Public Disclosure Commission recommends action against Eyman

OLYMPIA —The state Public Disclosure Commission on Friday recommended that the Attorney General open another case against anti-tax advocate Tim Eyman.

The commission’s decision stemmed from a review of Eyman’s campaign finance reporting, or lack thereof, related to 21 videos targeting Democrats in the Legislature.

The commission had found the videos targeted lawmakers opposed to Eyman’s signature proposal to require a two-thirds supermajority for any tax increases. The web videos urged people to vote against those legislators in upcoming elections.

The PDC ruled 10 of the videos were an independent campaign expenditure that Eyman’s committee failed to report as such. The campaign also failed to include a required disclaimer in the ads saying they were not supported by any candidate, the commission found.

The commission found evidence of a third violation. Money raised by Eyman’s political committee, Bring Back Our $30 Car Tabs, was used to fund the ads.

The situation raised questions about whether the rules governing the initiative process are strong enough, commission Executive Director Evelyn Fielding Lopez said.

People might have very good reasons to contribute funds to the car tab initiative, she said.

“It’s quite a reasonable question to ask as to whether those same people would have had any expectation or understanding that the contributions they made to that initiative would then be used to fund 21 hit pieces against various legislators,” Lopez said. She pointed out that the ads targeted those legislators’ opposition to a completely different Eyman-backed initiative.

By contrast, she said, a candidate running for one office who later decided to seek another office would not be allowed to just roll the campaign contributions over into the new campaign.

The commissioners voted unanimously to recommend the Attorney General’s Office “take appropriate action.” It did not specify what that would entail.

“I think, particularly given the range of violations here and the experience of these officers and the pattern of past violations, that a referral to the Attorney General is appropriate,” said commission chairwoman Anne Levinson.

Eyman already is under investigation by the Attorney General’s Office for other alleged campaign-related violations dating back to 2012.

In June, a Snohomish County judge ruled that Eyman must turn over to the state Attorney General’s office his business, banking and tax records. Eyman has a Wednesday deadline to comply with the order.

The Attorney General’s office opened that other inquiry in response to an request from the PDC last fall. The commission’s investigators had found evidence Eyman had illegally shifted money between two initiative campaigns in 2012 and concealed payments he received in the process.

The commission’s findings included an allegation that Eyman used $170,000 in contributions to a political committee for his own living expenses, that his political committees failed to accurately report contributions and expenditures, and that Eyman concealed about $308,000 in kickbacks he received from the signature-gathering firm hired to work on both campaigns.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; Twitter: @Chris_At_Herald.

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