May 13th, 2019
Over the past four years, while doing his best to stonewall Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s investigation into his egregious violations of Washington’s public disclosure laws, Tim Eyman has attempted to qualify nearly half a dozen initiatives to the ballot.
Each time, with the sole exception of I-976 (which is on the November 2019 ballot), Eyman’s petition drives have ended in failure, because he didn’t have the money to purchase the signatures necessary to force a public vote on his bad ideas.
There was I-1421, I-869, and I-947, the three failed precursors to Initiative 976.
In between I-869 and I-947, there was I-1550, a failed scheme to gut property taxes.
And before those four, at the end of 2015, there was a initiative concept announced by Eyman and his associates Mike and Jack Fagan with an ice cream social in Governor Jay Inslee’s office. Eyman printed up prop petitions for that measure to use at his press conference, but then failed to actually launch a signature drive following the new year.
That initiative concept from almost four years ago is the basis for I-1648.
As with I-1648, each of the aforementioned fakes was unveiled and trumpeted by Eyman with all the fanfare he could muster through email blasts, social media postings, and right wing talk radio appearances. And each went nowhere, because Eyman simply does not have the network of support necessary to qualify anything to the ballot with just volunteer labor.
I-976 is Eyman’s first real initiative in years. It’s already on the ballot — Eyman claims he cashed out his retirement in order to finance the signature drive, although documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court suggest Eyman didn’t entirely empty his retirement fund to qualify the measure — but rather than focus on trying to sell it to voters, Eyman has decided to make another run at getting a second scheme on the November ballot.
Eyman’s initial plan to double up on the November 2019 ballot was to qualify Referendum 80, an attempt to void the new salary schedule for legislators and statewide elected officials adopted by the Washington Citizens Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials.
But he botched that effort and it imploded a few weeks ago.
Now Eyman is trying to resurrect the scheme he came up with a few years ago to follow his hostage-taking Initiative 1366, which would force any revenue reform agreed to by the Legislature to expire after one year unless approved at the ballot.
Initiative 1648 also seeks to repeal all of the modest revenue reforms just enacted by the House and Senate as part of the recently-concluded regular session of the Washington State Legislature. Since it’s trying to do two different things, it probably violates the Washington State Constitution’s single subject rule.
Because Eyman is aiming for the 2019 ballot, he is operating on a tight timeframe. He has less than two months to collect 330,000 signatures.
We can’t find any evidence that Eyman has found a wealthy benefactor to underwrite the signature drive for I-1648. And Eyman would need a wealthy benefactor to make this initiative go. Therefore, at this time, we assess that I-1648 is another one of Eyman’s fakes — a scam designed to part rank and file Republicans from their money.
If I-1648 becomes a credible threat, we’ll immediately begin organizing opposition to it.