OLYMPIA — A Thurston County Superior Court judge today sanctioned initiative promoter Tim Eyman and ruled that more than $766,000 given to Eyman are contributions in support of ballot initiatives, not “gifts” from supporters as Eyman has claimed.
This $766,000 is separate from Eyman’s alleged improper personal use of more than $300,000 in contributions made to political committees and concealment of more than $490,000 in contributions that prompted Attorney General Ferguson's original lawsuit.
“Today was a good day for campaign finance transparency and a bad day for Tim Eyman,” Ferguson said. “The judge found that more than $766,000 in payments to Eyman are not ‘gifts’ as he has claimed, they are contributions in support of ballot initiatives. That is significant. The law requires that all contributions be reported to the public at the time they are made. Mr. Eyman has never reported these contributions. He ignored the law, and shielded his contributors from public view. Translation — this means that Tim Eyman concealed more than $766,000 in campaign contributions and the state can and will seek additional penalties for every day he fails to report them.”
Judge James Dixon today granted Ferguson’s motion for non-monetary sanctions against Eyman, agreeing that Eyman has “willfully and deliberately” continued to defy court orders compelling him to produce documents related to the case.
In his order, Judge Dixon found that $766,447 in funds deposited in Eyman’s accounts between February 2012 and July 2018 “are hereby found to be ‘contributions’ in support of ballot propositions … and not gifts.”
The Attorney General’s Office uncovered these contributions in bank records obtained after filing its lawsuit.
“In the 19 months that the Eyman Defendants have been held in contempt, they have failed to provide the information ordered by the Special Discovery Master and this Court, despite clear instructions on what exactly needed to be provided,” Dixon ruled today.
Dixon’s decision noted that multiple previous orders and contempt sanctions against Eyman have not accomplished their purpose of compelling him to turn over documents. Eyman has racked up more than $236,000 in daily contempt sanctions related to discovery violations since February of 2018. The court originally ordered $250 per day in sanctions starting Feb. 16, 2018 while Eyman failed to provide the required information to the state. When Eyman continued his refusal to comply, the court doubled the daily penalty to $500 as of Sept. 7, 2018.
In July, Eyman was found in contempt a second time because of his refusal to disclose complete information related to hundreds of thousands of dollars of payments he solicited from individual donors.
In September of 2015, the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) referred the Tim Eyman case to Attorney General Ferguson for enforcement. The chair of the PDC Commission described the case as “one of the most egregious the PDC has seen.”
In March of 2017, Ferguson filed the campaign finance lawsuit against Eyman, alleging improper personal use of more than $300,000 in contributions made to political committees, concealment of more than $490,000 in contributions and misleading reporting. Additional concealed contributions were discovered during the State’s investigation since then. The lawsuit also accuses Citizen Solutions of participating in a scheme to conceal campaign money the company funneled to Eyman.
Assistant Attorneys General Eric Newman, Todd Sipe and Paul Crisalli are handling the case.
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.
Brionna Aho, Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; Brionna.firstname.lastname@example.org