Tag Archives: I-1366

PDC votes to refer case against Tim Eyman to Attorney General Bob Ferguson

Eye on Money: DevelopmentsStatements & Advisories

This morning in Olympia, after hearing staff summarize their findings in Case 13-027 (Protect Your Right To Vote On Initiatives and Tim Eyman) and Case 15-078 (Voters Want More Choices and Tim Eyman), the five-member Public Disclosure Commission voted unanimously to refer the matter to Attorney General Bob Ferguson for prosecution, owing to the seriousness of the violations.

Northwest Progressive Institute founder and executive director Andrew Villeneuve, who has been organizing opposition to Eyman’s initiatives for over thirteen and a half years, applauded the PDC’s action and urged the Attorney General to swiftly follow up by initiating legal proceedings against Eyman.

“Today, our Public Disclosure Commission took a crucial, important vote to hold Tim Eyman accountable for his outrageous abuse of our state’s initiative process and repeated, deliberate violations of our cherished public disclosure law,” Villeneuve said.

“As Commissioner Anne Levinson said, the violations alleged in these cases are extremely troubling. The Commission’s statutory authority is simply inadequate to ensure that the punishment fits the crime. We applaud the PDC for referring this grave matter to Attorney General Bob Ferguson with an explicit request to broaden the scope of the state’s investigation to past and present periods.

“Tim Eyman needs to be held accountable for his wrongdoing as well as his stonewalling, which impeded PDC staff from finishing their investigation in time for the 2013 general election two years ago, when I-517 appeared on the ballot. ”

As PDC staff noted in their report, it appears that Eyman has been receiving kickbacks from his associates Citizen Solutions for over a decade, profiting from his own signature drives without disclosing that to the people of Washington State.

In the words of PDC staff:

Finally, staff found evidence that the undisclosed $308,185 payment Mr. Eyman received from Citizen Solutions on July 11, 2012 may have been one in a series of such payments. Staff obtained sworn testimony from Edward Agazarm, a former principal of Citizen Solutions, Incorporated, that on multiple occasions between 2004 and 2011, after paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in committee funds to Citizen Solutions to qualify his initiatives for the ballot, Mr. Eyman then sought and received payments back from the firm ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 per campaign. Mr. Agazarm testified that these payments compensated Mr. Eyman for services he rendered to Citizen Solutions, Incorporated. He stated that among other services, Mr. Eyman was compensated for bringing business to the signature gathering firm, including the business generated by Mr. Eyman’ s own initiative committees.

“For too long, Tim Eyman has operated as though he were above the law, without regard for the consequences,” Villeneuve said.

“Even today, as the Public Disclosure Commission was listening to staff present the allegations against Tim, he was shamelessly sending out yet another email shaking his electronic tin cup. He never quits hitting his followers up for money.”

“The state has repeatedly fined Eyman before for violating our public disclosure law, and even reached an agreement with him that he never again serve as a campaign treasurer, but he has continued to manipulate money himself for electoral purposes using a shell company that he controls, as PDC staff have documented.”

“Tim Eyman’s wealthy benefactors may not be bothered by his run-ins with the law, but we as a people can no longer tolerate his abusive behavior and destructive schemes to wreck our government.”

“It is our fervent hope that the Attorney General will prosecute this case to the fullest extent of the law, and win a conviction. As the Spokesman-Review has editorialized, ‘If Eyman is found guilty of these charges, he should forever be banished from initiative campaigns.'”

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.”

AARP Washington State, OneAmerica Votes join coalition fighting I-1366

EndorsementsFrom the Campaign Trail

As of today, we are just two months away from the November 2015 general election. While we remain hopeful that the Washington State Supreme Court will spare us all the time and expense of having to vote on Tim Eyman’s incredibly destructive I-1366, which is well beyond the scope of the people’s initiative power, we continue to make preparations to fight I-1366 in the event the Court does not invalidate it.

The team at NPI and the staff of the NO on I-1366 campaign continue to reach out to potential partners (as we have throughout the summer), and we’re pleased to report our efforts are meeting with success. This week, we’re delighted to welcome AARP Washington State and OneAmerica Votes to the NO on I-1366 coalition.

They join an increasingly long list of organizations and individuals committed to protecting Washington from the devastating short-term harm that would be caused by the loss of $8 billion in sales tax revenue over six years (Scenario 1 of I-1366) or the extremely damaging long-term harm caused by sabotaging our Constitution to allow a submajority of seventeen senators or thirty-three representatives to veto any attempt to raise or recover revenue for our state treasury (Scenario 2 of I-1366).

