Thurston County judge finds Tim Eyman in contempt

Jul 26, 2019, 4:15 PM
Tim Eyman...
Tim Eyman's legal troubles continue. AP)

A day after getting some good news on the legal front, anti-tax activist Tim Eyman saw the other side of that coin Friday, when a Thurston County judge found him in contempt for a second time, as part of an ongoing lawsuit filed by State Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

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The lawsuit alleges Eyman violated Washington’s state campaign finance laws. Ferguson is in the process of suing him for $2.1 million, in addition to hundreds of thousands of dollars in court contempt fees.

The contempt finding stems from Eyman’s “refusal to disclose complete information related to hundreds of thousands of dollars of payments he solicited from individual donors.” He was initially ordered to provide those documents in late January 2019 and then again by May 31.

For a previous contempt ruling, the court ordered that Eyman be fined $250 per day beginning in February 2018 until he produced requested discovery documents. That was doubled to $500 in September. Ferguson’s office estimates Eyman has been sanctioned over $211,000 across 525 days in contempt.

“Our campaign finance laws demand transparency,” Ferguson said in a Friday news release. “Ignoring multiple court orders and refusing to turn over documents in order to avoid accountability is unacceptable.”

A Thurston County judge ruled in April that Eyman could face a lifetime ban from handling finances for political committees as a possible punishment in this case. Eyman had argued — sans a lawyer — that such a ban violated his First Amendment right to free speech.

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Eyman has long advocated for various anti-tax ballot initiatives in Washington, and has faced legal trouble more than once for improper use of campaign funds, a charge he was fined $50,000 for in 2002.

In that 2002 ruling, Eyman agreed to a similar ban that barred him from acting as “signer on any financial accounts” for political committees. He alleges that the punishment on the table for this latest case is stricter, and could potentially keep him from participating in campaigns for initiatives altogether.

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Thurston County judge finds Tim Eyman in contempt