative district in the state — reads as follows:

RESOLVED: That the Washington State Democratic Party take a position opposing Tim Eyman’s I-976, an initiative to the Legislature for 2019, which seeks to wipe out funding for Amtrak Cascades and Sound Transit 3 plus transit service and multimodal projects at the city level, and urges all Washingtonians to decline to sign if approached by a petitioner.

I-976 is Eyman’s fourth attempt in three years to gut voter-approved transit projects he’s obsessed with destroying, chiefly Sound Transit’s Link light rail expansion. However, Eyman’s I-976 wouldn’t just hurt Sound Transit. It would also rip away funding for sidewalks, road improvements, and bus service at the city level. The state’s largest cities (Seattle, Spokane, and Tacoma) all utilize vehicle fees for transportation improvements within their boundaries, and so do small cities like East Wenatchee and Clarkston.

Eyman has until January 4th, 2019 to collect and turn in signatures for the measure. NPI expects it to qualify and is working to ensure that it goes down to defeat should it appear before voters in October/November of 2019.

Tim Eyman fails to qualify an initiative to the ballot for the third consecutive year

Statements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis

This Friday, July 6th, is the deadline to submit signatures for initiatives to the people for 2018. For the third consecutive year, Tim Eyman won’t have any petitions to turn in, which means that Washingtonians will again be spared in November from having to vote on another destructive scheme cooked up by the lawbreaking initiative promoter.

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Western students sound the alarm about I-976 in guest editorial

From the Campaign TrailThreat Analysis

If you’re approached by a petitioner hawking Tim Eyman’s I-976, decline to sign!

NPI’s Permanent Defense has been sounding the alarm over Eyman’s latest attempt to wipe out transit funding for several weeks now. Today, we got a boost from Western students Giovanna Orecchio, Anna Kemper and Rosa Rice-Pelepko, who wrote a guest editorial echoing that call to action for the Associated Students Review:

I-976 is the brainchild of conservative anti-tax activist Tim Eyman. Eyman makes his living off filing ballot initiatives, and is hardly the guy from whom we should take public policy advice. This year, he’s decided to gut the prime source of funding for the biggest public infrastructure project in the state: light rail.

Sound Transit 3 (light rail) gets most of its funding from car tab fees which are calculated based on the value of your car. If you drive a fancy new Mercedes, you pay more. If you drive a 2003 used Honda Civic, you pay less. All in all, it’s a decently equitable system. Instead, I-976 would make everyone pay a regressive flat fee of $30.

At the end of the day, I-976 will cut car tab fees for people with fancy cars and slash funding for our light rail expansion. That’s not fair, not smart, and not what we voted for. We encourage you to stand up for jobs, mass transit, and the will of the voters: don’t sign I-976!

A big thanks to Giovanna, Anna, and Rosa. We appreciate your efforts to educate your fellow Washingtonians about the grave threat this initiative represents to our communities. It is important to note that I-976 would also destroy funding for Amtrak Cascades, local bus service, and transportation projects at the city level in dozens of cities across the state.

We’re ready to go to bat again to stop Tim Eyman’s I-976 and defend our voter-approved transit projects

Statements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis

The freedom to travel light is a beautiful thing

Freedom of mobility — the freedom to travel light — is a beautiful thing.

More people need that freedom.

But if Tim Eyman succeeds with his fourth attempt in three years to eviscerate funding for Sound Transit, Amtrak Cascades, Metro bus service, and local transportation benefit districts around Washington State, sorely needed efforts to make freedom of mobility a reality for millions of Washingtonians a reality will be gravely harmed.

That’s why we’re springing into action to defeat Tim Eyman’s I-976, which Eyman filed last month and claimed he has money to pursue today. In the coming weeks, we will do everything we can to mobilize a coalition to successfully defend the multimodal transportation investments we’ve committed to.

For over sixteen years, Permanent Defense has worked in partnership with like-minded Washingtonians to safeguard the future of transit. That work continues in 2018.

When PD started in 2002, Washington’s largest urban center barely had any rail transit. Today, we have the Tacoma Link Streetcar, two Seattle Streetcar lines, a Sounder North commuter line, an expanded Sounder South commuter line reaching all the way to Lakewood, and a growing Link light rail spine consisting of sixteen stations, with three more due in 2021 and over a dozen due in 2023. In many communities, we also have expanded bus service, more bike lanes and bike paths, and additional sidewalks.