I-1366 is also opposed by the Washington State Democratic Party, the Mainstream Republicans of Washington State, the League of Women Voters of Washington, the Tri-City Herald, and dozens of other organizations. The evolving list can be viewed at the NO on I-1366 website.

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.”

Eyman’s I-1366 certified for ballot; jeopardizes $8 billion in revenue through 2021

From the Campaign TrailRethinking and ReframingStatements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis

As required by law, the Washington State Office of Financial Management (OFM) has completed a fiscal impact statement for Tim Eyman’s I-1366, which was today certified for the November 2015 statewide ballot by Secretary of State Kim Wyman.

According to OFM’s analysis, I-1366 is an even greater threat to Washington’s future than previously believed. The 13% sales tax cut that I-1366 would impose if legislators don’t submit to Eyman’s demand for a constitutional amendment to sabotage Article II, Section 22 translates to a loss of $1.4 billion a year in 2017, the first year it would fully be in effect. It only gets worse after that.

Through 2021, Washington’s treasury would be deprived of approximately $8 billion in funding for vital public services like schools and universities.

“OFM’s fiscal impact statement for I-1366 confirms what we’ve been saying for months about I-1366: This is the most destructive, mean-spirited initiative that Tim Eyman has ever qualified for the ballot,” said Northwest Progressive Institute founder Andrew Villeneuve. “Eyman doesn’t have the votes in the Legislature to overturn the Supreme Court’s 2013 League of Education Voters decision, so he’s resorted to blackmail. And he’s taking Washington’s young people as his hostages.”

“We can see what’s at risk by looking at the state budget. The sales tax is easily our state’s largest single source of tax revenue, supplying nearly half of the money that goes into the general fund. And more than half of the general fund goes to K-12 schools, colleges, and universities.”

“Education is our single largest responsibility as a people. And, in the words of our Constitution, it is also our paramount duty. We are obligated, as a society, to make ample provision for the education of Washington’s youth.”

“”The Supreme Court has determined we have not been meeting this obligation and ordered our legislators to act. The slight progress the House and Senate have made to date towards complying with the Court’s McCleary orders is jeopardized by I-1366. Legislators just agreed on a bipartisan basis to put more money into schools and lower tuition. That carefully crafted agreement will be undone in the span of a few months if I-1366’s first scenario comes to pass,” Villeneuve said.

“And under other I-1366’s second scenario, our regressive tax code would be locked into place permanently. As few as seventeen senators – twelve percent of our entire Legislature – could kill any attempt to raise or recover revenue for our state treasury. Our founders strongly believed that decisions like these should be made by the many, not a few. We should honor and uphold the Constitution they gave us by rejecting I-1366.”

OFM’s analysis also determined that funding for implementation of I-900, Tim Eyman’s performance audits initiative from ten years ago, would be cut by Scenario 1 of I-1366. I-900 stipulated that a percentage of state sales tax revenue be dedicated to funding performance audits. Ironically, money for conducting those audits is now at risk along with the other public services that the sales tax funds.

“Tim Eyman has never been concerned with the harmful, messy consequences of his initiatives,” Villeneuve noted. “In his rush to imitate the militant tactics of Ted Cruz and U.S. House Republicans, he thoughtlessly put funding for his own initiative from ten years ago in jeopardy along with funding for education, public safety assistance to local governments, and countless other vital public services.”

“As the old adage goes, Any fool can burn down a barn, but it takes a real carpenter to build one. Tim Eyman has demonstrated he knows how to start fires, but in the span of fifteen years, he has not helped put any out, nor has he contributed to the building of a better Washington. I-1366 represents a new low for his initiative factory.”

Washingtonians have decisively rejected some pretty bad Tim Eyman initiatives in the past, but only when the case to vote no has been effectively made by people and organizations that do care about building a better Washington.

That’s why, since February, the team at NPI has been working to organize and empower Washingtonians from across the political spectrum to fight I-1366.

“We encourage everyone who wants to uphold our Constitution, protect our common wealth, and defend Washington’s values to step up and help us kick the effort to beat I-1366 into high gear,” said Villeneuve. “There’s a lot of work that needs doing between now and when ballots drop. We urge people to get involved in this campaign.”

The growing coalition against I-1366 includes the Washington Association of School Principals, League of Women Voters of Washington, the League of Education Voters, Statewide Poverty Action Network, Washington Environmental Council, Washington State Democratic Party, and many more. An evolving list of organizations opposed to I-1366 is available on the NO on I-1366 website.

