Tim Eyman is doing the rhetorical equivalent of turning out his pockets with a sheepish grin on his face and saying "shucks mister, can you spare some free publicity?"
In his relentless flood of press releases, Eyman is attempting to cast himself as a populist champion, calling the opposition effort "Washington DC's most powerful labor unions' $3.4 million 'con' campaign." As to the pro I-1033 effort, Eyman quipped in an e-mail yesterday: "our side--zero, zip, nada--no TV, no radio, not even campaign signs."
Both of those characterizations are grossly misleading. First, as to the money coming from D.C. interests, the two biggest donors to the No on I-1033 campaign are national but Bill Gates cracked the top five donors and 597 other people or interest groups, of 625 total donors, are from Washington state.
And Eyman's campaign wasn't always broke. He had about $670,000, most of it from retired Woodinville investment broker Michael Dunmire and Bellevue real estate baron Kemper Freeman. (Along with a $250,000 loan.) He just had to blow through all the money up front trying to get the initiative on the ballot in the first place.
Between February and April, Eyman paid Citizen Solutions, owned by Roy Ruffino and Eddie "Spaghetti" Agazarm $510,000 to get all those signatures.
In fact, the vast majority of Citizen Solutions' business in the state is thanks to Eyman. Since 2003, he's steered $2.2 million to the outfit, more than 70 percent of their total haul from all clients, according to the Public Disclosure Commission.
Goldy over at Horse's Ass calls Ruffino an Eyman "friend" and has speculated in the past on their business relationship. The PI referred to the pair as associates in coverage of an initiative Eyman ran in 2004 to legalize slot machines. But Agazarm insists he and Ruffino are simply political mercenaries. "We do initiatives for anyone who needs the help and has some funds," he says. "We don't choose sides."