Tag Archives: I-517

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

In the Courts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.'”

PDC investigation finds Tim Eyman broke Washington’s public disclosure law, again

Eye on Money: DevelopmentsStatements & Advisories

This morning, the staff of the Public Disclosure Commission released the results of the agency’s long-running investigation into Tim Eyman’s I-517, the initiative on initiatives Eyman qualified in 2012, which was overwhelmingly rejected by voters in November of 2013. PDC staff found Eyman and his initiative factory repeatedly violated RCW 42.17A by concealing the source of the I-517 campaign’s funding, and are recommending that the Commission refer the case to Attorney General Bob Ferguson for prosecution.

The investigation, initiated by a complaint filed three years ago by activist Sherry Bockwinkel of Tacoma, stretched on for two and a half years, and was slowed by Tim Eyman’s refusal to fully cooperate and turn over records sought by PDC staff in a timely fashion. State attorneys were ultimately called upon to assist the PDC in enforcing its subpoena power, and last week, Eyman turned over a number of records to the state, resulting in the postponement of the hearings that had been scheduled on the matter in Thurston and Snohomish County Superior Courts.

“We’re very pleased that the PDC has finally finished its investigation into Tim Eyman’s I-517 and has concluded that Tim Eyman must be held accountable for concealing campaign money,” said NPI founder and executive director Andrew Villeneuve, who has been organizing opposition to Eyman initiatives for thirteen and a half years. NPI has been in regular contact with PDC staff about the investigation; in May of 2014, Villeneuve traveled down to Olympia and testified alongside several representatives of Washington’s business community, expressing concern that the investigation was still unresolved.

“The documentation collected by the PDC and published as exhibits to its findings confirms what we have long known to be true: Tim Eyman used contributions made in support of the campaign for his last I-601 clone, I-1185, to qualify I-517, a self-serving initiative intended to make it easier and cheaper for him to qualify future initiatives to the ballot in Washington State,” said Villeneuve. “Tim Eyman deliberately chose to run a stealth campaign in violation of our state’s public disclosure law, deceiving his own donors and withholding information about his activities from the public.”

“At long last, Tim Eman’s misdeeds are catching up to him,” Villeneuve added. “The day of reckoning has come. We emphatically urge the Public Disclosure Commission to adopt the staff’s recommendation that this case be referred to the Attorney General for prosecution. The wrongdoing detailed in these findings is part of a pattern of behavior that stretches back to nearly the beginning of Eyman’s career.”

In February of 2002, Eyman admitted having taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from campaign funds for his own personal use while at the same time lying to the press, the public, and his own followers in claiming that he was working as a volunteer.

“It was the biggest lie of my life” that no donations had made their way into his personal bank account, Eyman told The Associated Press’ Dave Ammons, admitting, “The fact is, it is true that I made money in past campaigns and planned to make money on future campaigns.” Ammons also memorably reported that Eyman told him: “I want to continue to advocate issues and I want to make a lot of money doing it.”

Eyman has certainly profited handsomely from his initiative factory over the years. As PDC staff note in their findings, it appears Eyman has been double-dipping for a long time. He pays himself a salary out of campaign funds (which is disclosed in PDC reports), but then he also gets kickbacks from his buddies Eddie Agazarm and Roy Ruffino, who control the shady signature gathering firm Citizen Solutions.

NPI, along with Civic Ventures’ David Goldstein, has long suspected that Eyman gets a cut of the money that is expensed to pay for his signature drives.

Now we know it’s true.

It’s quite the racket: Eyman raises money from wealthy benefactors on a near-annual basis to fund a signature drive for an ill-conceived scheme to wreck government, telling them he needs over a million dollars to qualify for the ballot, when in reality, he needs less. This ensures that when the drive is completed, there is plenty of money left over for Eyman’s associates to pocket as profit, and to send back to Eyman for his personal use… or, in the case of the I-1185 campaign, to qualify a second initiative (I-517) with a stealth signature drive.

Eyman profits whether his initiatives win or lose (and nearly all of them have either been rejected by voters, failed to qualify, or been struck down by the courts).

The case numbers in this matter are 13-027 and 15-078. The Public Disclosure Commission will take up both at its meeting this Thursday, September 24th, at 9:30 AM in 711 Capital Way, Room 206 in Olympia. NPI will be there and is happy to make representatives from its staff, board, and advisory council available to the press to take questions and comment about the cases.

