In legal fight with AG, cost of contempt is rising for Eyman

A judge has doubled the fine for the initiative promoter’s failure to produce records.

Tim Eyman (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

Tim Eyman (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

OLYMPIA — A political corruption case against Tim Eyman is getting more expensive every day for the Mukilteo initiative promoter.

On Friday, a Thurston County Superior Court judge doubled the fine levied against Tim Eyman for not providing financial records sought as part of a civil suit accusing him of illegally profiting from political activities in 2012.

Judge James Dixon, who found Eyman and associates in contempt in March for not delivering the requested documents to Attorney General Bob Ferguson, increased the sanction to $500 a day against Eyman and also against Citizen Solutions, a professional signature-gathering firm and co-defendant. Ferguson’s office had hoped for a $2,000-a-day fine.

“Tim Eyman and his associates are ignoring multiple court orders and refusing to turn over documents in order to avoid accountability for their intentional campaign finance violations,” Ferguson said in a statement. “It won’t work.”

Eyman on Monday declined to comment.

Instead, he forwarded an email he sent to supporters soliciting contributions to a legal defense fund.

“The government’s political jihad against me has been going on for many years. Over a decade of tax returns, bank statements, phone records, and literally millions of emails and documents on my computer had to be reviewed,” he wrote. “No matter how much we give them, they always ask for more.”

In the email, Eyman called Ferguson a “power-hungry politician who’s gunning to be governor.” And he described the attorney general as “soulless” for seeking to depose Eyman’s wife who he said “had no role whatsoever in any of my political efforts.”

Eyman’s attorneys are fighting to prevent the deposition.

In the meantime, this case is not likely to get resolved soon. A trial had been set for November but now will not be held until 2019 due to the extended discovery process.

When Dixon found Eyman in contempt March 9, he imposed the fine retroactive to Feb. 16 as recommended by a special master assigned to handle discovery matters in the case. The contempt order will remain in effect until the special master, a retired judge, informs Dixon that the contempt is purged.

Eyman and Citizen Solutions had collectively racked up $101,500 in contempt fines through Sept. 7, according to the Attorney General’s Office. They also owe $35,722 to Ferguson’s office for costs and fees tied to the contempt motions.

Eyman faces civil charges of secretly moving funds between two initiative campaigns in 2012 and receiving $308,000 in kickbacks from the firm that collected signatures for the measures.

Ferguson’s lawsuit, filed in March 2017, alleges Eyman failed to report that he was shifting money donated for Initiative 1185, a tax-limiting measure, into the campaign for Initiative 517, which sought to reform the initiative and referendum process. He is seeking $1.8 million in penalties plus reimbursement of the funds he alleges were received through kickbacks.

Under state election law, money can be moved from one political committee to another, but it must be disclosed in reports to the commission. And the sources of the money that is getting shifted must be revealed.

Eyman has denied wrongdoing.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald Twitter: @dospueblos.

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