Tim Eyman caught violating Washington’s public disclosure laws… again

Eyman holding a press conference for I-1421

SEATTLE — Washingtonians For Ethical Government (WFEG), a recently-formed nonprofit founded to serve as a people’s campaign finance watchdog for the Evergreen State, announced today that it intends to bring a citizen’s action against Tim Eyman and his associates for once again committing serious violations of Washington’s public disclosure laws.

WFEG alleges that Eyman broke the law by failing to report a recently-launched video ad campaign that seeks to “unelect” several dozen Democratic state representatives and state senators as an independent expenditure. The campaign consists of a set of twenty-one video ads that identify Democratic candidates for Legislature by name and face.

Each ad then urges viewers to “Vote Them Out!” The ads meet the definition of an independent expenditure, but have not been reported against the targeted candidates as such. Nor do the ads include the required disclosure “No candidate authorized this ad…”

In a 45-day notice letter (PDF) sent to Attorney General Bob Ferguson and King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg, WFEG documented the violations (PDF) and noted that Eyman has a long history of flagrantly violating RCW Chapter 42.17A, created many years ago by a citizen’s initiative to increase transparency in Washington’s elections and politics.

“Someone who has been active in Washington State politics for over fifteen years on a full-time basis ought to know how to follow our public disclosure laws,” said WFEG boardmember and spokesman Andrew Villeneuve, who has organized opposition against Tim Eyman’s initiatives for more than fourteen years and also serves as the Executive Director of the Northwest Progressive Institute. “Unfortunately, Tim Eyman and his associates have repeatedly demonstrated through their actions that they think the law is beneath them. Eyman has a long history of concealment, sloppy reporting, and delinquent filing. He’s a serial offender who continues to re-offend, election after election.”

“We are bringing this action because we believe these violations need to be fully investigated and prosecuted. Eyman has been given plenty of chances to clean up his act by the Public Disclosure Commission, and failed. The time for lenient treatment is over. He and his associates need to be held accountable and penalized accordingly.”

Washingtonians For Ethical Government is represented by Knoll Lowney of Smith & Lowney, PLLC. Knoll Lowney’s past 45-day notice letters have resulted in significant penalties and litigation. His 45-day notice letter against the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) resulted in the imposition of a $584,000 penalty against the BIAW’s for-profit affiliate.  More recently, his 45-day notice letter against the Grocery Manufacturers Association led to Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office litigating what it calls “the largest political funding concealment case in state history.”