Twelve Years: Statement from the Founder

Statements & AdvisoriesThreat Analysis

Today and throughout this month, Permanent Defense celebrates its twelfth anniversary, marking one hundred and forty-four months of continuous operation. Since February 15th, 2002, PD has served as a critical first line of defense against threats to the commonwealth and the Constitution of Washington State, fighting destructive right wing ballot measures and opposing Tim Eyman’s initiative factory.

Permanent Defense: Twelve YearsPD is also the Northwest Progressive Institute’s oldest project; it became part of the Northwest Progressive Institute when NPI was founded on August 22nd, 2003.

Much has changed in the twelve years since Permanent Defense was launched, in both politics and technology. Permanent Defense happens to be older than the publishing platform it currently runs on (WordPress), older than much of the political blogosphere (including Daily Kos, the Huffington Post, and Politico), and, as mentioned, older than its own parent organization (NPI).

But one thing has not changed: the commitment to ensuring that harmful right wing ballots get the immediate opposition they deserve. That is what Permanent Defense does and does well. For twelve years, PD has worked to protect Washington. Prior to PD’s founding, Tim Eyman was winning at the ballot every year, though his first three successful initiatives were all later overturned by the Supreme Court.

Since PD was founded, however, Eyman has had no consecutive victories at the ballot. This was true two years ago when Permanent Defense celebrated its tenth anniversary, and it remains true today.

While our state and our region remain in need of a progressive movement that can go on offense, Washington’s common wealth and Constitution cannot be left undefended.

That is why Permanent Defense’s work is so important. Campaigns and coalitions come and go, but Permanent Defense is always there. Its resilience stems from its relentlessness; it is a project that lives up to its name.

I am very pleased to report that Permanent Defense’s twelfth year was one of its greatest yet, accentuated by two great victories for our Constitution and our commonwealth: one in court, and one in the court of public opinion.

Early on in the year, the Washington State Supreme Court finally ruled that the undemocratic provision at the heart of Eyman’s I-601 clones… as well as I-601 itself… was unconstitutional. As a consequence, majority rule was restored to our statehouse, and revenue can now be raised by majority vote, like our founders intended.

After having avoided the justiciable controversy in past cases, the Court finally made it unequivocally clear in League of Education Voters v. State of Washington that the words “majority vote” in Article II, Section 22 mean a majority… greater than fifty percent. No more and no less. The ruling is not even a year old yet, but already it ranks as one of the Court’s best and most important decisions.

Later in the year, Permanent Defense worked closely with many other organizations, including some that had supported Eyman’s I-601 clones, to build a strong and diverse coalition to oppose Initiative 517. The goal of Eyman’s I-517 was to make it cheaper and easier for Eyman to qualify initiatives to the ballot, so he could make his initiative factory more lucrative and profitable.

When we first started working against I-517, we were told by many people that it would be difficult to win. But we proved the skeptics wrong on Election Night when the initial results showed I-517 losing, and losing big.

The magnitude of the victory only increased in the days that followed, and within a week, I-517 had become Tim Eyman’s biggest defeat ever, percentage-wise. In the end, the coalition against I-517 claimed 62.71% of the vote. It was the only campaign that received more than a million votes in the election.

Although our electoral focus was on defeating I-517, we also worked to help Washingtonians understand that the five “advisory votes” on their 2013 ballot were really push polls required by Tim Eyman’s I-960. Our efforts to help educate voters paid off. Even though the wording of the questions strongly encouraged voters to vote “Repealed”, a majority of Washingtonians nevertheless defied Eyman and chose to vote “Maintained” instead on three of the five push polls.

While we take great pride in these successes, we know there is more work to do. Tim Eyman hasn’t called it quits. In fact, he remains as obsessed as ever with making his two-thirds to raise revenue scheme the law of the land.

Since our founders very wisely did not make it possible to amend the Constitution by ballot initiative, Eyman is hawking a Ted Cruz-style measure that would repeal $1 billion in funding for our public schools each year unless the Legislature approves a constitutional amendment to make Eyman’s two-thirds scheme permanent.

Eyman is essentially attempting to blackmail lawmakers by taking our schools hostage. It is outrageous and we will not stand for it. With your help, we will ensure that Eyman’s I-1325 receives the fierce opposition it deserves.

