Tim Eyman

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Timothy Donald Eyman (born December 22, 1965)[1] is a conservative political activist in the U.S. state of Washington. He advocates for a smaller state government through lowering state taxes and fees. Among his 20 initiatives and one referendum, 10 were passed by voters (of which 6 were later deemed unconstitutional), and 11 failed or were voted out. Since 2017 he has been fighting a lawsuit from the State Attorney General alleging mis-use of political funds and failing to report political donations. [2]



Before 2006[edit]

Eyman's work on Initiative 695 in 2000 ($30 Car Tabs) was recognized by the Conservative Political Action Conference with its Ronald Reagan Award.[3]

In February 2002 the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported that Eyman paid himself $165,000 from campaign donations, while claiming to be working for free.[4] Eyman initially denied receiving payments, but later admitted wrongdoing.[5] The Washington State Public Disclosure Commission, the state equivalent of the Federal Elections Commission charged Eyman with diverting $233,000 from his initiative campaigns. [6] and Eyman eventually settled with the Washington State Attorney General's office, paying $50,000 and accepting a lifetime ban on involvement in any political committee's financial accounts.[7] [8] Since the settlement, Eyman's co-sponsors and chairmen in his Permanent Offense political committee became more actively involved; Monte Benham of Kennewick became the head of Permanent Offense, though Eyman remained involved politically.


On January 30, Eyman filed an initiative and a referendum, both intended to repeal a measure which added sexual orientation to the list of categories against which discrimination in housing, lending, and employment is banned in the state of Washington. Supporters of the initiative argued the law it was attempting to repeal did nothing more than give preferential treatment to certain groups. In addition to seeking to remove "sexual orientation" from the law, Eyman pushed an initiative that would prohibit state government from requiring quotas or other preferential treatment for any person or group "based on sexual orientation or sexual preference". Eyman had announced he would be turning in the signatures for the gay-rights referendum on June 5. Instead, he showed up at the State Capitol dressed as Darth Vader and then announced he would turn in petitions the next day, at the deadline. He reportedly wasn't carrying any of the signatures, but instead was carrying signed petitions for another car-tab measure unrelated to the referendum. The next day, June 6, Eyman announced he had fallen more than 7,000 signatures short of the 112,440 required to get the measure placed on the November ballot. The state law that he had attempted to put to a public vote took effect on the same day.[9]

On January 9, Eyman filed an initiative to cap motor vehicle registration charges at $30 per year and repeal taxes and fees exceeding the $30 limit. On June 29, Eyman submitted 14,270 pages of signatures for this initiative to the Secretary of State's office. On July 7, Eyman submitted an additional 2,716 pages. While at the front desk, and prior to the counting of any signatures, Eyman requested that the receptionist date stamp a piece of note pad with the number 300,353 on it.[10]

On July 23 Eyman charged the Secretary of State's office with "... gross incompetence, purposeful sabotage, or blatant dishonesty" for the discrepancy of 34,347 signatures.[11] Along with the "receipt" with the number 300,353, Eyman claimed to have kept weekly logs of the number of signatures collected, and wrote the weight (although not the number of pages or signatures) of each box of petitions on the boxes themselves. The Secretary of State's office could not provide the boxes, as they were recycled upon the cataloging of the signatures. It also denied the credibility of Eyman's receipt, noting that official counting had not even begun at that point, and calling attention to their own official receipts.[12] Eyman has been completely unable to substantiate his claim of submitting 300,353 signatures, as he claims to have not made copies of the petitions. On July 28, the Secretary of State's office announced that it had conducted a random sample test of 4% of the signatures, finding an invalidation rate of 17.96%.[13] Based upon this number, the initiative failed to make the ballot. A full check of all signatures collected confirmed this conclusion.

In August 2006 a Thurston County judge blocked a tongue-in-cheek initiative (I-831)[14] proposed by Seattle-area computer programmer and blogger David Goldstein that would have allowed voters to criticize - or support - Tim Eyman by declaring, "The citizens of the state of Washington do hereby proclaim that Tim Eyman is a horse's ass.".[15]


In 2007, Eyman spearheaded Initiative 960, intending to make it harder for the Legislature to raise taxes and fees.[16]


In 2008, Eyman sponsored I-985, which attempted to reduce traffic congestion through various means including:

  • Opening HOV/carpool lanes to all vehicles during non-peak hours, where "non-peak" is defined as any time outside of 6-9am and 3-6pm on Mondays through Fridays.
  • Requiring local governments to synchronize traffic lights on heavily-traveled arterials and streets.
  • Clearing out accidents faster with expanded emergency roadside assistance, which would be funded by vehicle sales tax revenues.
  • Restricting toll usage such that they can only be used on the freeway or bridge being tolled, with any surplus revenue to be redirected to other congestion relief efforts in the state.

