Tim Eyman looks up at a video monitor in a hallway as he arrives for a session of Thurston County Superior Court on Feb. 10 in Olympia. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, file)

Tim Eyman looks up at a video monitor in a hallway as he arrives for a session of Thurston County Superior Court on Feb. 10 in Olympia. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, file)

Ouch: Judge orders Tim Eyman to pay state’s $2.9M legal tab

In February, a judge found that the serial initiative promoter repeatedly violated campaign finance laws.

OLYMPIA — Initiative promoter Tim Eyman’s latest political misdeeds are going to cost him a bundle of money for a very long time.

On Friday, a Thurston County judge ordered Eyman to pay the state $2.9 million to cover the cost of its legal pursuit of the anti-tax activist for multiple violations of Washington campaign finance laws.

The sum awarded by Superior Court Judge James Dixon covers attorney fees and litigation costs racked up since Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed the civil lawsuit against Eyman in 2017.

That amount is on top of a $2.6 million civil penalty Dixon levied in February after a multi-day trial in which he concluded the former Mukilteo resident illegally moved money between unrelated initiative campaigns in 2012, engineered a $308,000 kickback from a signature-gathering firm involved in those initiatives and failed to report hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contributions. Eyman now lives in Bellevue.

When added up, Eyman owes $5.5 million in fines. Under an existing court-ordered schedule, Eyman is paying the state $10,000 a month, which will increase to $13,500 in 2022. At that rate, it will take in the neighborhood of 33 years to finish paying.

“Tim Eyman broke the law — repeatedly — and in order to delay his day of reckoning, he willfully dragged out this case with frivolous and cost-inflating litigation tactics,” Ferguson said in a statement. “This decision ensures that Tim Eyman bears the cost of his years-long obstruction of our case — not the taxpayers.”

Eyman reacted with disgust Friday.

“The judge rubber-stamped the AG again,” begins a fundraising email.

Later, in a radio interview with talk show host Dori Monson, Eyman renewed his argument that Ferguson’s team “jacked up their costs as much as they possibly could because the hope was that it would destroy me and I would never actually make it to trial. And just because literally thousands of people ended up helping me with my legal defense fund, I was at least able to get over the finish line, scraping and scratching and clawing.”

Barring an appeal — which Eyman vowed to pursue Friday — this should close the book on a saga that began with a complaint filed in August 2012 with the Public Disclosure Commission by Sherry Bockwinkel of Tacoma. It alleged 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 modify the initiative and referendum process.

That prompted a three-year probe by the commission staff. It relied on bank records, emails and interviews to diagram how Eyman steered payments through his political committee, Voters Want More Choices, to Citizen Solutions, a signature-gathering firm, allegedly knowing that a portion of the money would be paid back to him for personal use and political activity.

Commissioners found the action so egregious that they delivered it to Ferguson to pursue. He filed his lawsuit March 31, 2017, and it crept along as Eyman continually resisted turning over documents. As of November, Eyman had been fined several hundred thousand dollars for contempt violations.

Last month, state attorneys filed a request to recoup costs. It showed that seven attorneys and staff spent 9,899.71 hours on the case. They billed at hourly rates ranging from $123 to $408, adding up to $2.8 million. Sheets with itemized billings for each person were filed.

A decision on the fees had been set for March 11, but attorney Seth Goodstein, Eyman’s lawyer, asked for and received additional time to review the billings.

Meanwhile, in addition to the financial penalties, Dixon in February also imposed restrictions on Eyman’s role in future ballot measure campaigns.

Reporter Jerry Cornfield: jcornfield@heraldnet.com | @dospueblos

Talk to us

More in Local News

FILE - A Boeing 747-8, Boeing's new passenger plane, takes its first flight, Sunday, March 20, 2011, at Paine Field in Everett, Wash. After more than half a century, Boeing is rolling its last 747 out of a Washington state factory on Tuesday night. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Boeing’s last 747 to roll off the Everett assembly line

The Queen of the Skies was dethroned by smaller, more fuel-efficient jets. The last 747s were built for a cargo carrier.

PUD workers install new transformers along 132nd Street on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2022 in Mill Creek, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Electric vehicles spur big forecast jump for PUD demand

Not long ago, the Snohomish County PUD projected 50,000 electric cars registered in the county by 2040. Now it expects up to 660,000.

Traffic moves northbound on I-5 through Everett on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Grinding work still needed for I-5 through Everett

Construction crews need warmer temps for the work to remove what a reader described as “mini raised speed bumps.”

After a day of learning to fight fires, Snohomish firefighter recruit Chau Nguyen flakes a hose as other recruits load the hoses onto a fire truck April 19, 2018, at the training facility on S. Machias Rd. in Snohomish. (Andy Bronson / Herald file)
Lawsuit: Everett firefighter sexually harassed numerous recruits

Chau Nguyen resigned earlier this year, long after the first complaint about his behavior at the county’s fire training academy.

Mike Rosen
Businessman Mike Rosen announces campaign for mayor of Edmonds

Rosen, a city planning board member, is backed by five former Edmonds mayors. It’s unclear if incumbent Mike Nelson will run again.

The Everett Police Department was investigating a woman's death Sunday morning after a driver hit and killed her on Broadway in north Everett. (Everett Police Department)
Woman killed by suspected impaired driver in Everett

A driver reportedly hit the person, which prompted the closure of Broadway between 17th and 19th streets Sunday morning.

Ty Juvinel stands beside the towering welcome figure that he created for the Edmonds Waterfront Center on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022, in Edmonds, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
‘Our heritage is a gift’: 500-year-old log is carved into Tulalip welcome

The wooden figure represents matriarchs who “can see the potential you have that you don’t know yet,” explained artist Ty Juvinel.

Customers enter and exit the new Costco on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022 in Lake Stevens, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
The wait is over as Costco opens in Lake Stevens

The new store, in the works since 2018, opened Friday. Some came for the specials, others had a hankering for hot dogs.

Everett
Everett library, fire department will have social workers on call

Many 911 calls don’t require police or fire responses. City leaders want to ensure frequent callers get the help they need.

Most Read