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Opinion >  Editorial

Editorial: Allegations Eyman broke finance laws troubling

Initiative entrepreneur Tim Eyman is in trouble again with the Public Disclosure Commission, facing serious allegations that he broke campaign finance laws by diverting some funds for personal use and not properly recording transactions.

PDC investigators put together a thorough and damning 224-page document and sent it to the state attorney general’s office for possible action. The report culminated a three-year review of allegations leveled by Sherry Bockwinkel, an initiative consultant and former Eyman ally.

The PDC said it is limited in the penalties it can impose and that the allegations were of such seriousness that the attorney general should look into them. The attorney general’s office recently went to court to shake loose bank records requested by the PDC.

“Anybody who would give him money after this would have to have his head examined,” Bockwinkel told the Seattle Times.

Nonetheless, Eyman sent out a mass email Tuesday seeking more cash from supporters to tout his latest effort, Initiative 1366. He made no mention of the headlines he made the very same day.

This isn’t Eyman’s first run-in with campaign finance laws, and that’s what makes this all the more troubling.

In 2002, he made an emotional admission that he pocketed more than $200,000 in campaign donations while publicly denying it. The state investigated, and Eyman ended up paying $55,000 in fines and was banned for life from serving as a political campaign treasurer.

“I have reaped the whirlwind for choosing the wrong path,” he wrote in an apology to supporters. A supporter at the time said, “I think he’s learned his lesson.”

Perhaps not.

The allegations suggest Eyman wove an elaborate deception to elude state laws and to dupe some of his allies. That’s actually good news for Spokane City Councilman Mike Fagan, who, along with his father, is partners with Eyman in Voters Want More Choices, a political action committee. The report indicates Eyman kept his partners out of the loop on the alleged shenanigans.

In 2012, Voters Want More Choices paid Citizen Solutions more than $623,000 to collect signatures for Initiative 1185. For every signature the clipboard carriers gathered, they got up to $1.40, the PDC reported. Citizen Solutions got at least $2.10.

Then, as this newspaper reported: “Citizen Solutions paid Eyman about $308,000 for ‘consulting’ work, which was deposited in a separate company called Tim Eyman, Watchdog for Taxpayers LLC. Eyman told investigators he used some of that money for ‘personal family living expenses’ and later loaned the rest, interest free, to Citizens in Charge, a conservative Virginia group. Citizens in Charge then funneled at least some of the money back into efforts to get signatures for a different ballot measure, Initiative 517.”

If Eyman is found guilty of these charges, he should forever be banished from initiative campaigns.

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