Tim Eyman’s Failure Chart

Curious about con man Tim Eyman’s record as an initiative sponsor? You’ve come to the right place! Welcome to Tim Eyman’s Failure Chart, a resource maintained by Permanent Defense that accurately portrays Eyman’s record as an unelected legislator.

Below you’ll find a table that lists each of the statewide ballot measures that Tim Eyman has sponsored and launched signature drives for since entering Washington State politics in the 1990s. The criteria for determining success or failure is fairly straightforward.

To be marked as a success, the measure must have:

  1. successfully qualified for the ballot with the minimum number of signatures,
  2. received more Yes votes than No votes at the election at which it was considered*, and
  3. withstood any post-election legal challenges.

Measures not satisfying all of these criteria are marked as failures.

As we’ll see, only two measures that Eyman has sponsored have met this test, out of around two dozen in total, which is why this resource is named Tim Eyman’s Failure Chart.

* Note: The criteria for success of a referendum would be “received more Rejected votes than Approved votes at the election at which it was considered”, but Tim Eyman has never successfully qualified a referendum to the ballot, despite having tried several times. 

Measure Year Subject and Synopsis Outcome
Initiative 200 1998
  • Prohibited public agencies and institutions of higher learning from providing outreach and support to historically marginalized and disadvantaged communities 
  • Approved by voters; no legal challenge filed.
SUCCESS
Initiative 695 1999
  • Would have gutted the state motor vehicle excise tax and required voter approval for all tax increases
  • Passed by voters, but ultimately declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court after a legal challenge.
FAILURE
Initiative 722 2000
  • Would have cut state and local property taxes, which fund public services
  • Passed by voters, but ultimately declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court after a legal challenge
FAILURE
Initiative 745 2000
  • Would have required ninety percent of state transportation funding to be spent only on roads
  • Overwhelmingly defeated by voters
FAILURE
Initiative 747 2001
  • Placed a draconian limit on property taxes, hurting cities and counties’ ability to provide public services
  • Passed by voters, but ultimately declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court after a legal challenge
FAILURE
Initiative 776 2002
  • Gutted local motor vehicle excise taxes in four counties, attempted to destroy Sound Transit’s light rail system
  • Passed by voters, survived a legal challenge, but failed to eliminate funding for Sound Transit’s Central Link light rail line, which opened in 2009 to strong ridership
FAILURE
Initiative 267 2002
  • Tried to divert money out of the general fund for road building
  • Failed to qualify for the ballot
FAILURE
Initiative 807 2003
  • Would have undemocratically required two-thirds votes of the state House and Senate for all revenue increases
  • Failed to qualify for the ballot
FAILURE
Initiative 864 2004
  • Would have slashed property taxes by a whopping twenty five percent, destroying funding for public services
  • Failed to qualify for the ballot
FAILURE
Initiative 892 2004
  • Would have legalized electronic slot machines in every Washington State neighborhood
  • Overwhelmingly defeated by voters
FAILURE
Initiative 900 2005
  • Gave the state auditor extensive new powers, funding for performance audits
  • Approved by voters; no legal challenge filed.
SUCCESS
Referendum 65 2006
  • An attempt to overturn ESHB 2661, thereby legalizing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation
  • Failed to qualify for the ballot
FAILURE
Initiative 917 2006
  • Would have repealed some $3 billion in statewide transportation funding and assaulted local communities’ privilege of home rule
  • Failed to qualify for the ballot
FAILURE
Initiative 960 2007
  • Undemocratically required two-thirds votes of the state House and Senate for all revenue increases; also required forced public votes on revenue increases
  • Approved by voters; suspended by the Legislature in 2010; superseded by I-1053 in 2010
  • Main provision was struck down by the Washington State Supreme Court as unconstitutional in February 2013
FAILURE
Initiative 985 2008
  • Would have opened high occupancy vehicle lanes during rush hour, drained part of the state treasury to pay for more roads, and restricted use of tolls
  • Overwhelmingly defeated by voters
FAILURE
Initiative 1033 2009
  • Would have locked in painful budget cuts, trapping Washington in a permanent recession and redistributing siphoned tax dollars to wealthy property owners
  • Overwhelmingly defeated by voters
FAILURE
Initiative 1053 2010
  • Undemocratically required two-thirds votes of the state House and Senate for all revenue increases
  • Approved by voters; directly challenged in LEV v. State in June 2011
  • Main provision (the two-thirds requirement) was struck down as unconstitutional by the Washington State Supreme Court in February 2013
FAILURE
Initiative 1125 2011
  • Would have jeopardized vital transportation projects, including Sound Transit’s East Link light rail and the new SR 520 floating bridge, by placing unreasonable restrictions on tolling
  • Defeated by voters
FAILURE
Initiative 1185 2012
  • Undemocratically required two-thirds votes of the state House and Senate for all revenue increases
  • Approved by voters; main provision (the two-thirds requirement) was struck down as unconstitutional by the Washington State Supreme Court in February 2013
FAILURE
Initiative 517 2012-2013
  • Would have made it easier and cheaper for Eyman and his associates to qualify initiatives to the ballot, giving special privileges to petitioners, and forcing cities to spend money putting invalid or unconstitutional local initiatives on the ballot.
  • Overwhelmingly defeated by voters
FAILURE
Initiative 1325 2014
  • A Ted Cruz-style scheme that would have wiped out $1 billion in funding for schools and other vital public services in the event the Legislature did not pass a constitutional amendment to undemocratically require a two-thirds vote to raise revenue by April 15th, 2015.
  • Failed to qualify for the ballot
FAILURE
Initiative 1366 2015
  • A nearly identical clone of Initiative 1325 (see above) that would have wiped out $8 billion in funding for schools and other vital public services in the event the Legislature did not pass a constitutional amendment to undemocratically require a two-thirds vote to raise revenue by April 15th, 2016.
  • Approved by voters, but declared unconstitutional in its entirety by the Washington State Supreme Court in May of 2016
FAILURE
Initiative 1421 2016
  • Would have wiped out billions of dollars in funding for Sound Transit, WSDOT, and Amtrak Cascades by repealing vehicle fees. 
  • Failed to qualify for the ballot, and confirmed by Eyman as abandoned on June 1st, 2016
FAILURE
Initiative 869 2016
  • A clone of Initiative 1421 (see above) that would have wiped out funding for Sound Transit and Amtrak Cascades by repealing vehicle fees.
  • Failed to qualify as an initiative to the Legislature
FAILURE
Initiative 1550 2017
  • A do-over of Initiative 864 (see above) that would have gutted property tax revenue, eviscerating public services at the local level.
  • Failed to qualify for the ballot
FAILURE
Initiative 947 2017
  • A second clone of Initiative 1421 (see above) that would have wiped out funding for Sound Transit and Amtrak Cascades by repealing vehicle fees.
  • Failed to qualify as an initiative to the Legislature
FAILURE
Initiative 976 2018-2019
  • A third clone of Initiative 1421 (see above) that would repeal funding for Amtrak Cascades, freight mobility, Sound Transit 3 projects, and roads in nearly sixty cities.
  • Qualified as an initiative to the Legislature, passed by voters, declared unconstitutional in its entirety by the Washington State Supreme Court in October of 2020
FAILURE
Referendum 80 2019
  • An attempt to overturn the 2019 updates to the salary schedule for state legislators and statewide elected officials adopted by the Washington Citizens’ Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials
  • Failed to qualify for the ballot, and confirmed by Eyman as abandoned on April 12th, 2019
FAILURE
Initiative 1648 2019
  • Sought to repeal all of the revenue reforms enacted by the Legislature during the 2019 regular session well as slap a one-year expiration date on any future revenue increases not subjected to a public vote.
  • Failed to qualify for the ballot
FAILURE
Initiative 1082 2019
  • Clone of I-1648 (see above) that sought to repeal all of the revenue reforms enacted by the Legislature during the 2019 regular session well as slap a one-year expiration date on any future revenue increases not subjected to a public vote.
  • Failed to qualify for the ballot
FAILURE