Facts about I-1366 that Tim Eyman didn’t bother to mention

Eye on Money: DevelopmentsFrom the Campaign TrailStatements & Advisories

This morning, Tim Eyman sent an email to the press, taking another opportunity to crow about getting signatures submitted for I-1366 and ostensibly provide information pertaining to the initiative. Here are some very important facts he didn’t bother to share:

  • Initiatives cannot be used to change the state Constitution: Eyman has falsely been calling I-1366 a constitutional amendment initiative. There is no such thing. The initiative power can only be used to create, modify, or repeal statutes. Any change to the Constitution must originate in the Legislature (Article XXIII).
  • Loss to the state treasury starting in April 2016 if the Legislature doesn’t capitulate to Eyman’s demand to sabotage Article II, Section 22 (which requires majority vote to pass all bills): About $1 billion per year
  • The essential public services that would be most harmed by a sudden, massive cut in sales tax revenue: Washington’s public K-12 schools, community colleges, and universities
  • Lowest percentage of the Legislature that could block any change to the tax code they didn’t like under Tim Eyman’s desired rules: 12% (seventeen senators out of one hundred and forty-seven total legislators)
  • Most recent addition to the rapidly-growing NO on I-1366 Coalition roster: The Washington Council of Fire Fighters (added today!)
  • Reported cost of Eyman’s I-1366 signature drive so far: $1 million, exactly (source: Public Disclosure Commission data, last updated June 9th)
    • Cost of petitioner labor: Estimated to be $462,625 (assuming average signature cost of $1.17 multiplied by 337,954 submitted signatures, see this post for more details on the methodology)
    • Cost of coordinators: Estimated at $168,977 (assuming an override of fifty cents per signature for 337,954 signatures)
    • That leaves hundreds of thousands of dollars unaccounted for – and Eyman was recently raising funds to make another $100,000 payment for signature gathering. This money isn’t needed to compensate petitioners or coordinators – so where’s it going?
  • Blast from the past: Our Founding Fathers were strongly for majority rule, and we should be listening to them — not Tim Eyman. Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist No. 22:

    If a pertinacious minority can control the opinion of a majority, respecting the best mode of conducting it, the majority, in order that something may be done, must conform to the views of the minority; and thus the sense of the smaller number will overrule that of the greater, and give a tone to the national proceedings. Hence, tedious delays; continual negotiation and intrigue; contemptible compromises of the public good.

More information about the NO on I-1366 coalition is available here.

NO on I-1366 Committee forms; will respond to Tim Eyman’s signature turn-in tomorrow

From the Campaign TrailStatements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis

Efforts to build a broad coalition to stop Tim Eyman’s I-1366 received a major boost today with NPI and Permanent Defense founder Andrew Villeneuve’s announcement of the formation of a statewide campaign committee to oppose the initiative.

I-1366 would slash the state sales tax by about $1 billion a year in April of 2016 if the Legislature fails by that time to adopt a constitutional amendment permanently sabotaging the Constitution’s requirement that bills receive a majority vote.

“Over the last few months, the team at NPI has worked to assemble a broad coalition to stand up for Washington’s kids against the bad politics of blackmail,” said Villeneuve. “Today, we and our partners are shifting our efforts into higher gear with the formation of NO on Tim Eyman’s I-1366, a statewide campaign committee that will ensure our growing coalition is well served by a capable, bipartisan leadership team.”

NO on Tim Eyman’s I-1366 has five initial officers: Villeneuve, former Republican Secretary of State Sam Reed, former Democratic State Senator Randy Gordon, former Democratic State Representative Phyllis Gutiérrez Kenney, and NW Media Allies owner Sue Evans.

Microsoft alum and veteran activist Matt Loschen serves as the committee’s treasurer.

The committee’s C1-PC has been submitted to the Public Disclosure Commission and will soon be available online following processing of the accompanying signature card.

“We are committed to building a campaign that honors and defends the values that Washington was founded upon,” said Villeneuve. “Everyone who believes in upholding majority rule and protecting our state from the destructive politics of hostage taking will be welcome to join our cause, no matter what party they belong to, and no matter what underlying values system they subscribe to.”

“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to work with Matt, Sue, Sam, Phyllis, and Randy on this effort. And I want to thank the many organizations that have already pledged to help defeat I-1366, from the League of Women Voters of Washington and the Statewide Poverty Action Network to the Washington Environmental Council and the Washington State Democratic Party.”

“We are still in the beginning stages of this organizing effort, and we expect to have an even longer roster as we get closer to autumn.”

Tim Eyman has a 3 PM appointment to turn in signatures tomorrow (Thursday), July 2nd, 2015 with the Secretary of State. Following Eyman’s submission of signatures, the committee will outline why it is imperative that voters reject I-1366 and give the media an opportunity to learn more about the coalition’s next steps.