Eyman submitted approximately 290,000 signatures to get the initiative on the ballot for the 2008 general election.[17] The initiative claims to follow the recommendations of a congestion study by state auditor Brian Sonntag, but former state transportation secretary Doug MacDonald stated that there is "no connection" between the study's findings and the initiative's goals.[18] Auditor Sonntag himself directly refuted the claim that I-985 implements the recommendations of the state congestion audit.[19]

Critics argued that opening HOV lanes to more cars would not reduce congestion, and in fact would likely cause worse congestion since rush-hour traffic typically lasts longer than 3 hours each morning and night during weekdays.[20] I-985 would also have stalled funding for the replacement of the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge, since the bridge's construction is currently dependent on tolls that will come from both the current bridge and the I-90 floating bridge. Since both bridges cross Lake Washington, requiring tolls on only one bridge would serve only to push traffic to the other.[20] The initiative also directed no funding toward mass transit, counteracting the desired goals of the revised Proposition 1, which sought funding for expansion of light rail, commuter trains, and bus service in the Puget Sound region.[21] Proponents of I-985 pointed out that highways I-405 and SR 167 have opened their HOV lanes during non peak hours without any noticeable problems.[citation needed]

The initiative was defeated 60% to 40% with only one of the state's 39 counties approving the initiative.[22]


In 2009, Eyman sponsored I-1033, which would apply a cap on revenue tied to the consumer price index and population.[23] The bill is similar to TABOR which was enacted in 1992, and then placed on a five-year timeout in 2005 by referendum, in Colorado. The initiative was rejected by voters.


Eyman sponsored 25 initiatives for 2012, of which only Initiative 1185 made it onto the November general ballot.[24] It passed with 63.91% of the vote.[25] Approximately 95% of the money to support the initiative is reportedly from "corporate behemoths such as oil companies ... the national beer and soda-pop industries and big pharmaceutical firms."[26]


Eyman filed Initiative 517 on April 15, 2012, to "set penalties for interfering with signature-gatherers or signers."[27] It was referred to 2013 session of legislature, which declined to pass it, sending it to the general election for November 5, 2013. Among those opposing I-517 were former Republican Attorney General of Washington, Rob McKenna, publishing on smartergovernmentwa.org:

Former Republican Attorney General of Washington, Rob McKenna, urging a NO vote on I-517:[28]

I-517, the "initiative on initiatives," would lengthen the amount of time initiative organizers have to gather signatures and require access to public buildings and certain pieces of private property for signature gatherers to solicit signatures.
The initiative and referendum system is one of our most important democratic tools and the right of the people to petition their government should be robustly protected. While I-517 has some positive aspects, it goes too far and its impositions on private property owners will likely be struck down by the courts.[29]

I-517 was also opposed by Seattle Times [30] [31] , The Columbian newspaper ,[32] The Wenatchee World ,[33] The Everett Herald ,[34] The Olympian ,[35] Washington Research Council ,[36] The News Tribune [37] ,[38] Northwest Progressive Institute ,[39] Seattle Seahawks ,[40] Seattle Sounders FC [40] , Washington State Democratic Party [41] and many local Democratic organizations.[42][43]

The initiative lost by a margin of 63%-37%.[44]


In March 2017, The Washington State Attorney General sued Eyman for $2.1M accusing Eyman of enriching himself with money donated to initiative campaigns. [45] The lawsuit stems from a 2015 investigation by the Public Disclosure Commission into Eyman's use of donations to different initiative campaigns. [46]


On March 15, 2018, Eyman introduced two referendum measures with the intent to put all or portions of a recently passed law EHB2957 that effectively phases out non-native finfish aquaculture to a public vote[47]. Eyman withdrew both referendum measures after Cooke Aquaculture, the only company farming nonnative Atlantic salmon in Washington, made it clear they did not want to be associated with his referendum campaign[48].

From Joel Richardson, Vice President of Public Affairs for Cooke Aquaculture, on the company's involvement with the campaign--

Our company had no affiliation with this individual... Our efforts remain focused on exploring operational options which are helpful and respectful to our employees, tribal, state and community partner.

In November 2018 Eyman filed for bankruptcy[49], blaming expenses from his ongoing defense in the state lawsuit.