We know from over a decade of experience fighting right wing initiatives that getting an early start makes a huge difference. Given that Eyman has printed up petitions for I-1325, there can be no doubt that Eyman is serious about getting I-1325 to the ballot.

In the past, Eyman has consistently been able to find a wealthy benefactor to finance his initiative factory when he needed one. We are therefore assuming that I-1325 will be on the ballot. If it doesn’t make it, all well and good, but we can’t afford to wait and hope that Eyman falls short. I-1325 is incredibly destructive and it needs opposition now. We will provide that early opposition and ask other organizations to join us in building a strong coalition to defeat I-1325.  To do that, we need your help.

  • If you are not a member of the Northwest Progressive Institute, we urge you to become one. Members are the backbone of NPI’s supporter community, providing the time, talent, and treasure that makes NPI’s work possible.
  • If you see a petitioner collecting signatures for I-1325, we ask that you report your experience immediately so we can track Eyman’s signature drive.
  • And if you are free on the evening of April 25th, 2014, we encourage you to join us for NPI’s sixth Spring Fundraising Gala, where we will celebrate the victory over I-517 and explain what we’re doing to mobilize opposition to I-1325.

Through perseverance and hard work, we have won many victories over these past twelve years. Tim Eyman may be relentless, but so are we. We don’t give in and we don’t give up, because our Constitution and our commonwealth need safeguarding.

We need this fighting spirit to be contagious. It is no exaggeration to say that our region’s future depends on our efforts.

Here’s to a great thirteenth year for Permanent Defense.

With election results certified, the failure of Tim Eyman’s I-517 sets a new record

Election PostmortemStatements & Advisories

Today, elections officials from Washington State’s thirty-nine counties certified the results of the 2013 general election. The final results show that Tim Eyman’s I-517, one of two statewide initiatives on the ballot, was defeated with 62.71% of the vote, which is the biggest-ever defeat of a Tim Eyman initiative, percentage-wise.

The old record of 61.54% was held by the No on I-892 campaign, which opposed Eyman’s 2004 scheme to put electronic slot machines in every neighborhood of the state and use the increased tax revenue to lower property taxes.

I-892 was overwhelmingly defeated by voters.

Although 2013 was a low turnout election, more than one million Washingtonians voted to reject I-517.

In King County, the no vote climbed above 70% as counting went on, and it nearly reached 72% by the time most ballots had been tabulated. The No campaign, which NPI’s Permanent Defense worked to help organize, won with a majority or supermajority of the vote in all of the state’s key swing counties, including Pierce, Snohomish, Kitsap, Whatcom, Clark, Thurston, and Spokane.

“In overwhelmingly rejecting I-517, the people of Washington have reaffirmed that the purpose of the Seventh Amendment to our state Constitution was to create an initiative process, not an initiative business,” said NPI founder Andrew Villeneuve.

“Proponents of I-517, including Tim Eyman and Eddie Agazarm, claimed during the campaign that I-517 was about making it easier for grassroots groups to get on the ballot. But in reality, they wrote and promoted I-517 to help themselves. They profit from qualifying initiatives, and they were looking to make their business even more lucrative with I-517. Thankfully, they failed.”

Tim Eyman and Eddie Agazarm have each previously admitted that they love making money from initiatives and want to make even more.

  • On February 3rd, 2002, Tim Eyman called up David Ammons of the Associated Press and confessed to having taken more than $150,000 of his own supporters’ donations for his personal use… and then lying about it for months. “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,” Eyman told Ammons. Eyman admitted that going forward, he wanted to be well-paid:  “I want to continue to advocate issues and I want to make a lot of money doing it.”
  • On April 18th, 2012, in an email to petition crew chiefs, Eyman associate Eddie Agazarm addressed complaints that petitioners were not being paid to collect signatures for I-517 by claiming that the inevitable passage of the initiative would make the signature gathering business more lucrative, and that this would be good for the very petition workers he exploits. He wrote:  “Somebody said that they’d have to be asking their people to work I-517 for free. That is definitely not the case as ALL petitioners and ALL managers will get paid very handsomely once I-517 passes. Think of the extra money we ALL make when we can work big turf ALL the time. Think of the money we can ALL make when we have petitioning year round. Think of all the extra petitions we can carry. Oh… we are gonna get paid for sure.”

