Anti-tax activist Tim Eyman wears a sweatshirt bearing stickers for his I-976 $30 car tabs initiative at the Associated Press Legislative Preview at the Capitol in Olympia on Jan. 10. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Anti-tax activist Tim Eyman wears a sweatshirt bearing stickers for his I-976 $30 car tabs initiative at the Associated Press Legislative Preview at the Capitol in Olympia on Jan. 10. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Judge orders Eyman to reveal where he got nearly $800,000

Attorney General said the money that Eyman calls ‘gifts’ must be treated as political contributions.

OLYMPIA — Initiative promoter Tim Eyman on Friday was ordered by a Thurston County judge to reveal the source of nearly $800,000 he claimed were “gifts” and deposited in personal bank accounts.

Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon imposed the sanction on Eyman for his continued refusal to hand over financial and business records sought by the Attorney General’s Office as part of its political corruption lawsuit against the anti-tax advocate.

Dixon granted Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s request for the sanction. In his ruling, Dixon noted that Eyman, who has been in contempt of discovery orders for 19 months, is “willfully and deliberately” defying court orders to turn over documents.

Friday’s ruling is the latest development in the state’s lawsuit accusing Eyman of secretly moving campaign funds between two initiatives in 2012 and receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks from one of the signature-gathering vendors. Eyman denies any wrongdoing.

The suit, filed in March 2017, seeks $2.1 million in penalties and to bar Eyman from managing, controlling, negotiating or directing financial transactions of any kind for any political committee in the future. The trial is now set for July 2020.

Earlier this year, state attorneys added new allegations that Eyman employed “a wide variety of schemes to solicit and collect funds that should have been reported as contributions” to his political committees.

They said Eyman offered supporters different ways to assist him financially including making direct gifts to him and donations to a nonprofit pro-initiative group that owed money to a consulting firm Eyman set up. The allegations were based on information in documents collected in the course of the case, according to the motion.

Now, the names of some of those who supported Eyman, and the amount they gave him, may soon become public.

Dixon ruled that $766,447 collected by Eyman between February 2012 and July 2018 should be treated as contributions in support of his political endeavors and not gifts for personal use.

“Today was a good day for campaign finance transparency and a bad day for Tim Eyman,” Ferguson said in a statement.

“The law requires that all contributions be reported to the public at the time they are made. He ignored the law, and shielded his contributors from public view. Translation — this means that Tim Eyman concealed more than $766,000 in campaign contributions and the state can and will seek additional penalties for every day he fails to report them.”

One of those who acknowledged helping out Eyman was Bellevue developer Kemper Freeman, according to a court filing by the state.

In a March 29 deposition, he confirmed making “three or four” payments of $10,000 to support Eyman’s work on initiatives.

“I’m sure it’s all in the records here, but that’s as best I can say is three or four times I’ve given him $10,000 and I refer to it sometimes as Ten For Tim,” Freeman said. “He puts his whole life into what he does passing these initiatives and tells me that he’s short on grocery money and literally just traditional family expenses, and I’ve seen him work, I believe that’s true, and I’ve helped him.”

In his deposition, Eyman “refused to answer questions about funds he received through his ‘10 for Tim’ solicitation program,” the state’s filing reads.

Eyman, who has filed for bankruptcy, is representing himself. He says he’s spent more than $900,000 in this fight.

By May, the state’s expenses in the case were approaching $1 million.

In a court filing opposing the sanction, he wrote “I’m not a big corporation, big trade association, big union, or big political party. I’m a regular person. And so, because of the all-out nature of the State’s lawsuit, a large number of people feel sorry for me. Is it any wonder that friends will respond with a gift.”

Prior to Friday’s hearing, Eyman emailed supporters, vowing to “continue fighting. From the beginning, this nightmare had but one purpose: to shut us down.”

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

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