Photo by Michael O’Leary/Everett Herald

Election 2017

Election Chief Deems Eyman’s ‘B.S.’ Too Vulgar for Voter Pamphlet

Requested to edit his argument against a sales tax increase, the conservative activist refuses.

EVERETT — Snohomish County’s elections chief won’t let Tim Eyman get his “B.S.” into the voter’s pamphlet for this fall’s election.

County Auditor Carolyn Weikel said Thursday that Eyman cannot use that specific term in the statement he submitted opposing a sales tax hike measure on the ballot in Mukilteo.

“I believe it is vulgar and inappropriate. There are many other more appropriate words in the English language that could be used to make the same point,” she said.

“I don’t think I’m being a prude. This is an election publication and I believe voters expect a certain level of appropriate and professional presentation of information,” she said. “They expect a higher level of discussion than what Mr. Eyman has put forward.”

But Eyman is fighting back. The Mukilteo resident insisted Thursday it is not a profane or vulgar term, and barring its use infringes on his free speech rights.

“It is so tame. It is so G-rated. It is so mundane,” said Eyman, who urged supporters of his anti-tax efforts to email Weikel to demand she change her mind.

“Truly this is insane for the government to be able to micromanage free speech in a political debate,” he said. “We live in a free society where people over 18 can communicate political ideas and can do so without the government playing Nanny and scold.”

Weikel had not formally notified Eyman of her decision as of Thursday afternoon. She said she requested advice from county prosecuting attorneys “to find out exactly what my options are.” She said she did not know when she would get a response.

The fight stems from Proposition 1 on the November ballot, which calls for a one-tenth of 1 percent hike in the city of Mukilteo’s portion of the sales tax. If approved, money generated from the increase would be spent on improving the city’s streets and walkways.

Weikel’s office recruited volunteers to write the “pro” and “con” statements on the measure for the pamphlet which will be sent to the city’s registered voters.

Glen Pickus, Melanie Field, and Nicole Thomsen penned the argument in favor of the measure while Eyman authored the “con” statement.

“The fact the city needs more money for street maintenance, sidewalks, and bike lanes is indisputable,” supporters wrote.

They contend the sales tax hike is the “best answer” to the question of how to pay the bill. Among their arguments, they said the increase will cost the “average Mukiltean” less than $10 a year and will expire after 10 years.

Eyman countered in his statement: “Politicians always say the need for higher taxes is ‘indisputable.’ We call B.S. on that.”

Inclusion of the abbreviation sent a ripple of concern through the elections office Tuesday as employees proofed statements before sending them to the printer for inclusion in the pamphlet.

“My supervisor felt that the term ‘B.S.’ that you used in your rebuttal statement was considered profanity and needed to be reviewed by the Auditor,” Mary Senter, elections information and design specialist for the county, wrote in an email to Eyman. “The Auditor feels the language is inappropriate and would like you to choose different wording. Using the language ‘We call foul’ would be acceptable, but you may prefer something else.”

Eyman strongly objected, demanding in one of several emails to know what law prevented him from keeping the language.

Meanwhile his lawyer, Stephen Pidgeon, fired off a letter Wednesday arguing the term “contains no vulgarity on its face and is broadly accepted as challenging the veracity of a statement.”

Weikel’s authority is outlined in a section of administrative rules related to producing voter pamphlets. It states the county auditor can reject a statement or argument “deemed to be libelous or otherwise inappropriate.”

It does happen from time-to-time, Weikel said.

“In the past when individuals, typically candidates, have gone down a path that is inappropriate and we contacted them, they’ve made changes,” she said. “We never have had an individual not follow our suggestion. I can’t recall anyone using profanity or vulgar language before Mr. Eyman.”

Eyman’s retort: “It’s honestly just a silly thing for her to throw a childish temper tantrum. The answer to speech we don’t like is more speech. We don’t try to dilute the speech.”

jcornfield@heraldnet.com

This story first ran in the Everett Herald.

More in News & Comment

Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent. Photo courtesy King County
King County Could Ban Solitary Confinement for Youth in Detention

Last week, a lawsuit was filed over the practice; this week, King County scrambled to respond.

Welcome to the Bliss Jungle

A party house in Shoreline served as a home base for a community of hippies. It was also, according to multiple alleged victims, the scene of numerous rapes.

Seattle Schools Superintendent Larry Nyland speaks about a new agreement between the city and Seattle Public Schools at a Monday press conference. Photo by Melissa Hellmann
Former Army Base Could Address School District’s ‘Capacity Crisis’

The city and Seattle Public Schools entered into an agreement on Monday to plan for new schools and Fort Lawton’s future.

Is the State Transportation Commission Irrelevant?

A report says the citizen panel often is ignored, and its duties overlap with the Transportation Department.

Tommy Le’s family, joined by their lawyers, held a press conference in September to discuss autopsy results that showed the Burien man was shot in the back. Photo by Daniel Person
Family of Burien Man Killed by Police Calls Inquest Process a Whitewash

Tommy Le was shot by officers who believed he posed a threat. That’s just one side of the story, says the family attorney.

Matthew Davis, lawyer for lead plaintiff Michael Kunath, argues against the income tax Friday.
Income Tax Hearing Brings a Big Crowd and Few Surprises

A decision is likely to come before Thanksgiving.

Covington Man Charged For Threatening Seattle Church

The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s office charged a 25-year-old man for emailing pastors: “Time to engage the artillery and kill you all.”

Tent City 5 Campers Move to Interbay Tiny House Village

About 65 homeless people move to a new location in the neighborhood where they’re guaranteed electricity, heat, and a roof over their heads.

Photo by Nathalie Graham
Battle Lines Are Drawn in the Income Tax Court Fight

On Friday, the City’s attempt at a more progressive tax system begins a journey that is likely to end at the state Supreme Court. Here is a preview of the fight ahead.

Most Read