Initiative 807 Campaign Analysis: A Look Inside Eyman’s Initiative Campaign Reveals Some Interesting Facts About Why It Failed!

Why Initiative 807 will not be on the November ballot…

It’s now obvious that Tim Eyman’s super hyped 800, I mean 807 pound gorilla was really no more than a squeaky mouse. Eyman on July 3rd sent out an e-mail saying he didn’t have the necessary signatures to file Initiative 807. Long before the deadline it appeared he gave up on the campaign when he started to divert attention from it to propose an anti-education campaign next year. He wants to cut dedicated state support for public education by proposing to cut state property taxes by a whopping 25%. It is his revenge for the legislature passing a gas tax increase.

The lack of citizen support for the idea of supermajority votes requirements to raise revenue that I-807 advocated removes the political threat that Eyman posed to the Legislature and Washington’s citizens. Eyman is a lot of hype and bluster in the media but this year’s efforts show that his two word mantra of “No Taxes.” is wearing thin on taxpayers when they realize the end result is the same as saying “No Government Services”. When parks get closed, teachers don’t get a pay raise, children’s health care gets cut and potholes don’t get filled taxpayers can make the connection. Even if Eyman had come in with signatures at the last minute, his effort to file Initiative 807 with the Secretary of State would have been challenged on legal grounds on several issues.

Steve Zemke with Taxpayers for Washington’s Future charged that Tim Eyman failed to comply with state law requiring that ‘a full, true and correct copy” of the actual text of Initiative 807 as filed with the Secretary of State be printed in full on the back of his petitions. As many as half of his printed petitions were invalid. Eyman’s mistake was a costly one for the campaign – particularly one which relies so heavily on paid signature gathers. “We were aware of his error early on but we certainly weren’t going publicize it to give his campaign any chance to regroup,” said Zemke. “If somehow he got enough signatures it was our ace in the hole.”

Another reason Initiative 807 would have been challenged in court is that Eyman’s attempt with I-807 to give a one third legislative minority veto power over the state budget is unconstitutional. Article II, Section 22 of the Washington State Constitution gives the legislature the power to pass laws by a majority vote. Eyman can not change the state constitution by initiative.

It is obvious that I-807 did not generate much public support. For all the money and hype he put into the effort he came up with a colossal failure in not getting the necessary signatures. The highest signature count he ever reported to his supporters was some 30,839 signatures on April 22. As more people became aware of the true impact of Eyman’s efforts to cut government services by indiscriminately slashing the government’s ability to raise or spend money, his support has been decreasing. Each of his initiatives has been passed by smaller margins. I-776 barely passed with a 51.5% of the vote. And every initiative after I-695 has required the use of paid signature gatherers – in other words he has had to buy a place on the ballot for his initiatives. Eyman’s campaign management skills didn’t help his current failed campaign either.

When one looks at Eyman’s handling of his campaign funds given by supporters, one has to wonder why any taxpayers really would look to this guy as an expert of any kind in how the state should raise or spend funds. He has a terrible record in wasting funds on poorly drafted measures that the courts throw out. His “management of funds” and accounting and lying just are just like Enron folks did. When he said he was an unpaid volunteer, he was actually paying himself over $233,000. That resulted in last year’s fines of over $50,000 to the state. And this year he is under investigation for his “creative fundraising efforts” to pay money to “Tim Eyman, Taxpayer Advocate” for a so-called legal fund that he controls after he was forbidden from being treasurer on any campaign committee for life as part of his legal settlement with the state. He claimed that any funds sent to “Tim Eyman, Taxpayer Advocate” would be “anonymous”, suggesting his supporters could send contributions to support his political work and avoid public disclosure. He meanwhile has donated some $43,000 in kind to the I-807 campaign.

Eyman’s current costly and fatal campaign mistake was incorrectly printing Initiative 807 on the back of his petitions. He made no notation or underlining as required by law to indicate proposed new language. Anyone reading his text would in error believe it was current law. Eyman failed to print up Initiative 807 as he filed it with the Secretary of State. According to Public Disclosure Commission reports his first massive printing of up to 100,000 copies of this invalid Initiative 807 petition on Jan 27, 2003 cost $10,626. In addition he spent $6,308 to print up the mailing envelope and letter and close to $18,000 to mail out the misleading and invalid printed initiative.

Eyman later spent some $14,000 more printing up a “new version” of Initiative 807 which removed the “No State Income Tax” tag. He said he removed it because of the I-776 ruling. He told his supporters in a letter he mailed with the new version that the original petitions were legal. “… we are told that the old petitions are fine, but we decided to be totally safe (new petitions say: RENEW STATE SPENDING LIMITS). Mail in all partially-filled or filled petitions that have the old design, DON’T THROW THE OLD PETITIONS AWAY – THEY DO COUNT – And there’s no reason to have people who signed the old petition, resign the new petition – just make sure to use the new ones from now on.”

Eyman never mentioned his costly snafu on the back of the petition. He never told his supporters the original petitions were invalid and that the campaign really needed to start over. He quietly reprinted the correct text of Initiative 807 on the back and never mentioned to his supporters that he had wasted some $34,000 of their money because he had not checked the back of the petition before he printed it up to insure that it was “a full, true and correct copy”. It’s a good thing that he said he would not take any money for his efforts on Initiative 807 unless it qualified for the ballot because his supporters certainly got taken to the cleaners.

So after this colossal blunder it is no wonder that we did not see Eyman in the past month urging his supporters to send back their copies of I-807. Half of what he printed up was invalid petitions and anyone who signed them would not have had their name counted toward the minimum 198,000 valid signatures needed to qualify for the Nov. ballot.

So now you have the rest of the story – why Initiative 807 has became another doomed Eyman initiative. No surprise that Eyman is now talking about next year and refused to talk to the media on July 3rd. He just wants this year and Initiative 807 to fade away. Sorry Tim. Those of us who don’t support your extreme right wing libertarian agenda of cutting and ending most government services without regard to the impact on the people of Washington state only hope that you continue your “winning ways” next year and have as much success and campaign savvy as you’ve had this year.

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