The Public Disclosure Commission continues to actively investigate a complaint filed by Sherry Bockwinkel in August of 2012 that alleges numerous public disclosure laws were violated by Eyman, Agazarm and their associates during the I-517 signature drive, including failure to timely report contributions and expenditures.

NPI is monitoring the status of the investigation and urging the PDC to thoroughly investigate all of the allegations.

Statement on the defeat of Initiative 517

Election PostmortemStatements & Advisories

Initial returns from Washington’s thirty-nine counties this evening indicate that Tim Eyman’s Initiative 517 is headed down to a big defeat. NPI founder and NO on I-517 steering committee member Andrew Villeneuve thanked the people of Washington for overwhelmingly rejecting I-517, which would have made it easier for Eyman and his associates to manipulate our state’s initiative process and profit from it.

“Congratulations to the people of Washington for having the good sense and wisdom to reject Tim Eyman’s self-serving I-517,” said NPI founder and NO on I-517 steering committee member Andrew Villeneuve. “Over the past few weeks, we’ve worked hard to help voters understand that I-517 would have infringed upon our constitutionally guaranteed free speech rights and property rights, giving petitioners special privileges that no one else would have. We’re thankful that our efforts were successful. The rejection of I-517 is a victory for the initiative process over the initiative business.”

I-517 was opposed by a broad and diverse coalition that included progressive organizations like NPI, retailers like Safeway, Fred Meyer, REI, Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Walmart, as well as labor unions like the Carpenters and the Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific and sports teams like the Seattle Seahawks and the Seattle Sounders. Opposition was also bipartisan: Former gubernatorial rivals Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna each took a stand opposing I-517, as did the Washington State Democratic Party, the Mainstream Republicans of Washington State, former State Auditor Brian Sonntag, and former Secretaries of State Sam Reed and Ralph Munro.

The Yes on I-517 campaign remains under investigation by the Public Disclosure Commission for violating Washington State’s public disclosure laws during its signature gathering stage. The PDC acknowledged last month the investigation would not be completed ahead of the election.

NPI will be monitoring the status of the investigation in the weeks to come.

“Ending abuse of our state’s initiative and referendum process is a priority for us,” Villeneuve said. “We’re strong believers in the initiative and referendum and we want to return these instruments of direct democracy to their roots. It should be easier for grassroots activists to put together an initiative campaign, and harder for powerful interests to simply arrange a vote so they can purchase laws favorable to them.”

“In 2014 and beyond, we will working to end the exploitation of petition workers by outfits like Citizen Solutions that profit from qualifying initiatives while failing to comply with our worker protection laws,” Villeneuve added.

“We will also urge the Legislature to put a stop to the practice of ballot title shopping and require that petitions be more transparently laid out, so people have a clearer understanding of what they are being asked to sign.”

Washington Realtors says it “strongly opposes” I-517

EndorsementsFrom the Campaign Trail

Another one of the trade associations that backed Tim Eyman’s I-1185 last year has decided to take a formal position against I-517, Eyman’s initiative on initiatives, which he and his associates at “Citizen Solutions” qualified for the ballot by piggybacking on the I-1185 signature drive last year. (We believe this piggybacking occurred in violation of Washington State’s public disclosure laws).

The Washington Realtors announced earlier today that its legislative steering committee has finished studying Eyman’s I-517 and overwhelmingly concluded it was poorly written and infringed on property rights. They have chosen to take a position against the measure, urging a no vote. From their press release (PDF):

“While we respect the initiative process, as an organization that champions private property rights as well as the health and recovery of small businesses we have major concerns with I-517,” said Michael Schoonover, a commercial real estate broker and the 2013 vice president government affairs for the Washington Realtors. “I-517 would impede and interfere with both.”

The Washington Realtors’ legislative steering committee, the 25 member group appointed to determine the organization’s policy positions based on their impact on the real estate industry, reviewed the provisions of I-517 and overwhelmingly voted to oppose the measure on behalf of its more than 15,000 members.

“I-517 does not allow business owners to restrict or inhibit in any way signature gathering at the entrance and exits of their shops, an activity that often irritates the public who do not want to engage in any given political debate,” says Schoonover.

“Many of our members have storefront offices and, like so many other small businesses, work hard to attract clients and customer through their doors. It is their rights at stake here.”