Washington State as a whole, meanwhile, has expanded Amtrak Cascades and given cities and counties tools for funding the transit and local road improvements they need… tools like transportation benefit districts, or TBDs.

All of these investments are now threatened by Tim Eyman and whichever wealthy benefactor has been so foolish as to give Eyman half a million dollars to do I-976.

This threat deserves to be met with immediate, vigorous opposition — and it will be.

To all Washingtonians who understand that a people-oriented transportation system can’t just be about more pavement for more cars, we invite you to join us.

How can you help? For starters, make a donation to Permanent Defense PAC, or sign up to receive NO on I-976 updates from Permanent Defense. By getting involved, you can be a part of protecting freedom of mobility in Washington State.

Don’t get scammed! Washingtonians, shun Tim Eyman’s I-977

Rethinking and ReframingStatements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis

Well, that didn’t take long.

After failing to interest his wealthy benefactors in a proposal to force a vote on the idea of banning taxes on wealth — and after failing to convince Cooke Aquaculture to give him money to run a referendum campaign to force a vote on the state’s new law phasing out the farming of invasive fish — disgraced initiative promoter Tim Eyman has a new con.

Eyman revealed in an email this morning that he’s picked a new scheme to hawk that he hopes will return his initiative factory to relevance in 2019: Initiative 977, a measure that would apply the Public Records Act (as currently written) to the state Legislature.

Back in December, Eyman told KOMO 4 News and NPI that his initiative for 2018 would be a ban on capital gains taxes and income taxes.

But as we said at the time, that initiative was dead on arrival unless Eyman found wealthy benefactors to pony up the money to finance a signature drive. He didn’t, and has now given up any pretense of qualifying that scheme to the November 2018 ballot.

More recently, Eyman tried to interest Cooke Aquaculture in giving him money to front a referendum campaign that would have subject State Representative Kris Lytton’s bill phasing out the farming of invasive fish to a public vote. But Cooke’s Joel Richardson made it clear that’s not going to happen, telling The Undercurrent and The Seattle Times the company had no interest in being associated with Eyman — to Eyman’s deep disgust.

Having failed to get either of those schemes off the ground for 2018, Eyman appears to have thrown in the towel on making the November ballot this annum, which would mean that for the third consecutive year, Washingtonians will not see any initiative on their general election ballots with Eyman’s name on it. That has not happened since the 1990s.

Instead, Eyman is trying for 2019 with Initiative 977, an initiative to the Legislature. Eyman is apparently hoping that he can rebound with a measure that will appeal to a wider spectrum of Washingtonians than his usual destructive tax-cutting and tax-limiting schemes, which he has had no success trying to get on the ballot the last few years.

But no one should be fooled. Tim Eyman is not doing I-977 because he believes in the cause of open government. He’s doing it because he’s desperate to regain relevance, and he’s willing to latch on to any cause that might attract volunteer signature gatherers.

“I-977 is a scam that all Washingtonians should steer clear of,” said Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve, who has over sixteen years of experience organizing opposition to Tim Eyman initiatives. “Nothing good can come from working with Tim Eyman, no matter how noble the cause may seem.”

“Tim has proved, repeatedly, that he is unworthy of anyone’s trust. He lies with impunity to the press, the public, and his own supporters on a regular basis. He has taken money given to him for one initiative and secretly used it on another. He has steered money he said would be used on initiative campaigns into his own pockets for his personal use. And he has refused to cooperate when the authorities showed up to investigate.”

“Eyman’s I-977 petition design contains a headline that screams ‘What are they hiding?’ We could ask the same question about his initiative factory. What’s he hiding?”

“For years, Eyman has tried to obstruct the State’s investigation into his lawbreaking by withholding documents and records sought by the State to establish the truth as to what really happened. This pattern of obstruction continued even after the State filed four actions against Eyman in Superior Court following investigations by the PDC and the AG’s office, and it has now resulted in Eyman and his associates being held in contempt of court by Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon.”

“Fortunately, Washington already has organizations like the Washington Coalition for Open Government (WCOG) and the Allied Daily Newspapers of Washington working on the cause of open, more transparent government,” Villeneuve noted.

“Tim Eyman is about the least qualified person in our state to helm an initiative that aims to make government more transparent.”

“Before and during the 2019 session, there will be opportunities for media, lawmakers, and activists alike to meet and propose ideas for making the Legislature’s business more transparent. That process, not Eyman’s I-977, is the way forward,” Villeneuve said.