Police report, eyewitness testimony documents harassment of citizens by Eyman petitioners

Rethinking and ReframingStatements & Advisories

With Tim Eyman and his associates said to be winding down the signature drive for I-1366, Eyman’s most destructive initiative yet, NPI’s Permanent Defense has been reviewing anecdotes submitted by citizens and activists regarding their experiences with petitioners during the I-1366 signature drive.

One incident in particular drew our attention, because it illustrates that there have been and continue to be occasions where petitioners have needlessly instigated conflict with citizens by behaving inappropriately.

During the week of April 19th-25th, two petitioners most likely on the payroll of Tim Eyman and his associates selected a Trader Joe’s in Kirkland, Washington, to solicit in front of. Their objective was to intercept shoppers entering and exiting the store and get them to sign Tim Eyman’s I-1366.

Eyewitness Bob Osrowske, a resident of Kirkland who contacted NPI to report his experiences, first saw the petitioners on the afternoon of April 20th, as he was going into Trader Joe’s, around 3:20 PM. He described the older of the pair, later identified by the Kirkland Police as Robert A. Blaska, as “quite aggressive”.

During this initial encounter, Osrowske asked if I-1366 was sponsored by Tim Eyman; he recollected the younger petitioner, later identified by police as Devin M. Fox, responding by asking, “Who’s Tim Eyman?” and claiming it was merely “a conservative initiative”.

Osrowske, who correctly suspected that I-1366 is in fact a Tim Eyman initiative, declined to sign the petition and continued into the store.

Two days later, on Wednesday, April 22nd, Osrowske was again on his way into Trader Joe’s to get groceries, and witnessed Blaska and Fox intercepting shoppers in front of the store for a second time.

“They were the worst-behaved signature gatherers I’ve encountered so far,” Osrowske told NPI. “They’d get in a person’s face to get a signature, or challenge you if you had a different opinion. Courtesy was not a part of their vocabulary.”

When Osrowske came out of the store, at about 1:20 PM, Officers Karp and Miller of the Kirkland Police Department had arrived to confront Blaska and Fox after receiving a 911 call at 12:38 PM from another individual.

The police report obtained by NPI from the City of Kirkland states that the call was precipitated by the presence of “harassing solicitors outside Trader Joe’s” who were “trying to get signatures for lowering taxes”. The subjects were described by the complainant as “rude and forceful”, with one being more aggressive than the other.

Officer Karp’s narrative describes what happened next:

Robert A. Blaska (born 82) refused to move his petition table from obscuring the exit and wheelchair ramp at Trader Joe’s. We also had several complaints of him cursing at patrons. He was trespassed for one year and his partner Devin M. Fox (born 92) remained.

The incident was subsequently logged by the Kirkland Police Department as #2015-00016270.

Unfortunately, the kind of harassment that Bob Osrowske and other Trader Joe’s shoppers had to put up with that week last April is not uncommon.

Grocers and other retailers have documented many instances where petitioners have blocked store entrances and gotten in the faces of patrons. In some of these instances, the police have been summoned, as they were in Kirkland on April 22nd, because the petitioners refused to behave respectfully.

A panel organized by the Washington Food Industry Association and the Northwest Grocery Association spoke to the Senate Government Operations & Security Committee about problem petitioners at a now-infamous hearing on SB 5375 on February 5th, which was abruptly ended by committee chair Pam Roach following an exchange between vice chair Don Benton and ranking member Marko Liias.

Prior to the committee’s sudden adjournment, Republican and Democratic members of the committee spoke to some of their own experiences with aggressive petitioners during a Q&A with the panel. (The hearing can be watched on demand via TVW).

“Tim Eyman has repeatedly portrayed petitioners as the victims of harassment, but as this incident and others show, there have been many times when petitioners were the perpetrators and citizens the victims,” said NPI founder and executive director Andrew Villeneuve.

“Unfortunately, in Washington, as in many other states, it is legal to pay petitioners by the signature, which means petitioners have an incentive to be aggressive. If they can corner people and get them to sign, they make more money. Plenty of people will sign a petition just to get a confrontational signature gatherer to quit bothering them.”

“It’s definitely time for our state’s executive and legislative branches to act to clean up Washington’s underground petitioning industry. People who are being paid to gather signatures aren’t merely exercising their First Amendment rights — they’re doing a job. Their employers should be following all of our state’s worker protection laws, and ensuring they get training so that they understand how to behave appropriately when they are out collecting.”

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