Last year, the Washington Realtors donated a total of $50,000 to the Association of Washington Business’ political action committee; most of that money was then sent to Eyman’s associates Roy Ruffino and Eddie Agazarm at Citizen Solutions to cover the cost of the I-1185 signature drive.( The AWB activated its PAC last year principally for the purpose of helping raise money for I-1185).

By the time summer weather had set in, AWB and its members, along with other business trade associations like the Realtors and the Restaurant Association, had written checks in excess of a million dollars to Eyman’s PAC or directly to Citizen Solutions for signature gathering. Approximately $1.2 million of the $1.4 million raised ultimately went to Citizen Solutions.

But they were duped by Eyman, Ruffino, and Agazarm. The true cost of the I-1185 signature drive was only a fraction of this amount.

We know from talking to petitioners that they were being paid one dollar a signature, and the Secretary of State recorded 320,003 signatures as having been submitted. That means the signature drive could not have cost much more than $320,000.

Even if there were, say, $100,000 in additional or miscellaneous expenses, that still leaves more than three quarters of a million dollars unaccounted for. Where’d it go? We can only assume into the pockets of Eyman and his associates,who also ripped off their own workers. (They told petitioners they needed to collect for both I-517 and I-1185 at the same time or they’d be fired… and they were expected to collect I-517 signatures without any compensation).

This arrangement was documented in the Public Disclosure Commission complaint filed by Sherry Bockwinkel last year. The investigation remains open and ongoing; the PDC says it won’t be finished until after the election is over.

We’re glad to see that the Realtors have joined the diverse and bipartisan coalition working to defeat I-517. I-517 is Tim Eyman’s most self-serving initiative yet. It was conceived to make getting signatures cheaper and easier so that Eyman & Co. could make more money. NPI’s Permanent Defense strongly urges a no vote on I-517.

Wenatchee World urges a no vote on 517: “A legal pedestal for signature gatherers is neither necessary nor egalitarian”

EndorsementsFrom the Campaign Trail

Yet another major Washington State newspaper has come out against Tim Eyman’s Initiative 517. In an editorial published earlier today, the Wenatchee World offered a cogent analysis of I-517, dissecting proponents’ arguments and rejecting them as unsound. As publisher Rufus King and his editorial board noted, I-517 is really about giving petitioners special rights that nobody else would have.

The collectors of initiative signatures have a right to petition the government, they have a right to free speech, but that just makes them like everybody else. It does not make them a class of the anointed, separated by privilege. Exercising their right does not give them powers and protections beyond those of ordinary citizens. It does not give them the right to violate the rights of others. It does not make them a protected class.

The Bill of Rights grants every American the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances, while state law stipulates that harassment of anyone is illegal. Tim Eyman, Eddie Agazarm, Paul Jacob and Mark Baerwaldt know this, but they want to make the initiative business easier and cheaper.

Every provision in I-517 was written to make pursuing initiatives at the state and local level (even invalid or unconstitutional initiatives) more lucrative and rewarding. I-517 purports to protect the rights of petitioners, but it’s really a Help initiative profiteers make even more profits initiative.

Section 2 of I-517 was conceived to ensure that paid, out of state petitioners could set up shop right in front of store entrances and exits and intercept shoppers, but initiative opponents could not stand next to them with a “think before you ink” message. Decline to sign campaigns would be criminalized.

The mechanism? I-517 says that no one can maintain an “intimidating presence” within twenty-five feet of a petitioner. What constitutes an “intimidating presence?” The initiative doesn’t define these words, but presumably if a petitioner calls up the police and says, “I feel threatened”, that’s grounds for the initiative opponent to be arrested, or asked to leave. Law enforcement would be required under I-517 to “vigorously protect” petitioners, but not initiative opponents.

This doesn’t make sense, nor is it fair. The World says:

Imagine, pass I-517 and a store owner with distinct and protected property rights and a uniform set of rules could prohibit a charitable solicitor from setting up at his door, or a religious pamphleteer, or a political candidate seeking votes, but not a petition signature collector. The managers of a convention center, fairgrounds or stadium, can set rules for public conduct in their facilities, but signatures gatherers would be exempt, because Initiative 517 says they shall not be deterred. They have super rights.

We agree. We strongly urge a NO vote on I-517 this fall.

