New citizen’s action alleges Tim Eyman is once again flouting Washington’s public disclosure laws

Washingtonians For Ethical Government (WFEG), a nonprofit founded to serve as a people’s campaign finance watchdog for the Evergreen State, announced today that it is bringing a new citizen’s action against Tim Eyman for once again violating Washington’s public disclosure laws.

In a forty-five day notice letter sent to Attorney General Bob Ferguson and King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg earlier this week, WFEG attorney Knoll Lowney outlined WFEG’s belief that Eyman and his associates have once again violated the Fair Campaign Practices Act (RCW Chapter 42.17A) — this time by concealing the source of more than ninety percent of the funds raised by “We Love Our Cars”, the latest political action committee created by Eyman’s initiative factory, which was ostensibly formed to promote Initiative 869.

“We Love Our Cars” came into being on June 1st, 2016, and has reported raising a total of $156,787.71 to date, yet has reported cash contributions of only $12,840.10 — with no kind contributions and no loans. On its initial C4 report, the committee reported a previous balance of $143,947.61. But as a brand new committee, it could not have had a previous balance.

Where did the $143,947.61 come from? Another Eyman committee? The public isn’t being told. The committee is concealing where it got its startup cash.

Numbers that don't add up: "We Love Our Cars" has reported raising a lot of money, but most of that is unaccounted for. This is a screenshot of the current PDC website, showing the contribution data for 'We Love Our Cars".
Numbers that don’t add up: “We Love Our Cars” has reported raising a lot of money, but most of that is unaccounted for. This is a screenshot of the current PDC website, showing the contribution data for ‘We Love Our Cars”.

“Washington’s public disclosure law requires that all contributions to a committee be reported. Transfers of money between different committees also have to be reported. The reason these requirements exist is to enable the public to follow the money. Months have passed since Tim Eyman formed ‘We Love Our Cars’, but this committee has yet to report where it got its seed money from,” 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.

Tim Eyman and his associates are already in big trouble for a number of previous violations of RCW Chapter 42.17A, including violations uncovered by the Northwest Progressive Institute and Washingtonians For Ethical Government earlier this year. Yet their behavior has not changed. They continue to brazenly flout the law.

“When we announced our last citizen’s action — which prompted a PDC investigation that looked into and confirmed our allegations —  I observed that someone who has made it his business to promote initiatives full time ought to know how to follow our public disclosure laws,” Villeneuve added. “The Public Disclosure Commission offers extensive online and printed documentation as well as regular trainings to help filers gain a mastery of the law.”

“Tim Eyman, Jack Fagan, Mike Fagan, and their treasurer Barbara Smith have had plenty of time and ample opportunity to become familiar with the law and demonstrate they are capable of filing reports that are timely and complete. Sadly, they haven’t.”

“Since they won’t voluntarily comply with our public disclosure law, we are moving to ensure that the law is enforced and a penalty paid for this pattern of illegal behavior.”

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.”