Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Dec 11 2019

OLYMPIA — Solicitor General Noah Purcell offers the following statement regarding false statements by initiative promoter Tim Eyman on the Attorney General’s Office defense of Initiative 976 in response to Mr. Eyman’s planned press conference:

“Mr. Eyman claims that the nonpartisan, career attorneys in our Office who wrote the ballot title for I-976 intentionally included language that would cause it to be struck down. The claim is ridiculous. The language in the ballot title that the judge found potentially misleading was a direct quote from the initiative, which Mr. Eyman wrote. And Mr. Eyman specifically argued for that language to be included in the title, as shown in the attached 2018 court filing. It is astonishing that he can claim with a straight face that our Office sabotaged the Initiative by including in the title language that he wrote and that he argued should be included.

“Mr. Eyman claims that the Attorney General’s Office is opposing Pierce County’s attempt to intervene in the case. That is a lie. We did not and will not oppose their effort to intervene, and we have told Pierce County’s attorneys that. We look forward to working with them.

“Mr. Eyman says we are sabotaging defense of the initiative because he sent us ideas for arguments to include in our briefing and we didn’t make them. But we researched every argument he sent us, and they were terrible arguments. For example, he suggested that we argue that the plaintiffs should have to “post a bond” in order to obtain a preliminary injunction, but court rules and multiple decisions from our state Supreme Court make clear that government agencies (like Seattle or King County) do not need to post a bond to seek an injunction. We will not apologize for refusing to make bad arguments.

“Mr. Eyman says it is unethical for the Attorney General’s Office to defend Initiative 976 while separately suing him for violating Washington’s campaign finance laws. As his own attorneys admitted in their briefs, that is untrue. They wrote: ‘While the AG pursuing PDC legal claims against the sponsor of a ballot initiative that it is defending on behalf of Washington State voters may appear at first glance to be a conflict of interest, it is not.’

“Finally, Mr. Eyman says there are various arguments we should have made and things we should have done. He is wrong about that. Mr. Eyman is not an attorney. Our attorneys reviewed every one of Mr. Eyman’s suggestions, but they were all deeply flawed. Even if he had a point, he could have intervened in this case three weeks ago to make whatever arguments he wanted instead of waiting to intervene until now. While our attorneys were working long hours to defend I-976, sometimes until 3 or 4 in the morning, and taking time away from their families over Thanksgiving, Mr. Eyman was spending his time on TV criticizing them. If he thinks there were better arguments to make, he could have made them himself. He chose to focus on getting media attention instead.”


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.aho@atg.wa.gov