Tim Eyman says he never laundered money, pocketed donations
Initiative activist Tim Eyman maintains his innocence after a Thurston County Superior Court judge refused to grant a request to deny Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s right to seek a lifetime ban on any future political financing for Eyman.
The potential ban is part of a $2.1 million lawsuit Ferguson is bringing against the initiative promoter for allegedly violating campaign finance laws.
Eyman, who is also facing a separate charge for misdemeanor theft, told the Dori Monson Show that the ban would essentially forbid him from engaging in any sort of political activity for the rest of his life.
“Political action committees are financial transactions — it’s like saying, ‘You can be a truck driver, you just can’t use a truck,'” Eyman said. “They’re effectively making it where I would not be able to participate in any way on ballot measures, not just my own, but anybody else’s either.”
Dori went through Ferguson’s accusations in an attempt to get to the bottom of the case.
Accusation 1: Laundering donations through out-of-state charities
“I loaned money to a foundation (Eyman later retracted the word ‘foundation,’ clarifying that it is actually an organization) that does initiatives all over the nation,” Eyman said. “They were then paying me back, and [Ferguson] says those are campaign donations. They are not … they were my own money.”
The loan, Eyman said, was interest-free and officially documented. He was receiving payments on it until he declared bankruptcy in November.
Dori asked why he would loan that money to a political organization in another state in the first place. Eyman responded that he was attempting to “build a business relationship” with the organization, since his signature-gathering company had hired him to “get them additional clients.”
“Bob Ferguson has a theory, and I think it’s an unprecedented theory, that Tim Eyman personally is a political action committee, and that all my actions, outside of the political committee, need to be reported as well — all of my personal transactions, anything, buying groceries,” Eyman said.
Accusation 2: Pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations
Eyman said that campaign reporting is entirely done by the treasurer of the campaign.
“They’re not campaign donations. I don’t have access to any of the campaign donations,” Eyman said. “The campaign was run by our treasurer.”
He said over the years of fighting Ferguson in court, he personally — outside of any campaign — has raised hundreds of thousands from supporters to cover his legal costs. The court battles have cost him over $800,000 so far, and he said that he has paid that with the money that he has raised himself.
“It was just me going out there and asking people, ‘Please help me, please hire me as a political consultant, please give money to my legal defense fund, please give money to me and my family,'” he said. “I’ve been trying to raise money all these years in order to be able to fight back against that, and he believes that all that money that I’ve raised are political donations, but they’re not. The money that I’ve raised hasn’t been used for a political campaign, it’s been used to be able to fight back and survive this legal onslaught.”
Dori asked him how much he has made off of these donations.
“You’re living,” Dori said. “You’re making money. I know you’re making money on this.”
Eyman said that he received $10,736 from his political action committee for his political work last year, and that the year before that, this figure was around $80,000. He said that in 2012 at his earning peak, he made $308,000 from his contract with the signature-gathering company to get future clients.
He explained that he had to file for bankruptcy because of all of the expenses he accrued, and that all of his money is going toward “simply trying to survive” the legal battle.
“The reality is, a lot of people have been willing to help me be able to get to this stage that I’m at,” Eyman said.
Dori stated that he has never heard of an elected official attempting to take away a citizen’s First Amendment rights in this manner.
“I just don’t understand this future preemptive stripping of constitutional rights by Ferguson,” Dori said. “I do think Ferguson is the most dangerous elected politician we’ve ever had in our state.”
He wondered if people convicted of rape or murder would have their future political rights taken away by the attorney general.
“The big thing we’re talking about is free speech, whether you like what I do or don’t like what I do … you have a government that is simply coming down on one person who has done ballot measures,” Eyman said.