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Did AG Ferguson try to stop Pierce County from intervening in 976 suit?

Car tabs continue to cause controversy in the Puget Sound region. (File photo)

Did Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson collude with King County in the I-976 suit to stop interested parties from intervening on behalf of the taxpayers who approved $30 tabs in November’s election? Initiative sponsor Tim Eyman certainly thinks so.

Somewhat ironically, it is Ferguson — who has for years been engaged in a court battle with Eyman over alleged campaign finance law violations — who is tasked, by the nature of his position as attorney general, with defending $30 tabs, the will of the voters, in the lawsuit filed against 976 by the City of Seattle, King County, and other local agencies.

A King County Superior Court judge granted an injunction late last month to prevent $30 tabs from beginning Dec. 5, the date marked in the initiative as the starting day. The Washington

Pierce County Council voted 4-3 on Tuesday to intervene in the 976 suit on behalf of the voters, in support of $30 tabs. But because of a motion filed by Ferguson the previous week, this may not come into play.

Dori: Did AG Ferguson sabotage $30 tabs in court?

“The AG’s office entered into a stipulation without notice to us … that would bar any further motions to intervene, other than ours, which was pending at this time, if they were not filed by Monday,” said Mark Kimball, president of Bellevue’s MDK Law and a legal representative of Eyman. “I don’t want to use the word ‘conspiracy,’ but it’s difficult to look at it.”

However, according to an email that Kimball saw later this week, the attorney general’s office will not stop Pierce County from intervening despite the date of when it was filed.

“I do anticipate that Pierce County will intervene in the case,” Kimball told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson.

The motion on behalf of Eyman will be heard in court Friday.

Other problematic features of the 976 suit

Eyman and his attorneys also find it to be a conflict of interest that the case is being heard in the King County Superior Court, when King County is one of the plaintiffs.

“I’m deeply troubled by the fact that no change of venue was made … It’s fairly egregious in my view that you’ve got the actual county itself as the plaintiff, and then that county is the venue for deciding the very issues,” Kimball said.

They might seek to appeal the venue, but Kimball noted that “it is less likely to be granted where there is not universal support for that” among the involved parties.

And while voters angry that they initiative they approved has not gone into effect as it was originally supposed to on Dec. 5, Kimball warned that refusing to renew tabs as a protest move will not get you out of a ticket.

“The current law is, legally, they have to be paid,” he said.

The case will likely go to the Washington State Court of Appeals next. Because it is a state matter, there is no chance of going the federal court route.

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from 12-3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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