OLYMPIA, Wash. (CN) – The Washington state attorney general has sued a well-known initiative promoter and signature-gatherer on claims he funneled campaign funds to his personal accounts and evaded full campaign disclosures.
If Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s claims are successful, activist Tim Eyman may owe the state as much as $1.8 million in penalties.
Ferguson sued Eyman in Thurston County Superior Court this past week, outlining a string of claims that includes misleading initiative sponsors by funneling their money to a separate initiative campaign.
The lawsuit says Eyman evaded reporting to the Public Disclosure Commission the money he received for the “Voters Want More Choices – Save the 2/3’s” campaign in 2012. The Evergreen State claims Eyman, who had already been paid over $1 million for just over 320,000 signatures, did not disclose an additional $308,000 he received for the campaign.
Eyman then used some of the funds for his own use and funneled $200,000 to an advocacy group, Citizens in Charge, to sponsor signature-gathering for another Eyman-backed initiative, I-517, according to the lawsuit. That initiative would have “set penalties for interfering with signature-gatherers or signers,” the lawsuit says.
“Taking kickbacks from contractors, using campaign funds for personal expenses, redirecting donations made for one initiative to a different initiative – it’s hard to imagine what more Mr. Eyman could have done to show his contempt for our campaign-finance disclosure laws,” Ferguson said.
The state also claims Eyman helped file inaccurate and misleading reports related to the Citizens in Charge group, and that one of the group's leaders concealed the transfer of funds to Eyman.
In addition to asking the court for fines against Eyman, Ferguson also wants an injunction preventing Eyman from directing financial transactions for any political committees going in the future.
Eyman already made a 2002 agreement with the state that permanently bars him from serving as a treasurer for political committees, but the current lawsuit says Eyman worked around the prohibition for his personal gain.
Senior Assistant Attorney General Linda Dalton and Assistant Attorneys General Walter Smith and Jeff Sprung are handling the state’s case against Eyman.