On Friday, there was another hearing in the never ending Tim Eyman lawsuit at Thurston County Superior Court in Olympia, Washington State.  This was just the latest hearing in a long series of many hearings in Bob Ferguson, Washington State Attorney General’s litigation against Initiative guy Tim Eyman.  Over the past few years, almost 800 pleadings have been filed in this case.  This author has occasionally covered this case at a few points along the way (see articles here, and here).  However, Friday’s hearing was unique in several impactful ways.

Tim Eyman – alone and under attack by the full force of the state

First, this is the first hearing where we get to see Tim Eyman, in his own words, discuss the case without legal counsel.  This lawsuit is essentially a case stemming from an original 2012 Public Disclosure Commission complaint filed against Tim Eyman and his political committees involved in initiatives which mostly reduce taxes.  Eyman has a 20 year history of filing, promoting, and frequently passing initiatives to reduce taxes in Washington State (see here).  He isn’t always successful, but his cumulative successes over the years can’t be denied or ignored.  Obviously, these successes have infuriated political insiders, the bureaucrats and vendors who rely on easy government cash, and politicians who always want to spend the people’s money on pet projects. 

Depending on how one views Eyman’s successful initiatives over the years, they have reduced the amount average citizens would have paid on their taxes by close to $40 billion over 20 years (see link here).  Since Eyman is so clearly a guy identified with depriving the state of this cash which they could have squandered by now, then the wrath and resources of the state is focused entirely against this one guy.

Thurston County Superior Court Judge Dixon has been involved in the Eyman case from the beginning. He was the judge who threw out I-1639 based on the sponsor’s failure to follow the law, but was overturned by the State Supreme Court last year on that one. He has been very deferential to the AG in this case.

It was inevitable that Eyman would have his detractors and they would do everything they could do to stop his efforts.  Democratic legislators always propose bills in Olympia to water down or restrict the citizens’ initiative process.   Sometimes, when the state legislature is controlled by Democrats, they even try to violate the state constitution to undermine the state’s initiative process as they did last year on I-940 (see article here, and here).  Tim Eyman has had his run-in with the joys of the state’s campaign finance laws before back in 2002 (see article here).  However, this current case is unique in almost every measure.  In THIS case, unlike every other campaign finance case filed by the AG in Washington State’s history, the state is uniquely concentrating the full force of the government to destroy one man over violations that are commonly made by many of AG Ferguson’s campaign donors and allies.  There is no proportionality in this lawsuit against Eyman compared to the violations that he may or may not have committed.

How many regular people would think the AG is being fair or honest in the Eyman case?

Here are just a few unique elements to the Eyman case:

  • State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has stated from the beginning that he would never settle this lawsuit with Tim Eyman.  For context, the State settled with the Green River killer, but they will “never settle” with Tim Eyman.
  • Ferguson has spent more on pleadings, staff costs, and investigative costs on this case than any other campaign finance case in state history. (See article for reference here)
  • The level of harassment against Eyman is unique in the AG’s history.  For example, tossing out Eyman’s attorney using the fact the AG is the only creditor in Eyman’s bankruptcy court hearing to force his attorneys to resign and the unique legal attacks targeting Eyman’s wife.
  • The AG (and PDC before them) did not even bother to meet or contact his treasurer (the guy legally responsible for the reporting) for the first few years of this investigation (normally this is the first person they would interview in this type of case), and this failure to meet with the treasurer was particularly tragic because the treasurer, Stan Long, died in a car accident two years after this case started.  There was plenty of time for the state to have interviewed the guy. They did not because they don’t care about the truth. Their focus is only on stopping Eyman.
  • The AG has planned 35 3rd party depositions on supporters of Eyman.  This has NEVER happened in any other campaign finance case.
  • When Eyman’s attorneys have tried to reach out to the AG to ask for a settlement demand (See here), the AG refused to respond and just went to the media.  See article here.
  • Unique in the history of campaign finance lawsuits, the AG wants to deny Tim his rights to participate in the political process with a lifetime ban for participating with initiatives – the only thing he has done for the past 20 years. (for more on this you can read an editorial published by a small paper in Washington State – the Leavenworth Echo (linked here). The AG tried to convince the paper to change their article, which, to the credit of this paper, they refused (linked here).

Tim Eyman’s own words and that creepy, weird AG attorney

The video from Friday’s hearing is linked earlier in this article.  It is worth reviewing the part where Eyman speaks to the judge (at 23:00 min).  He is obviously emotional, any normal person would be. Eyman spoke longer than what an attorney would ever do in a situation like this.  Imagine yourself in his shoes.  As someone also present in the courtroom, this author also witnessed the laughing and joking among the AG attorneys.  In fairness, we don’t know what they were laughing about, but it was bad optics and added to the ugliness of the setting.  There is no need to parse his lengthy speech here. Despite the obvious pressure, he does a decent job summarizing his case.

Bob Ferguson speaks at the Spokane County Democrat’s Tom Foley Dinner in 2017 helping them fundraise to pay the small fine his office would be forced to impose on them in 2018.

