OLYMPIA — A Thurston County judge cleared the way Friday for the state to add new campaign finance violations into its lawsuit against initiative promoter Tim Eyman, of Mukilteo.
Superior Court Judge James Dixon granted Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s motion to amend a complaint 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.
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 set for early next year.
In the latest motion, state attorneys allege Eyman employed “a wide variety of schemes to solicit and collect funds that should have been reported as contributions” to his political committees since 2013.
They say 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 are based on information in documents collected in the course of the case, according to the motion.
Eyman, who represented himself Friday, didn’t oppose the state’s request.
“The motion to amend is better than them coming back with a new lawsuit,” he told the judge.
Dixon ruled minutes after Eyman concluded a lengthy presentation to the court in which he denied wrongdoing, asked for time to get an attorney, spoke of the financial toll of the case on his life, and lashed out repeatedly at the attorney general
“I don’t think I did anything wrong,” he said. “I believe everything I did was consistent with the law.”
Eyman spoke uninterrupted for the better part of an hour, pausing numerous times to wipe away tears. Early on, Dixon called for a short break to allow him to compose himself.
Eyman said he had reached a breaking point earlier this month and wanted to settle. On Friday, he said he would never expect to get a reasonable offer from the attorney general.
But, he told Dixon, he was prepared to accept the court’s judgment in the case because he trusted any punishment meted out by the judge would be reasonable and fair.
Even if it meant no longer being politically active in the state, Eyman said, “I would accept it, I would abide by it, I would hate it.”
Andrew Villeneuve, executive director of Northwest Progressive Institute and one of Eyman’s most ardent opponents, was in the courtroom. He said the anti-tax crusader’s problems are of his own making.
“Eyman may not take his campaign finance reporting responsibilities seriously, but he should not be surprised that Bob Ferguson takes his law enforcement responsibilities seriously,” he said. “There are consequences for making stonewalling in the extreme your legal defense strategy, and Tim Eyman is now discovering what some of those consequences are.”