Additional allegations, penalties, to be decided at July trial
OLYMPIA — A Thurston County Superior Court judge ruled today that Tim Eyman has committed more than 100 violations of multiple Washington state campaign finance laws by concealing $766,447 in political contributions. Eyman faces significant potential penalties which will be determined in July.
Judge James 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 penalty for these violations will be decided following the trial on the remaining issues in the case, set for July 13.
During its investigation, Ferguson’s office discovered that Eyman solicited hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions for a political purpose, which he spent for his personal benefit. Eyman previously characterized the contributions as “gifts,” even though the Public Disclosure Commission specifically advised him in a 2002 letter that donations, such as for personal living expenses, “designed to enable you to continue your efforts of supporting initiatives” were political contributions subject to disclosure.
Today’s ruling did not address the original violations Ferguson and the Public Disclosure Commission asserted at the time Ferguson filed suit in March 2017 lawsuit, including the assertion that Eyman concealed a $308,185 kickback. Those issues, and others, will be resolved at trial.
“Eyman is being held in contempt of court — and today’s ruling reveals his contempt for our campaign finance laws,” Ferguson said. “Eyman will say anything to avoid accountability for his conduct, but his lies won’t work in a courtroom.”
Washington Campaign Finance Law
The people passed Washington state’s campaign finance transparency laws by initiative in 1972. The law requires disclosure of all political contributions, details of those contributions above a certain threshold, and also the nature of how those contributions are expended.
Ongoing discovery violations
Judge 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 735 days — more than two years. They have accrued a total of $317,250 in sanctions, of which they have paid $59,750.
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 refused 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.
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 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 the July 2020 trial.
In September of 2015, the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission referred the Tim Eyman case to Attorney General Ferguson for enforcement. The chair of the Commission at the time described the case as “one of the most egregious the PDC has seen.”
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