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Spin Control: Eyman’s suit falls flat

In this Jan. 21, 2016 file photo, Tim Eyman speaks with reporters after hearing that a judge struck down his latest tax-limiting measure in Olympia, Wash. (Elaine Thompson / AP)
In this Jan. 21, 2016 file photo, Tim Eyman speaks with reporters after hearing that a judge struck down his latest tax-limiting measure in Olympia, Wash. (Elaine Thompson / AP)

While much of the Northwest was trying on eclipse glasses and peeking carefully at the sun Monday morning, initiative entrepreneur Tim Eyman was trying to convince a judge that voters need more items on the November ballot that the Legislature can ignore.

Eyman is unhappy with a decision by the state attorney general’s office that a package of tax increases the Legislature passed in the late, great, triple OT session needs but a single repeal or maintain box on the ballot. Because there are three taxes mentioned, he contends voter should weigh in on three separate items.

While not an attorney – he’s spent quite a bit of time in court, but that does not bestow a legal education any more than multiple trips to the Emergency Room make one a doctor – Eyman could claim to be the greatest expert on this particular law because it’s one of the initiatives he managed to get passed.

So he represented himself in front of Thurston County Superior Court Judge Chris Lanese in his request for a court order forcing multiple items on the ballot. Ruling that Eyman hadn’t made the request soon enough, Lanese said no dice.

Eyman has decided to appeal to the Washington Supreme Court, although it appears he’s learned at least one thing from his time in court Monday: there’s some truth to the old adage that an attorney who represents himself has a fool for a client. He hired an actual lawyer, Stephen Pidgeon, who might welcome a chance to take on Attorney General Bob Ferguson, considering they both ran for AG in 2012 but Pidgeon didn’t survive the primary.

Even if the high court agrees to listen to arguments, the end result likely will be the same whether the justices keep it as a single ballot item or divide it into three parts.

Of the 15 statewide tax advisory measures on ballots since 2012, voters have said repeal eight, some by nearly 2-to-1. Number the Legislature has repealed? Zero.

Number the Legislature has even reconsidered enough to put to a vote post-election? Zip.

Time running out for Tim

Eyman sent out an email Thursday that seems to take credit for placing a hold on the printing of general election ballots. At least, that’s what one would logically conclude from the subject line: “My lawsuit has frozen printing of ballots.”

As evidence, Eyman attaches copies of the weekly newsletter the state elections office sends out county officials. It’s true that in the Aug. 9 edition, the state told county elections officials that Eyman had filed his lawsuit and said to prepare ballots but not send them to a printer until there’s a decision on the lawsuit. A week later they offered an update, adding they expected a decision within a week, and not to print a decision until then.

But there was a decision on Monday, Erich Ebel, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office said. The case was thrown out.

“His recent email to supporters seems to imply that our office has recommended not printing until the entire issue is resolved,” Ebel said. Not quite, he said.

Counties are waiting until Sept. 1, but if it’s still hanging fire by then, the ones that have lots of ballots to print may not be able to wait, Ebel added.

A problem for Eyman is that the Supreme Court isn’t in next week. Their fall session doesn’t start until Sept. 5.

If anyone wonders why Eyman seems to be making a bigger deal out of this than is warranted, they need look no farther than the bottom of the email which goes into great detail about his righteous fight against the attorney general’s office, complete with a YouTube link to the day in court for the self-described Tim “Perry Mason” Eyman. (Note to readers who didn’t grow up with black-and-white television: Perry Mason didn’t lose cases.)

That’s where he includes his standard pitch for donations, which can be made by credit card or PayPal.