The failed measures break down as follows:

  • Six were rejected by voters
  • Twelve were attempted (in other words, Eyman printed petitions and tried to collect signatures) but failed to qualify for the ballot
  • Four were partially voided by the courts
  • Five were voided in their entirety by the courts

There are only two Eyman initiatives that qualified, received more yes votes than no votes, and were not successfully challenged in court: I-200 and I-900.

Of the measures that have been invalidated in court, two were reinstated in modified form by the Legislature: I-695 and I-747. Despite having been partially reinstated, I-695 and I-747 are classified as failures because they did not withstand judicial scrutiny as initiatives.

Like other con artists, Tim Eyman is skilled at manipulating people, including journalists. As a consequence, Eyman’s actual record as an unelected legislator is rarely discussed.

The above Failure Chart only includes Eyman’s measures, but it’s also important to note that Tim Eyman has been a failure as a candidate.

In 2020, Eyman ran for governor of Washington State on a platform bashing Democratic incumbent Jay Inslee. He did not survive the Top Two election. Eyman received a mere 6.41% of the vote; his performance in the election was worse than what initial polling suggested it would be, meaning that Eyman actually lost support during the course of his campaign. Negative momentum is something no candidate wants, but it’s what Eyman got.

Eyman claims that he wins just by getting on the ballot, and in one way, that’s true… Eyman personally profits from the cons he runs against the voters, so he is making money whether he wins or loses. But to us, ripping people off isn’t winning, it’s lying and cheating. It’s not something to be admired or celebrated, but rather, condemned as often as possible.

It is inappropriate to call Eyman an “initiative king” or an “initiative guru,” as neither of those things describe him accurately. What Eyman is really good at (as the investigations into his public disclosure lawbreaking have proven) is duping people, not legislating.

Every con man has to have a hustle —  a dishonest plan for getting money. Ballot measures are the vehicles at the heart of Eyman’s dishonest plans for getting money; they are the equivalent of the jars and bottles peddled by the stereotypical snake oil salesman.

From Eyman’s perspective, there is a benefit to his initiatives not sticking: he can run the same con again a few years down the road, just as the stereotypical snake oil salesman can return to peddle more fake treatments to the gullible. To break this destructive cycle, we need initiative reform and fiscal reform. On the initiative reform front, we need ballot titles to be truthful and we need to prohibit measures from being funded with dark money. On the fiscal reform front, we need to fix our upside down tax code so that our essential public services are funded equitably, with everyone paying their fair share.

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Victory: I-976 struck down!

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