Eyman lawsuit contempt fines doubled to $1,000 a day
A Thurston County judge has doubled contempt sanctions against initiative promoter Tim Eyman and a signature gathering firm from $500 to $1,000 a day, as part of an Attorney General's civil suit charging that Eyman put campaign donations to personal use.
The Washington AG's office has charged that Eyman has failed to turn over financial documents although ordered to do so months ago. Eyman turned over five files on Monday, which appear to be very basic summaries of contributions.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson wants more in a $2.1 million civil suit against the Mukilteo-based promoter. He is suing Eyman, his political committee and Citizens Solutions, a firm whose paid signature gatherers have helped put Eyman initiatives on the ballot.
He has charged Eyman with putting to his personal use $308,000 in donations made to initiative campaigns, and of concealment of contributions totaling $490,185.
Eyman has charged that he is the victim of a "political jihad" He claims the AG's lawsuit is an attempt to gag him, and that he is cooperating.
"No matter how much we give them, they ask for more," he told supporters in a recent fundraising letter. "When you're the target of a government lawsuit like this, whether you're innocent or guilty, saint or sinner, the result is the same: The process is the punishment."
The Attorney General's suit grew out of a 76-page investigative report by the state Public Disclosure Commission on the shifting of money from one initiative campaign to another, and kicking back of money to Eyman.
"Tim Eyman and his associates are ignoring multiple court orders and refusing to turn over documents in order to avoid accountability for their intentional campaign finance violations: It won't work," Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a statement.
The fines against Eyman and Citizen Solutions, through Friday, had totaled $101,500, plus $35,722 for the state's costs for bringing the suit.
Judge James Dixon has also given the Attorney General's office direct access to Eyman's bank records.
Andrew Villeneuve of the Northwest Progressive Institute, a longtime Eyman critic, doubted that $1,000 daily fines would be enough to force Eyman to turn over everything Ferguson's office wants. "Not enough: They should be quadrupled," said Villeneuve.
Eyman jumped into the initiative business with a 1999 measure mandating $30 car tabs. He has since fielded initiatives blocking Sound Transit, requiring "Super Majorities" in the Legislature to raise revenue or close tax loopholes.
He has found sugar daddies among wealthy Republican givers, took money from oil refiners after the Legislature nearly slapped a per-barrel tax on them, and until recently enjoyed support in the business community.
He has not placed an initiative on the ballot in the past two years.
The Washington State Supreme Court, in a signature ruling, overturned an Eyman "Super Majority" initiative.