Eyman remains in contempt of court after more than 2 years
OLYMPIA — A federal bankruptcy judge ordered initiative promoter Tim Eyman to comply with a court-approved plan to pay the contempt sanctions he has accrued by refusing to follow court orders in a campaign finance case brought by Attorney General Bob Ferguson. The bankruptcy plan starts with an immediate $278,137.93 payment, followed by significant monthly payments until all court penalties are paid. This includes any future judgments.
“This order reflects the significance of the contempt Tim Eyman has shown the court and public,” Ferguson said. “Washington taxpayers will now get what they are owed for Tim Eyman’s illegal obstruction.”
As of today Eyman’s contempt sanctions total $341,250, of which Eyman has previously paid $59,750. Under the order from Chief Judge Marc Barecca of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Washington, Eyman will pay $270,000 by April 27, plus $8,137.93 toward a judgment in another campaign finance case about improper accounting by his “Tougher to Raise Taxes” committee. The order requires Eyman to pay $10,000 every month starting in May. Starting January 2022, the monthly payments increase to $13,500.
The Attorney General’s Office agreed to a 1 percent interest rate for Eyman, as long as he pays on time. If Eyman fails to make his payments, the interest rate will increase to the standard state rate of 12 percent for the remaining amount.
Ongoing discovery violations
Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon has previously ruled that Eyman has continued to “willfully and deliberately” defy court orders compelling him to produce documents related to the case.
As of today, Eyman and his for-profit company, Watchdog for Taxpayers, have been in contempt of court for 784 days — more than two years.
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 with the court order, the court doubled the daily penalty to $500.
In July 2019, the court held Eyman 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.
Campaign finance case
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.
The lawsuit also accused for-profit signature gathering firm Citizen Solutions of participating in a scheme to conceal campaign money the company funneled to Eyman.
On Sept. 30, 2019, Judge Dixon found that Citizen Solutions and its principal, William Agazarm, broke the law, and ordered them to pay more than $1 million for their role in deceiving Washingtonians.
In his order, Judge Dixon wrote that Agazarm “personally approved Citizen Solutions’ kickback payment” to Eyman. Judge Dixon ruled that Agazarm knew that Eyman “planned to and, in fact, did use the funds for his own personal expenses and to support the signature gathering effort for a different Eyman-supported initiative.”
Dixon further ruled, “The Court finds that the Citizen Solutions Defendants not only knew the extent of Defendant Eyman’s scheme, but actively assisted with his violations, helping him mislead contributors into believing their contributions would go to support ballot initiatives, when in fact, they were benefiting Defendant Eyman personally. Crucially, the Citizen Solutions Defendants assisted Defendant Eyman in laundering payments purportedly for signature gathering, which were made after the signature gathering was completed and accepted by the Citizen Solutions Defendants solely to conceal that they were being funneled to Defendant Eyman.”
The court will consider these allegations against Eyman at trial, set for July of this year. The trial will also determine the penalty Eyman will face for the more than 100 violations of campaign finance law the court has already ruled he committed.
In February of this year, Judge Dixon ruled that Eyman broke the law by failing to disclose the $766,447 in contributions in the form of multiple reports to the state Public Disclosure Commission over several years. The judge ruled that a total 110 reports are a combined 173,862 days late. Eyman remains in contempt of court for refusing to turn over information, for which the court has ordered him to pay daily monetary sanctions.
Washington campaign finance law allows penalties of up to $10,000 per report, plus $10 per day that each report is late. Eyman can also face an additional penalty of $766,447 — the amount concealed. Additionally, the penalty can be trebled if the judge finds his conduct was intentional. The office contends these violations were intentional and will be seeking triple penalties.
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