The problem is that Tim Eyman’s so called legal fund paying Tim Eyman’s legal bills and fees allowed him, among other things, to be able to donate over $41,000 in kind to the Initiative 807 campaign.
Over $120,000 of his so-called legal fund wound up in Tim Eyman’s billfold! Yet according to the PDC this technically seems O.K. It would make sense that any funds raised to pay legal bills incurred as a result of illegal political activities that result in fines should also be subject to public disclosure laws.
The complaint filed this year noted that Eyman basically wrote political letters asking people to help him with his financial problems.
After talking to the PDC last August they said if it was used for legal fees it didn’t fall under their domain. This was despite the fact that he never officially registered a legal fund with the state or Federal government, did not sent up a Board of Directors, have any by-laws or have an independent treasurer. He had sole control of the money and deposited it in his personal checking account. And he told people that the contributions will be anonymous.
Raising concern over how this appears and having questions that the money might be used for political causes is a legitimate issue. It is not government harassment or harassment by his opponents to ask what is going on. Eyman has repeatedly lied in the past. Last year Eyman was fined $55,000 by the state.
The Public Disclosure Commission violations then were cited as concealing salary he paid to himself, using campaign funds for his watch business, failure to keep adequate records, and failing to report in kind donations. As part of his consent agreement with the state Attorney General to end the case he agreed to the unprecedented action of agreeing to never be a campaign treasurer for a political committee. Yet here he is the treasurer in fact of some $148,000 he collected from campaign supporters for his so-called legal fund..
So now in this investigation the Public Disclosure Commission is in a catch 22 situation since they gave him legal advice. If they found that any money raised by the legal fund went to help Eyman further his political causes it needed to be reported to the PDC. He reported it all went to pay his fines of $55,000, reimburse legal expenses of $65,000 to Permanent Offense, Inc. and the rest for fundraising and administration.
But it is really just a shell game. The fines and the legal expenses were the result of his political campaigning. He is continuing to campaign. The fines were paid by Eyman originally and legal fees originally were paid by Eyman’s now defunct corporation, Permanent Offense, Inc. When the legal fund paid Permanent Offense back, the money went solely to Eyman as the sole owner of the corporation. The legal fund reimbursed him for his $55,000 fines. So he now has money to campaign again.
Eyman wrote a check from his legal fund on July 28th, 2003 to Permanent Offense, Inc for $65,000 to repay legal fees. But Permanent Offense, Inc ceased reporting to the Dept of Revenue on June 30, 2002 and failed to file papers Feb, 28, 2003 with the Secretary of State to remain an active corporation in Washington State. Eyman in his deposition to the PDC basically admits that the money will go to him.
Taxpayers for Washington Future will continue to look at Tim Eyman’s fundraising practices and his campaigns. When appropriate we will continue to raise questions when laws appear to be violated or skirted. We will look at the details provided by the PDC’s investigation and if we determine that further legal action is needed we will pursue it.
And anytime Tim Eyman wants to debate the issues we will do so. We think that his most recent proclamation that as “revenge” for the legislature passing a gas tax he will work for an initiative for a 25% cut in state property taxes points to his irresponsible and ridiculous reasoning process in how to deal with state revenue issues. State property taxes are a dedicated fund for K-12 education. If passed, the 25% reduction would eliminate approximately $800,000,000 from K-12 education funding. Eyman must be sending his kids to private schools since he certainly shows no feelings for the future of children in Washington State.