So much for “sticking it to Sound Transit”: Tim Eyman appears ready to abandon I-947, says he’ll push for ban on taxing wealth

Rethinking and ReframingStatements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis

Tim Eyman signaled today that he’s ready to abandon his current initiative to defund Sound Transit and pivot to hawking a new scheme that would prohibit Washington from taxing wealth, thereby keeping the state’s tax code permanently upside down.

Keep reading

Right wing blocked once again from hijacking the local initiative power to attack immigrants

In the CourtsStatements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis

Today, King County Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Berns issued a preliminary injunction blocking a malicious right wing initiative from the November 2017 ballot in Burien which sought to overturn a city ordinance that prohibits police and city employees from asking about a person’s immigration status or religious affiliation.

The initiative, spearheaded by a right wing group calling itself “Respect Washington”, which gathered enough signatures to force its repeal scheme before the city council of Burien. Given the choice of approving the initiative or sending it to voters, the council opted to refer it to the ballot. But now the mean-spirited measure has been stopped in its tracks thanks to a timely ruling from Judge Berns. King County Elections is now in the process of preparing new ballots for Burien voters that do not include the initiative.

“Respect Washington” had tried to get a similar measure on the ballot in Spokane, only to be thwarted last month. The group’s loss in court today is its second such defeat.

Prior to targeting local jurisdictions like Spokane and Burien, “Respect Washington” had attempted for several years in a row to qualify an anti-immigrant scheme to the statewide ballot, but each effort by the group to mount a statewide signature drive ended in failure.

Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve praised Berns’ decision, noting that “Respect Washington” ironically failed to respect the limits of the local initiative power, which are spelled out in state law.

“For years, Washington’s right wing has repeatedly sought to undermine the representative government our founders gave us by hijacking the initiative process to force public votes on schemes intended to defund our public services and destroy protections for working families, the LGBTQ+ community, and immigrants,” said Villeneuve. “But progressives have been fighting back at both the state and local level to uphold Washington values, our Constitution, and our laws. And we’re winning.”

“For the second year in a row, there are no right wing measures on our statewide ballot, and efforts to attack immigrants have been blocked in Spokane as well as Burien.”

“The team at NPI extends our most profound thanks to Burien Communities for Inclusion and their attorneys at Schwerin Campbell Barnard Iglitzin & Lavitt LLP for successfully challenging this mean-spirited measure. While their lawsuit isn’t over, it’s good to know that this initiative will not be appearing on the ballot in Burien this November.”

Tim Eyman continues to blatantly flout Washington’s public disclosure laws with I-947

From the Campaign TrailStatements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis

During the past twelve months, the State of Washington filed not one, not two, not three, but four lawsuits against Tim Eyman and his associates alleging serious violations of our public disclosure laws, acting on complaints filed by organizations like Washingtonians For Ethical Government and Keep Washington Rolling.

Yet, Eyman and his crew continue to brazenly violate RCW Chapter 42.17A with impunity, acting as though the law simply doesn’t apply to them.

Last month, Eyman launched a new effort to “stick it to Sound Transit” (Initiative 947) which he has been regularly promoting on talk radio with the help of KVI’s John Carlson and KIRO’s Dori Monson. I-947 is essentially a redux of two initiatives that Eyman tried to get on the ballot last year (I-1421 and I-869) but which everyone seems to have forgotten about — probably because neither got off the ground.

Eyman is hoping I-947 will be different.

Although he still doesn’t appear to have commitments from any wealthy benefactors to hire paid petitioners, Eyman is gamely trying to run a signature drive anyway, relying on volunteer assistance. In addition to receiving free publicity from Carlson and Monson (who, like Eyman, loathe Sound Transit), Eyman is also getting help from the Washington State Republican Party and its locals. Republican Party organizations have been seen hawking petitions for I-947 at public events like The Evergreeen State Fair in Monroe.

The I-947 campaign began many weeks ago, but Eyman and his associates have yet to properly register their campaign with the Public Disclosure Commission as the law requires. Journalists: you can see this for yourself by doing the following:

  • Go to www.pdc.wa.gov, navigate to View Reports, and run an Advanced Search for the ballot number “947”. Nothing will turn up.
  • Browse to the latest filings for Voters Want More Choices, the committee Eyman is collecting I-947 donations through according to his website. You won’t see an updated C1-PC among them.
  • The last C1-PC filed by Voters Want More Choices dates back to February, when Eyman was trying to qualify an initiative to cut property taxes. This is it. (It wasn’t correctly filled out, so Voters Want More Choices is listed under Continuing Committees as opposed to Initiatives — 2017.)
No Documents Found for Ballot Measure "947"
No Documents Found for Ballot Measure “947”

In its instructions to campaigns, the PDC is clear: File a C1-PC “within two weeks of when the committee is organized or within two weeks of when the committee first expects to receive contributions or make expenditures, whichever is earlier.”