On February 13th 2019, Eyman removed a $70 office chair from an Office Depot in Lacey.[50][51] On February 19th The Lacey City Prosecutor filed one count of theft against Eyman related to the incident. Through his attorney, Eyman released a statement that the incident was an honest mistake, caused by his being distracted by telephone call when he returned to the store to pay for services and merchandise.[52]

Initiatives and outcomes[edit]

Initiative Year Purpose Result
I-200 1998 Prohibit affirmative action in public employment, education and contracting.[53] Passed by voters with 58%.
I-695 1999 Cut the state motor vehicle excise tax (the yearly car tabs) and required voter approval for all tax increases.[54] Passed by voters with 56% but declared unconstitutional.
I-722 2000 Cut state and local property taxes.[55] Passed by voters but declared unconstitutional.
I-745 2000 Required 90% of transportation funding to be spent on road building.[56] Defeated by voters with 59% opposing it.[57]
I-747 2001 Cut state and local property taxes.[58] Passed by voters but declared unconstitutional in Superior Court and Supreme Court;[59]
I-776 2002 Cut local motor vehicle excise taxes.[60] Passed by voters but overturned as unconstitutional.[61]
I-267 2002 Divert money from the general fund for road building.[62] Failed to qualify for ballot.
I-807 2003 Require a supermajority vote for all tax increases.[63] Failed to qualify for ballot.
I-864 2003 Cut property taxes by 25%.[64] Failed to qualify for ballot.
I-18 2003 Reduce size of King County Council from 13 to 9 members Passed by voters.
I-892 2004 Legalize slot machines.[65] Defeated by voters with 62% opposed.[66]
I-900 2004 Give state auditor ability to conduct performance audits.[67] Passed by voters.
Referendum 65 2006 Repeal ESHB 2661, legalizing discrimination based on sexual orientation.[68] Failed to qualify for ballot.
I-917 2006 Cap motor vehicle registration charge at $30 a year.[69] Failed to qualify for ballot.
I-960 2007 Require a 2/3 majority in state Legislature to raise taxes and fees.[70] Passed by voters. Overridden/Repealed by legislature in 2010.
I-985 2008 Attempts to reduce vehicular traffic congestion through the elimination of car-pool lanes and mandatory signal timing across the entire state, among other means.[71] Defeated by voters with 60% opposed.[72]
I-1033 2009 Applies an inflation and population tied cap to tax revenue.[73] Defeated by voters with 55% opposed.[74]
I-1053 2010 Reinstates 2/3 Legislature majority requirement set by I-960 (which was Overridden/Repealed in early 2010).[75] Passed by voters but declared unconstitutional.[76]
I-1125 2011 Restricts toll rate increases and the means by which toll revenue is spent.[77] Defeated by voters with 53% opposed.[78]
I-1185 2012 Reinstates 2/3 statutory requirement for new or increased fees.[79] Passed by voters with 64%.[80] Declared unconstitutional[81]
I-517 2012 Increase time for signature gathering from ten to sixteen months prior to an election. Provide unlimited access to - and legal protection for - signature gathering on public sidewalks and walkways and all sidewalks and walkways that carry pedestrian traffic, including those in front of the entrances and exits of any store, and inside or outside public buildings such as public sports stadiums, convention/exhibition centers, and public fairs. Set penalties for interfering with signature-gatherers or signers.[27] Defeated by voters with over 62% opposed.[82]
Referendum Measures No. 78 & No. 79 2018 Bring EHB2957 a bill to phase out Atlantic salmon net pens in Washington to a public vote Withdrawn[83]
I-976 2019 Cut all car-tab taxes in the state to a $30 flat fee.[84] appears on November 5, 2019 ballot

Personal life[edit]

A native of Yakima, Washington, Eyman currently lives in Mukilteo.[85][86]

In 2018 the strain from escalating litigation lead Eyman to filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and contributed to Eyman's divorce.[87]


