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Friday, October 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control: Friday 13th was bad for Tim Eyman

Initiative activist Tim Eyman appears in Thurston County Superior Court, Friday, Feb. 22, 2019, in Olympia. (Ted S. Warren / AP)
Initiative activist Tim Eyman appears in Thurston County Superior Court, Friday, Feb. 22, 2019, in Olympia. (Ted S. Warren / AP)

If initiative entrepreneur Tim Eyman hasn’t previously put any credence in warnings about Friday the 13th, he might want to start.

On Friday his long-running legal war with the state Attorney General’s Office suffered what seems to be a significant defeat in Thurston County Superior Court, when Judge James Dixon ruled some $766,000 in payments that Eyman claimed were gifts were actually contributions to his various initiative campaign efforts from 2012 to 2018.

This is a distinction that makes a big difference. Contributions have to be reported to the Public Disclosure Commission; gifts do not. Not reporting contributions can result in fines and other sanctions.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson said the state “can and will seek additional penalties for every day he fails to report them.”

Dixon agreed to impose nonmonetary sanctions, but his order acknowledges Eyman is already being held in contempt for failing to provide documents from a previous order and already has racked up more than $200,000 in sanctions for that failure.

Although not a lawyer, Eyman is acting as his own attorney in this legal battle. But he’s probably been in and out of court enough to anticipate correctly that things were going to go badly for him. Even before Dixon handed down his ruling, he sent out an appeal to his extensive email list used for drumming up financial help. “Please help me survive (Ferguson’s) political jihad against me and my family,” it said.

If anyone falls for that line, it seems Eyman would be wise to list any money that comes in as contributions, just to be on the safe side.

Down the ballot

Speaking of Eyman, voters who get their general election ballots next month and wonder why they have to wade through a dozen “advisory votes” to mark their choice for mayor or city council will have him to thank.

Because of I-960, one of his past productions approved in 2007, advisory votes are required whenever the Legislature raises taxes. In the 2019 session, they made a dozen changes in tax law from setting up a system to help pay for long-term care to helping rural development to revising the real estate excise tax (which lowers that tax for many people but raises it for others) to higher business and occupation taxes for some professions.

All are going on the ballot, and state law puts statewide measures ahead of local elections. This is more advisory votes than ever before, but if history is any guide, regardless of whether they pass or fail, the Legislature will spend absolutely no time heeding that “advice.”

Is that the ticket?

Sept. 24 is National Voter Registration Day, and various civic-minded organizations are coming up with ideas on how to sign people up.

One has to wonder, however, about a proposal by Common Cause to attract what it says would be thousands of new voters by adding registration information to the back of lottery tickets. I bet someone in Vegas could give odds that it would be more like a dozen.

First of all, lottery tickets are so small that anything that is printed on the back of them would require a magnifying glass for most people to read.

Second, when a person picks a series of nonwinning numbers or scrapes the rubbery gunk off a scratch ticket and gets no matches, they are probably more likely to tear it into little bits than to think “Let’s turn this over and see what’s on the back.”

Third, if it’s a winning ticket, their eyes are going to be glued on the front, and not care a bit what’s on the back.

A bit late

Naghmana Sherazi might have been surprised to discover this week she was being endorsed for a Spokane City Council seat by the Alliance for Gun Responsibility when it released its candidate list for the November election.

Sherazi won’t be on the November ballot after finishing third in the August primary.

Kristen Ellingboe, communications manager for the alliance, said Sherazi was on the list of candidates the group planned to endorse for the general, but apparently no one double-checked to make sure she made it through the primary before the list was sent to the designer who posted it on the website and included it in the news release.

“We just missed the results,” Ellingboe said when contacted about the mistake.

That list includes three Spokane Public Schools board candidates – Nikki Lockwood, Jenny Slagle and Erin Georgen – who did make it through the primary. The staff double-checked and Sherazi was the only person on the list who isn’t in the general.

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