Many weeks have elapsed since Eyman first expected to receive contributions or make expenditures for I-947, but he hasn’t registered the campaign with the PDC. At the end of last month, Washingtonians For Ethical Government notified the Attorney General and King County Prosecuting Attorney that it will bring a lawsuit against Tim Eyman and his associates for failing to file if they choose not to. A month has gone by since that notice was sent, but Eyman’s crew hasn’t filed their C1-PC.

There’s more. NPI and WFEG have reason to believe Eyman has failed to report all of his campaign-related expenditures.

On August 9th, Eyman’s treasurer Barbara Smith filed monthly reports for Voters Want More Choices, including a C4 and C3s. The C4 states that Eyman spent $328.19 on petition printing from Adpro Litho, on July 24th, 2017. That’s the only expense for petition printing listed for July. Here are the others reported expenses and vendor names:

Report DATABAR 7/25/2017 $4,232.62 EDGEWOOD WA 98371 POSTAGE AND MAILING
Report ADPRO LITHO INC 7/24/2017 $328.19 MUKILTEO WA 98275 PRINTING OF PETITION SHEETS
Report FAGAN JANET 7/24/2017 $270.00 SPOKANE WA 99207 DATA ENTRY
Report VERIZON 7/21/2017 $292.36 ACWORTH GA 30101 TELEPHONE CHARGES
Report DATABAR 7/21/2017 $50.05 EDGEWOOD WA 98371 POSTAGE AND MAILING
Report E INNOVATIONS NETWORKING 7/21/2017 $29.92 SPOKANE WA 99220 MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR ON COMPUTER
Report PAY PAL 7/19/2017 $84.54 SAN JOSE CA 95131 PAY PAL CHARGES
Report DASE BARBARA 7/13/2017 $75.00 SEATAC WA 98168 TYPESETTING
Report RUNTIME 7/10/2017 $100.00 MEAD WA 99021 WEBMASTER
Report EMPS 7/3/2017 $45.45 HAGERSTOWN MD 21740 CREDIT CARD CHARGES

Evidence suggests Tim Eyman has spent a lot more than $328.19 on petition printing for Initiative 947. Last month, Eyman sent out a flurry of emails in which he urged his supporters to contact him to participate in the I-947 signature drive.

In one such email, dated July 26th, 2017, Eyman wrote:

Send me an email and let me know how many petitions you want, your address, and your phone number. I will find an Office Depot, Staples, or Kinko’s near you, order the petitions for you, and all you need to do is pick them [up]. It is a petition distribution revolution that nearly 100 supporters have done already. 

Emphasis is ours. Aside from the payment to Adpro Litho, there are no other itemized expenses for petition printing for the month of July 2017, and Voters Want More Choices listed no expenses of fifty dollars or less either.

If Eyman is printing up petitions for followers through office supply stores, and if more than a hundred people have taken him up on this offer, where are those expenditures, and why aren’t they being reported? Eyman’s offer implies that he will pay for the petitions (“all you need to do is pick them up”) and says more than a hundred people have done it.

Even in the event Eyman’s not paying, the expenses still need to be reported as in-kind expenditures. The law requires it; free or reduced cost printing is explicitly listed by the PDC as a type of expenditure that needs to be disclosed. But Voters Want More Choices hasn’t reported a single in-kind expenditure for 2017.

“The whole point of requiring campaigns to register and to report their contributions and expenditures in a timely fashion is so the people can see who is trying to influence their vote… or get their signature,” said Northwest Progressive Institute founder and Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve, who has been organizing opposition to Tim Eyman’s initiative factory for over fifteen years.

“Tim Eyman is deliberately obscuring the activities of his I-947 campaign from the public. He has been active in politics for over twenty years; he can’t claim he’s ignorant of the law. He is choosing not to comply with the reporting requirements, while at the same time pathetically whining about being the victim of a ‘witch hunt’ by Attorney General Bob Ferguson. The truth is, Eyman’s legal woes are self-inflicted. He brought the litigation he’s presently facing on himself. And he can expect more liability in the future if he continues his ugly, stinky, and disgusting behavior.”

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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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