Earlier today, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced that his office has filed a campaign finance lawsuit against Tim Eyman, the anti-tax crusader responsible for many a conservative ballot-initiative. The suit, filed in response to a 2012 Public Disclosure Commission investigation, alleges that Eyman has embezzled campaign funds, and misappropriated and misreported donations.
Specifically, the lawsuit claims that Eyman, while serving as an officer on the political committee fielding initiative 1185—which would have required a two-thirds majority vote for the state legislature to raise taxes—was paid more than $300,000 with donations that were intended to go toward supporting the initiative. The lawsuit claims that this payment was also not reported to the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission. Additionally, the lawsuit claims that Eyman funneled donations made to I-1185 to Initiative 517, another effort he was heading up that would have enacted penalties for “interfering with signature-gatherers or signers.”
“Taking kickbacks from contractors, using campaign funds for personal expenses, redirecting donations made for one initiative to a different initiative—it’s hard to imagine what more Mr. Eyman could have done to show his contempt for our campaign finance disclosure laws,” Ferguson stated in a press release.
Ferguson is asking for almost $2 million in penalties from Eyman, as well as a reimbursement to the political committee from which Eyman allegedly embezzled campaign donations.
Eyman responded by sending out a statement from his attorney, Mark Lamb of the Bothell-based North Creek Law Firm, which denied any wrongdoing on Eyman’s part—specifically on his reporting practices—and implied that Ferguson’s lawsuit was politically motivated.
“This dispute is simple: whether two transactions needed to be included on campaign reports. The Attorney General believes they should, we do not. From the beginning, Mr. Eyman has made clear he did nothing wrong and the money he received was lawfully earned for the services he provided,” Lamb’s statement read, in part. “Mr. Eyman has the same First Amendment rights as the Attorney General himself. It is chilling that the stated purpose of this action is to permanently bar him from participating in the political process in this State.”