Tim Eyman files for bankruptcy

Tim Eyman, the rightwing agitator who grew his promotion of Washington tax-cutting initiatives into a lucrative business empire, filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday, and asserted the financial burden of his legal fights are also forcing him to divorce his wife of 25 years. (Read story here.)

Both filings appear to be purely tactical moves to protect his considerable assets.

The state attorney general is pursuing political corruption charges against Eyman, and he also faces court sanctions for allegedly not complying with court orders to turn over evidence of his financial dealings. Eyman has long been accused of siphoning initiative campaign funds into his own pocket. Wikipedia states, “In February 2002 the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported that Eyman paid himself $165,000 from campaign donations, while claiming to be working for free. Eyman initially denied receiving payments, but later admitted wrongdoing. The Washington State Public Disclosure commission … charged Eyman with diverting $233,000 from his initiative campaigns, and Eyman eventually settled …” (source).

In Wednesday’s bankruptcy filing, Eyman reported assets of $2 million and liabilities of $3.2 million, the latter consisting entirely of legal fees owed ($77,000) and the attorney general’s legal claims against him. Eyman reported receiving over $42,000 of “average monthly income” (about $500,000 a year) since May 1, 2018.

While some of Eyman’s initiatives were popular with voters, few survived court challenges. Eyman, formerly a watch salesman, launched his initiative career in 1998 with I-200, which prohibited affirmative action in public employment, education, and contracting. Two years later, in 2000, he successfully promoted an initiative to limit the state’s car license fee to $30. It was struck down by the courts, but the legislature deferred to voters’ wishes by legislating the cap, which cut off a major source of revenue to county and city governments. It didn’t stick; over time, car license fees crept up, prompting another Eyman initiative to cap them at $30 in 2007, but that one failed to qualify for the ballot. Since then, car owners in the Puget Sound region have seen their car license fees soar to help fund a voter-approved $54 billion light rail project.

In 2006, Eyman was the target of a counter-initiative by liberal blogger and talk-show host David Goldstein, who sought to have Eyman officially declared “a horse’s ass.” Then state attorney general Christine Gregoire, who later became governor, went to court to keep Goldstein’s initiative off the ballot. Two years earlier, in 2004, Goldstein founded his blog, named after Eyman, for the purpose of attacking Eyman’s initiatives. The blog, which gained national attention in 2005 for bringing down President George W. Bush’s FEMA director in the aftermath of the botched response to Hurricane Katrina, survives today and is known for its uncensored, vulgar, and vituperative reader comments, colloquially known as “the cesspool.” (Link here.)

Photo: Tim Eyman tilting against windmills in 2017


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