Barber Bob Martin (left) cuts the hair of a customer who declined to identify himself on Thursday in Snohomish. (Andrea Brown / The Herald)

Barber Bob Martin (left) cuts the hair of a customer who declined to identify himself on Thursday in Snohomish. (Andrea Brown / The Herald)

Rogue Snohomish barber faces big tab for his political protest

Bob Martin must pay a $90,000 fine and may lose his license after defying stay-home order in May

SNOHOMISH — The price of protest for defiant Snohomish barber Bob Martin is $90,000.

And in a few days, it may also end his livelihood if he doesn’t pay up, close down or appeal.

The 79-year-old barber plans to do none of the above.

“Good luck,” was his response Thursday when asked about the state’s mandates.

Martin reopened the Stag Barber Shop in May in very public defiance of Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-home order, which was aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

He referred all other questions to the man handling his legal affairs, Rick Martin, who came from Texas in May to take on his case.

“By what authority do they have to charge him $5,000 or $90,000? They have no lawful authority,” said Rick Martin, no relation to Bob. He said he is acting as assistance of counsel to the barber.

He calls himself a “constitutional lawyer.” He did not go to law school.

So the lawyer without a license defends the actions of the barber without a license. “This is an unlawful false edict,” Rick Martin said.

Complaints flooded the state Department of Licensing, which suspended the barber’s cosmetologist operator license May 7 and served him with a cease-and-desist order. Bob Martin was first licensed in 1967.

Martin proudly kept cutting hair while other shops stayed closed during the stay-home order. Customers lined up outside the shop in the plaza on Avenue D. On Thursday, more than a month after salons and barbershops were allowed to reopen, customers steadily trickled in for a cut by Martin or the other barber at work.

Officials imposed a fine of $5,000 for each day he operated. It reached $90,000 on June 2. That’s when the state agency began the process of revoking his license for 10 years. A statement of the charges got mailed to Martin on July 23. There’s a 20-day appeal period.

If he doesn’t appeal, the revocation would be effective immediately, and he would be notified by mail, said spokeswoman Christine Anthony. This is the most severe penalty the agency can impose under state administrative laws, she said.

Rick Martin said he filed three mass tort claims in Seattle for the barber and 700 other plaintiffs.

“Bob was the first one to stand up to say this is unlawful,” he said.

Rick Martin said the claims are against Gov. Jay Inslee, Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Bill Gates.

“Here’s a guy telling us how to do health and he doesn’t have a medical degree,” he said of Gates.

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

Andrea Brown: abrown@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3443. Twitter @reporterbrown.

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