State attorneys are investigating Eyman’s use of initiative money

EVERETT — State attorneys went after Tim Eyman’s bank records Thursday as they investigate whether he allegedly helped move money among two initiative campaigns in 2012, earning tens of thousands of dollars in the process.

A motion filed in Snohomish County Superior Court seeks to compel the Mukilteo resident to turn over records to the Public Disclosure Commission.

It’s trying to determine if a series of transactions involving Eyman and a signature-gathering firm violated any election laws.

The PDC has been seeking the records since December 2013. Eyman has been ordered to appear in court Sept. 22 to respond.

Eyman declined to comment Thursday, but he previously testified under oath that he did nothing wrong.

His attorney, Mark Lamb of Bothell, said he had not seen the filing.

“Tim has cooperated to date. We have provided a voluminous amount of information,” he said. “It appears they are seeking additional information.”

Thursday’s filing is part of the PDC’s probe of allegations that some of the money Eyman helped raised in support of Initiative 1185 was improperly used for the gathering of signatures for another ballot measure he backed, Initiative 517.

Under state election law, money can be moved from one political committee to another but it must be disclosed in reports to the commission. And the sources of the money that is getting shifted must be revealed as well.

Initiative 1185, which required any tax increase to be passed by a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate, was approved by voters in November 2012. It has since been struck down by the state Supreme Court.

Initiative 517, meanwhile, proposed sweeping changes to the state’s initiative and referendum process. Voters defeated the measure in 2013.

The PDC is focusing on transactions involving Eyman and the firm that gathered signatures for both initiatives, Citizen Solutions.

Voters Want More Choices, the Eyman-led political committee behind I-1185, paid Citizen Solutions nearly $623,000 for collecting the 320,000 signatures that put measure on the ballot.

In July 2012, Citizens Solution paid $308,000 to Eyman through a corporation he set up, Watchdog for Taxpayers.

That same month Eyman loaned $190,000 to Citizens in Charge, a Virginia organization that supports initiatives around the country. The group wound up underwriting the entire cost of gathering signatures for I-517.

Neither the payment nor the loan was reported to the Public Disclosure Commission, according to court documents.

Eyman told PDC investigators in a July 2014 deposition that Citizen Solutions was paying him to help find new clients for the firm in the future.

And he said he loaned the money to Citizens in Charge because he wanted to help the Virginia organization achieve its goals. He said he didn’t know the leader of the group, Paul Jacob, intended to use the money to support I-517.

“My LLC loaned Citizens in Charge money and what they did with that money afterwards I didn’t have any control over that,” he said in his deposition.

Jacob “said he had many projects going on nationally and that if additional funds came in, they would be in a position to be able to help Initiative 517,” Eyman said during the deposition. “But once I made the loans, I didn’t have any knowledge or understanding of whether or not my loans went to his other projects or whether or not he used those funds specifically for 517. I believe to this day that everything was done correctly.”

Thursday’s filing provides new insight into the three-year-old investigation of the signature-collection efforts for the two ballot measures. The original complaint contended individuals gathering signatures for I-517 were getting paid with money raised for I-1185.

Eddie Agazarm, a co-founder of Citizen Solutions, was I-517’s chief backer and it had Eyman’s blessing.

Unlike I-1185, this was an initiative to the Legislature that put it on a different political path. Supporters turned in 345,000 signatures. Citizens in Charge covered the $305,000 cost for gathering signatures as an in-kind contribution. No other money was raised or spent, according to reports filed by the pro-517 committee.

Tony Perkins of the PDC staff said they are “weeks away” from completing the investigation.

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

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