  1. ^ Joseph Turner (February 10, 2002). "Oversize ego that made Eyman a star also set up his fall". The News Tribune.
  2. ^ Jerry Cornfield. "AG's legal tab in Eyman case nears $1M with trial a year away". Seattle Weekly.
  3. ^ "Conservatives honor Eyman". Seattle Times. January 27, 2000. Retrieved August 29, 2011.
  4. ^ Seattle P-I Article February 1, 2002 http://www.seattlepi.com/local/56707_eyman01.shtml
  5. ^ "Anti-Tax Leader Confesses He Used Campaign Money". The New York Times. February 5, 2002.
  6. ^ Seattle P-I Article April 6, 2002 http://www.seattlepi.com/local/65555_eyman06.shtml
  7. ^ "State Reaches Settlement with Eyman and Permanent Offense". Atg.wa.gov. August 12, 2002. Retrieved August 29, 2011.
  8. ^ Seattle P-I Article August 14, 2002 http://www.seattlepi.com/opinion/82474_eymaned.shtml
  9. ^ Roesler, Richard (June 6, 2006). "Judge tosses out Eyman property tax initiative". Spokane Spokesman Review. Retrieved April 12, 2008.
  10. ^ "Washington Secretary of State website". Retrieved August 29, 2011.
  11. ^ "Eyman Blisters Elections Office; Secretary Of State Fires Back". KOMO News. August 31, 2006. Retrieved August 29, 2011.
  12. ^ "Official receipt given to Mr Eyman for his I917 petitions" (PDF). Retrieved April 12, 2008.
  13. ^ "News Release: Office of Secretary of State to conduct a full signature check on Initiative 917" (Press release). July 28, 2006. Retrieved April 12, 2008.
  14. ^ "Washington Initiative 831" (PDF).
  15. ^ "Love Him Or Hate Him, But Is Tim Eyman A 'Horse's Ass?'". KOMO News. August 31, 2006. Retrieved July 21, 2016.
  16. ^ Taxes? Fees? I-960 rattles Olympia (accessed: June 30, 2008)
  17. ^ [1] Archived June 17, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ "I-985 often shuns traffic audit." The Olympian. August 24, 2008.
  19. ^ "Auditor Brian Sonntag is neutral on I-985, congestion measure". The News Tribune. October 9, 2008.
  20. ^ a b "ACEC Washington Endorses Proposition 1 and Opposes Initiative 985." American Council of Engineering Companies of Washington. September 17, 2008.
  21. ^ "Stop I-985…before It Stops You!" Sierra Club, Cascade Chapter. August 14, 2008.
  22. ^ "Eyman says he'll be back next year with new initiative." Seattle Times. November 6, 2008.
  23. ^ "Washington Initiative 1033 (2009)". Ballotpedia.
  24. ^ Reed, Sam (2012). "Proposed Initiatives to the People, 2012". Washington Secretary of State. Retrieved August 28, 2012.
  25. ^ Reed, Sam (November 27, 2012). "Initiative Measure No. 1185 Election Results" (HTML). Washington State Secretary of State. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  26. ^ Westneat, Danny (August 21, 2012). "Out-of-state money chooses what we vote on". The Seattle Times. Retrieved August 24, 2012.
  27. ^ a b "Text of Initiative Measure 517, filed April 5, 2012" (PDF). Washington State Secretary of State. April 5, 2012. Retrieved March 15, 2012.
  28. ^ "Rob McKenna - Rob is urging a no vote on both initiatives.... - Facebook". facebook.com.
  29. ^ "I'm Voting No On Both Initiatives". Smarter Government Washington. October 17, 2013.
  30. ^ "Editorial: Vote no on Initiative 517". Opinion. Seattle Times. October 7, 2013.
  31. ^ "I-517 is flawed measure on initiatives and should be defeated". Opinion. Seattle Times. October 5, 2013.
  32. ^ Columbian Editorial Board (October 11, 2013). "In Our View: Initiative 517 Goes Too Far: It would extend rights of initiative signature gatherers at expense of public". Opinion. The Columbian. Retrieved October 13, 2013.
  33. ^ "No pedestal due; no on I-517". Opinion. Wenatchee World. October 18, 2013.
  34. ^ "Vote no on Eyman's I-517". Opinion. Everett Herald. October 15, 2013.
  35. ^ "I-517 creates new problems; initiative process working". Opinion. The Olympian. October 10, 2013.
  36. ^ "Policy Brief – I-517: Infringing Property Rights and Enshrining a New Protected Class" (PDF). Opinion. The Washington Research Council. October 10, 2013.
  37. ^ "I-517's protections aren't needed, go too far". Opinion. News Tribune. October 4, 2013.