“Get Ready” goes up on the air as the NO on I-517 Coalition’s first television spot

From the Campaign Trail

This morning, the NO on I-517 Coalition, which NPI’s Permanent Defense is proud to be part of, launched its first television ad urging a no vote on Tim Eyman’s I-517. The spot is now airing on a number of television stations in the Puget Sound region. Here’s a description of it from the coalition’s press release:

“Get Ready” shows the intrusive nature of I-517 by depicting scenes of what petitioning inside of public buildings could look like. Signature gatherers are shown trying to get signatures from people reading in a quiet section of a library, baseball players at a neighborhood ballgame, fans getting food from a concession stand at CenturyLink Field, and shoppers trying to go into a store to get groceries.

Petitioners are already allowed under current law to gather signatures outside of public buildings and on public sidewalks, but under I-517, the scenes in “Get Ready” would become Washington’s new reality.

I-517 also makes it illegal for anyone to interfere with a signature gatherer’s activities in any way. Section 2 of I-517 explicitly says that petitioners must be allowed to operate directly in front of the entrances and exits of “any store”, even freestanding stores on private property. I-517 just goes too far.

“Our concern is to ensure our customers have the best experience they can, and I-517 would negatively impact that experience,” said Jan Teague of the Washington Retail Association. “We worry about our customers being harassed and not being able to do anything to stop it. That’s why our coalition is working to educate voters about the consequences of I-517. We urge all Washingtonians to join us in voting no on 517 and protecting free speech and property rights.”

The NO on I-517 Coalition is one of the most diverse efforts to defeat a ballot measure in Washington State history. It includes businesses and trade associations, labor unions, civic groups, sports teams like the Seattle Seahawks and Sounders FC, and people and groups from across the political spectrum, such as the Washington State Democratic Party and the Mainstream Republicans of Washington.

Governor Jay Inslee and former Attorney General Rob McKenna, who ran each other for the state’s top position last year, are both opposed to I-517, as is former Auditor Brian Sonntag and former Secretaries of State Sam Reed and Ralph Munro.

Those who would like to view the ad can watch it on YouTube.

The ad’s transcript is as follows:

Narrator: Get ready. With Tim Eyman’s Initiative 517, paid signature gatherers will have free reign. Inside stadiums, zoos, libraries…. wherever they want. Even if they violate property rights.

517 grants signature gatherers such special rights that restricting them in any way is a crime. And under 517, every initiative with enough signatures would qualify, even if it’s clearly illegal or unconstitutional.

Vote no on 517… before we can never say no again.

The Secretary of State’s office says ballots should reach all Washington State voters by October 22nd. We urge all Washingtonians to join us in voting NO on I-517 and rejecting Tim Eyman’s latest self-serving initiative.

Progressive Voter’s Guide urges a no vote on Tim Eyman’s Initiative 517

From the Campaign Trail

Each year around election time, our friends at Fuse Washington put together a voter’s guide for progressive voters to use when filling out their ballots. The guide provides ballot measure recommendations in plain English, and shows which progressive organizations have endorsed which candidates in competitive races.

It is a valuable resource and a lot of work goes into making it useful.

This year’s Progressive Voters Guide contains a strong statement against I-517, which NPI’s Permanent Defense is working to defeat. Here’s the text of it:

Initiative 517: Vote NO

Initiative 517 is Tim Eyman’s most self-serving initiative yet. Eyman, the sponsor of over a dozen misguided and unconstitutional initiatives, wrote I-517 to make signature gathering more lucrative and initiatives more profitable. I-517 would prevent business owners from being able to stop aggressive petitioners from blocking or harassing customers, and it would allow out-of-state petitioners to solicit signatures inside public buildings, including libraries and sports stadiums year round.

I-517 has broad progressive opposition, but the coalition also includes retailers like Metropolitan Markets and sports teams like the Seattle Seahawks and Sounders FC. Many Republicans are also opposed; former Attorney General Rob McKenna and past Secretary of State Sam Reed have joined progressives in urging a “no” vote.

Opposed by: Washington CAN!, Northwest Progressive Institute, Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Sounders FC

We’re proud to be part of the diverse, bipartisan coalition organizing opposition to Initiative 517. Join us in protecting our constitutionally guaranteed free speech and property rights by voting “no” on I-517 this fall.

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