UPDATE: Thurston County filing
Despite court ruling, Eyman still withholding documents, impeding investigation
OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson is asking a Snohomish County Superior Court judge to hold Tim Eyman and his political committees in contempt for failing to meet the court-ordered deadline for disclosing documents in the Attorney General’s campaign finance probe. A similar motion regarding for-profit signature gathering firm Citizen Solutions will be filed later today in Thurston County.
If granted, the order would allow the Attorney General to seek the relevant documents directly from the federal government and the respondents’ banks. Ferguson also asked the court to issue a monetary penalty of $2,000 for every day the respondents fail to comply.
“Despite a subpoena and a court order, Tim Eyman continues to impede this investigation,” Ferguson said. “That’s unacceptable.”
On November 13, 2015, the Attorney General’s Office issued civil orders to Tim Eyman; his political committees, including Voters Want More Choices and Protect Your Right to Vote on Initiatives; his for-profit company, Tim Eyman Watchdog for Taxpayers; and Citizen Solutions and its principals.
In order to conduct its investigation, the Attorney General’s Office sought business and financial information, including banking and tax records, regarding Eyman initiative campaigns in Washington. The respondents produced only a smattering of records — many of those heavily censored. The respondents also failed to pursue any court protection for information they believed to be privileged.
Because Eyman and Citizen Solutions refused to comply with the AGO subpoenas and produce the necessary records, the Attorney General asked the courts to order the respondents to comply.
On June 29, Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Ellen Fair ordered Eyman and his committees to comply with Ferguson’s subpoena by July 13, and Thurston County Superior Court Judge Mary Sue Wilson issued a similar order for Citizen Solutions and its principals, Roy Ruffino and William Agazarm on July 1. Both judges also ordered the respondents to pay the Attorney General’s Office costs and fees associated with enforcing the subpoenas.
Following the courts’ orders, Eyman and his committees produced just 247 pages of records, a small fraction of what the court ordered.
Eyman only produced partial tax documents for himself and his business, Tim Eyman Watchdog for Citizens LLC, and no tax records for any of the political committees.
No financial records for the committees were produced at all, except 17 partial bank statements for Voters Want More Choices.
There is substantial evidence that other records exist. In 2015 alone, state Public Disclosure Commission filings show that one respondent committee, 2/3-For-Taxes Constitutional Amendment, made 11 separate payments to for-profit signature gathering firm Citizen Solutions. In 2013, Voters Want More Choices paid Citizen Solutions $50,000. And in 2012, Voters Want More Choices made six payments to Citizen Solutions totaling $623,234.99.
None of the records detailing these transactions has been produced.
Both courts also ordered the respondents to submit a declaration or affidavit to the court attesting that they have submitted all responsive materials. No such document has been given to the court.
The Attorney General’s motion filed today asks the court for:
- A penalty from each respondent of $2,000 for each day they remain in contempt of court;
- An order authorizing the state to issue civil orders to the respondents’ third-party banks to directly obtain the records sought from respondents;
- An order directing respondents to execute releases authorizing the state to obtain federal tax return information; and
- An order awarding the state further costs and reasonable attorney’s fees incurred in connection with bringing this contempt motion.
Hearing dates for each motion are to be determined.
Background on Investigation
In April 2012, the state Public Disclosure Commission received a complaint about Eyman and two of his political committees, Voters Want More Choices and Protect Your Right to Vote on Initiatives. The complaint alleged failures to register as political committees, failure to file timely reports on expenditures and contributions, and the use of funds raised in support of one initiative for a different initiative.
In September 2015, PDC staff presented the results of their investigation to the Commission. The investigation, which addressed conduct from 2012, discovered evidence of multiple apparent violations of state law, including:
- $623,325 in payments by Voters Want More Choices to the signature gathering firm Citizen Solutions “incurred in a manner to effect concealment” because they were described in the committee’s reports as paying for signature gathering, when $308,185 was passed from Citizen Solutions to Eyman’s for-profit company, “Tim Eyman, Watchdog for Taxpayers” on July 11, 2012;
- Eyman’s use of approximately $170,000 in contributions from Voters Want More Choices for personal living expenses;
- The expenditure of about $200,000 contributed to support Initiative 1185 to fund signature gathering for a separate initiative, Initiative 517;
- Concealment of Eyman as the source of $182,000 of in-kind contributions attributed in reports to Citizens in Charge, a Virginia-based company; and
- Failure of Voters Want More Choices and Protect Your Right to Vote on Initiatives to file complete and accurate reports of contribution and expenditure activity.
More details on the investigation and the initial complaint are available in the PDC’s referral letter here.
The commission referred the results of its staff’s investigation to the Attorney General’s Office for appropriate legal action. The commission further noted that it “[was] extremely troubled that it appears that Mr. Eyman intended to hide from the public the sources of funds and the actual purposes for which expenditures were made, and to further conceal that funds were used by Mr. Eyman solely for his personal use.” The commission recommended that the Attorney General consider further investigation into this transaction practice for other years.
In November 2015, the Attorney General began an investigation into the allegations that Eyman, his political committees, his for-profit company and the signature gathering firm Citizen Solutions concealed other financial transactions for years beyond those covered by the PDC investigation, in violation of the state campaign finance disclosure laws. That investigation is ongoing.
The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
Peter Lavallee, Communications Director, (360) 586-0725; PeterL@atg.wa.gov