Eyman putting his latest fight on his tab

Activist using own money in signature-gathering drive to place a $30 car tab measure in front of voters

  • Wednesday, May 9, 2018 4:16pm
  • Opinion

Tim Eyman is so convinced his latest initiative attack on car tabs is a winner, he’s tapping the one source of money he can count on these days to finance the effort – his own.

Eyman said he is draining $500,000 from an investment account earmarked for retirement and using it to hire a professional signature-gathering firm to help get the proposed $30 car tab measure in front of voters. Details were to appear in reports to be filed Thursday, May 10 with the state Public Disclosure Commission.

“It’s an absolute risk,” he said. “I am willing to risk a half-million dollars that this will deliver the tax relief it promises.”

Dramatic or desperate — depending on one’s perspective – the move is tacit recognition the initiative industrial complex constructed by Eyman the past two decades has crumbled.

There is no longer a bevy of anti-tax, anti-government capitalists on which he can rely to underwrite these annual ventures. Absent this sturdy financial foundation, he must get a bunch more of his loyal followers to write checks for a bunch more than $50 to succeed.

It didn’t happen in 2016 or 2017 and, as a result, Eyman-backed initiatives to reduce car tabs didn’t come close to qualifying for the ballot.

And at the start of April, when Eyman announced signature-gathering had begun for Initiative 976, the landscape looked eerily familiar.

On the policy side, he is once again pushing a measure to lower car tab fees on passenger vehicles to $30 and eliminate the voter-approved motor vehicle excise tax collected by Sound Transit. The proposed initiative also would get rid of weight fees imposed by the state and vehicle fees charged by cities for what are known as Transportation Benefit Districts.

On the money side, it again looked bleak. Voters Want More Choices, the political committee through which this and all Eyman initiative campaigns are funded, reported having only about $30,000 in the bank. It takes around $1 million these days to qualify an initiative.

Eyman said he loaned $100,000 to the committee in April and will put in another $150,000 in May. The remaining $250,000 will be funneled to the political committee’s coffers in coming months as needed, he said.

Ultimately, he said in an interview and email to supporters, it will take another half-million dollars to pay professionals to round up the 259,622 voter signatures required to qualify.

“I got them out there,” he said. “But we need to raise more to keep them out there.”

Interestingly, Citizen Solutions is the company hired to get signatures for I-976. Eyman and the firm are locked in a legal battle with Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who has accused them of politically corrupt acts when they teamed up on two initiatives in 2012.

Eyman faces civil charges of secretly moving funds between the two campaigns and receiving $308,000 in kickbacks from Citizen Solutions. Eyman denies wrongdoing and the case could go to trial this fall.

Meanwhile, Eyman is pushing two initiatives this year as well. His second one would make state lawmakers subject to Washington’s public records law.

He insisted his energy — and his money — is all directed toward the car tab measure. Because it is an initiative to the Legislature, he has until Jan. 4, 2019 to get signatures. If successful, it would wind up on the ballot in November 2019.

“I’ve got faith supporters will be there to raise the additional funds.” he said. “I’ve got faith voters will pass it. I’ve got faith it is crafted well enough to deliver promised savings.”

He’s betting a bit of his future on it.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald net.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.

More in Opinion

What’s really going on at King County Solid Waste?

Deliberate misrepresentation of facts and opportunities?

Avoiding trouble tweeting

Think hard before posting an angry, irresponsible or accusatory message

Even with postage paid, voters couldn’t send ballots on time

While those ballots don’t get counted, taxpayers still must pay the Postal Service for delivering them

Living in an era when emotions, opinions outweigh facts

“In this era of post-truth politics, it’s easy to cherry-pick data and… Continue reading

Move forward on water quality standards

In an unfortunate reversal, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has decided to… Continue reading

Lampson beating odds for family-owned businesses

They are the backbone of the American economy

Trade wars hit state’s cherry growers hard | Brunell

Hopefully, the trade dispute will be resolved before the apple and wheat harvest are completed this fall

High court to decide fate of gun control ballot measure

The fate of a sweeping gun control ballot measure is in the… Continue reading

Back to school and back to basics for recycling

The season of freshly sharpened pencils, new backpacks and crisp sneakers is… Continue reading

Will Trump trip help GOP’s congressional races?

Expect mega money to be spent on campaigns in the next three months

Tribes support sea lion removal legislation

Federal legislation allowing lethal removal of more sea lions in the lower… Continue reading