  38. ^ "The News Tribune shines a spotlight on Tim Eyman's secret campaign to qualify I-517". Opinion. nwprogressive.org]. September 8, 2012.
  39. ^ "Stop Tim Eyman's Profit Machine. No On I-517" (PDF).
  40. ^ a b "Voters will weigh in on 'initiative on initiatives'". News.
  41. ^ "Washington State Democrats Vote to Oppose Eyman's I-517". News.
  42. ^ "Vote NO on Tim Eyman's Self-Serving Initiative".
  43. ^ "Organizations Opposing 517".
  44. ^ "Washington". ballotpedia.org.
  45. ^ State of Washington vs Tim Eyman (March 31, 2017). Text
  46. ^ O’Sullivan, Joseph (March 31, 2017). "AG sues Tim Eyman for $2M, says he profited from campaigns". The Seattle Times. Retrieved December 15, 2018.
  47. ^ 40229Olympia, Contact Us Washington Secretary of StateElections Division520 Union Ave SEPO Box; Policy, WA 98504-0229902-4180 Privacy. "Proposed Referendum Measures - Elections & Voting - WA Secretary of State". Retrieved March 24, 2018.
  48. ^ "Tim Eyman withdraws referendums seeking vote on Atlantic salmon net-pen ban". The Seattle Times. March 23, 2018. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
  49. ^ Template:Cite title=Tax protester Tim Eyman files for bankruptcy as legal troubles persist
  50. ^ "Tim Eyman under investigation in theft of $70 chair from Office Depot". The Seattle Times. February 15, 2019. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  51. ^ "Tim Eyman under investigation in chair theft". Seattle Times. Retrieved February 15, 2019.
  52. ^ "Tim Eyman charged with misdemeanor theft; attorneys call chair's removal from store an accident". Seattle Times. Retrieved April 5, 2019.
  53. ^ "Text of Initiative 200 (1998)".
  54. ^ "Text of Initiative 695(1998)" (PDF).
  55. ^ "Text of Initiative 722(1999)" (PDF).
  56. ^ "Text of Initiative 745(2000)" (PDF).
  57. ^ "Washington Initiative 745 (2000)".
  58. ^ "Text of Initiative 747(2001)" (PDF).
  59. ^ Susan Gilmore (November 8, 2007). "Eyman initiative ruled unconstitutional". Seattle Times. Retrieved November 8, 2007.
  60. ^ "Text of Initiative 776(2002)" (PDF).
  61. ^ Neil Modie (February 10, 2003). "Initiative 776 overturned". Seattle PI.
  62. ^ "Text of Initiative 267(2002)" (PDF).
  63. ^ "Text of Initiative 807(2003)" (PDF).
  64. ^ "Text of Initiative 864(2003)" (PDF).
  65. ^ "Text of Initiative 892(2004)" (PDF).
  66. ^ "Washington Non-Tribal Gambling Establishments, Initiative 892".
  67. ^ "Text of Initiative 900(2004)" (PDF).
  68. ^ "Text of Referendum 65(2006)" (PDF).
  69. ^ "Text of Initiative 917(2006)" (PDF).
  70. ^ "Text of Initiative 960(2007)" (PDF).
  71. ^ "Text of Initiative 985(2008)" (PDF).
  72. ^ "Washington Traffic Congestion Proposal, Initiative 985".
  73. ^ "Text of Initiative 1033(2009)" (PDF).
  74. ^ "Washington Lower Property Taxes, Initiative 1033".
  75. ^ "Text of Initiative 1053(2010)" (PDF).
  76. ^ "Judge rules tax initiative violates constitution". The Seattle Times. May 30, 2012.
  77. ^ "Text of Initiative 1125(2011)" (PDF).
  78. ^ "Washington Transportation, Initiative 1125".
  79. ^ "Initiative Measure No. 1185" (PDF). Washington State Secretary of State. January 6, 2012. Retrieved August 17, 2012.
  80. ^ "Tax initiative requiring two-thirds vote wins handily". The Seattle Times. November 6, 2012.
  81. ^ http://www.theolympian.com/2013/02/28/2441472/washington-state-supreme-court.html
  82. ^ "Washington 'Protect the Initiative Act', Initiative 517 (2013)".
  83. ^ "Tim Eyman withdraws referendums seeking vote on Atlantic salmon net-pen ban". The Seattle Times. March 23, 2018. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
  84. ^ "Tim Eyman says $30 car-tab initiative will be on November ballot". The Seattle Times. January 3, 2019. Retrieved May 15, 2019.
  85. ^ "Tim Eyman mortgages house to get back in the initiative game".
  86. ^ "Eyman paid himself $165,000".
  87. ^ Blethen, Ryan (November 29, 2018). "Tax protester Tim Eyman files for bankruptcy as legal troubles persist". Retrieved December 15, 2018.