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Tim Eyman ordered to pay $2.9 million to cover Washington attorney general’s legal costs

UPDATED: Fri., April 16, 2021

Initiative promoter Tim Eyman gestures as he talks to reporters Oct. 15 in front of the Temple of Justice at the Capitol in Olympia.  (Associated Press)
Initiative promoter Tim Eyman gestures as he talks to reporters Oct. 15 in front of the Temple of Justice at the Capitol in Olympia. (Associated Press)
By David Gutman Seattle Times

Tim Eyman must pay nearly $2.9 million to cover the legal fees and costs of Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s nearly four-year lawsuit against Eyman for campaign finance violations, a Thurston County Superior Court judge ruled Friday.

That sum is on top of the $2.6 million civil penalty that the judge, Judge James Dixon, previously imposed on Eyman for years of campaign finance violations that he called “numerous and particularly egregious” and which Eyman used to enrich himself.

In granting the legal fees, Dixon hands a near-total victory to Ferguson in his long-running case against Eyman, the state’s best-known initiative promoter and conservative activist.

Eyman was charged with, and found liable for, laundering political donations to enrich himself, accepting kickbacks from a signature-gathering firm, secretly shuttling money between initiative campaigns, and concealing the source of other political contributions.

In the history of Washington state’s campaign finance law, Dixon wrote, “it would be difficult for the Court to conceive of a case with misconduct that is more egregious or more extensive.”

Dixon had previously granted an injunction, sought by Ferguson, that permanently forbids Eyman from controlling the finances of any political committee. Eyman had long argued that such a sentence would be a death blow to his career as a political activist. But after the verdict was handed down, he backtracked, saying he would change some paperwork on his political committee, but the “the rest will remain the same.”

Now Dixon has granted Ferguson the additional compensation he’d sought, ordering Eyman to pay the attorney general’s legal fees.

“Tim Eyman broke the law – repeatedly – and in order to delay his day of reckoning, he willfully dragged out this case with frivolous and cost-inflating litigation tactics,” Ferguson said. “This decision ensures that Tim Eyman bears the cost of his years-long obstruction of our case – not the taxpayers.”

Before the trial, which concluded earlier this year, Eyman was twice held in contempt for more than two years for refusing to comply with court orders.

In response to a request for comment Friday, Eyman forwarded a fundraising email.

“Bob Ferguson is a cowardly bully,” he wrote. “Using unlimited government resources going after political adversaries is easy. I choose to challenge the powerful.”

Eyman will spend years paying off the fines and fees. He has been on a court-approved payment plan for more than a year. He pays $10,000 to the state on the fifth of each month, a sum that will rise to $13,500 next year and continue for the foreseeable future.

In total, seven lawyers and staff spent 9,899.71 hours on the Eyman case, Ferguson said in court filings. That’s the equivalent of about 413 24-hour days, or 13.5 months. They billed at hourly rates ranging from $123 to $408.

The case contains nearly 1,600 docket entries, and the state had to file or respond to more than 160 motions in six different courts. Nearly 100 of those required oral arguments.

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