Normal people who listen and watch Eyman’s presentation to the judge can’t help but be moved by his situation, particularly because, based on the AG’s own filings, this case is mostly about a failure to report two transactions (over which there is a dispute as to whether they should have been reported – see here) back in 2012.  The AG has played pat-a- cake litigation with everyone from the Spokane County Democratic Committee to the Democrat Speaker of the House Frank Chopp (see partial list here for comparative examples) who also violated the campaign finance laws and the AG never bothered to harass these people in this way.  Not even close.  The AG, in fact, willfully averted their eyes and refused to dig deep on any other case. The AG’s political allies paid fines, pat-a-cake, and then settled their lawsuits and moved on.  That is not an option for Tim Eyman.  Even the 2011 case against Moxie Media, which the previous AG pursued and which demonstrated willful and well-funded efforts to evade the Fair Campaign Practices Act of Washington State (RCW 42.17A) by Democratic Party donors and unions, the AG both found a way settle the case, Moxie Media paid a fine, and they were even allowed to have secretive funding sources pay the fine (see article).

Tina Podlodowski, Washington State Democratic Party State Chair (left), believes the campaign finance laws were only supposed to be used to choke out Tim Eyman and Republicans, and Ferguson is helping demonstrate the double standard and lack of equal protection under the law in Washington State.

Of course, the biggest difference between most of these cases and Tim Eyman is that he committed the cardinal sin of reducing taxes in Washington State.  There is no other reason to target him in this manner.  Tim Eyman is mainly known for his anti-tax initiatives in Washington State.  In fact, astoundingly enough, right in the middle of this chaos, he was able to manage another successful signature gathering campaign which will put a $30 car tab initiative on next November’s ballot.  Eyman isn’t always successful, but he still has a remarkable track record of success over 20 years.  Washington State voters want lower taxes and usually vote to lower them.  This annoys big government types, including the state AG, who will do anything to support their goal of bigger, bloated government.

Eyman speaking for himself, with no attorneys to represent him anymore

The legal issues being addressed at Friday’s hearing were relatively minor.  The judge rejected an odd AG request regarding discovery.  The judge allowed the AG to add in a few more claims to the lawsuit (based on a fairly minor set of violations in a separate complaint filed in 2016 – see here).  However, it probably was in Eyman’s best interest to allow this since the AG was just planning to file additional lawsuits anyway.  Eyman was requesting a temporary delay of the case and discovery since he no longer has an attorney due to the AG forcing his attorneys off his case, which they could do through his bankruptcy case (which I’ll discuss in more detail below). Finally, Eyman wanted a continuance (an extension to allow Eyman time to find adequate counsel), but since he didn’t file a continuance motion correctly, that was rejected, so now the AG gets to proceed to depose Eyman supporters without any counsel representing Eyman to be present.  

While he tried to play Secret Agent Man at Friday’s hearing and refused to identify himself, his name is Eric Newman, he is an assistant AG and is head of the AG’s Anti-Trust Division. He is actually a listed AG attorney on the case against Eyman, which makes his weird, creepy secrecy at the hearing even more senseless

As a little bit of a distraction and to add a whole new level of creepiness and a weirdo to an already unusual hearing – one of the AG’s attorneys who was participating in the case (he was conferring and instructing the attorneys during breaks and crossing the bar to meet with them at their table), was new to this author.  Having filed a lot of campaign finance complaints, this author was interested in properly identifying all the AG staff in the room.  However, for the first time in this author’s nine-year experience interacting with state and local government, this attorney refused to give his name or even clarify which department he worked.  He reluctantly admitted he did work in the AG’s office and gave me only his first name “Eric” but refused all other information.  After requesting other people to help identify this creepy guy on Facebook, Mr. Secret Agent man has been identified, and it is bizarre that he even tried to refuse to identify himself. 

Eric Newman has a FB profile

His name is Eric Newman and was a failed King County Superior Court Judge candidate in 2016.  The Seattle Times endorsement of his candidacy at the time is linked here.  The results from his failed campaign is linked here.  He received a respectable 44% in that election. His public information on the bar association is linked here (his Bar Association number is 31521).  His Facebook profile is available (see image nearby).  It turns out, after he lost his race for judge, the AG hired him to head up the Anti-Trust Division. 

During Friday’s hearing, during a break, Eric Newman meets with AG attorneys Linda Dalton and Todd Sipes

Even weirder than Eric Newman’s refusal to identify himself in a public setting – he is a listed attorney in the Eyman case, which makes his adamant refusal to identify himself in the courtroom even more bizarre and pointless.  He doesn’t work in the Campaign Finance Unit, which is technically the AG division suing Eyman, and since the head of the state’s AG anti-trust division is spending his time going after Eyman than we can better understand why the AG won’t be pursuing any anti-trust action against Google and Facebook (even though the AG had a solid campaign finance case against them which would have allowed for real discovery, which the AG refused to do – see another pat-a-cake settlement here).  Of course, it was entirely coincidental that both companies and many of their employees donated to Ferguson’s political election campaign.

Washington State AG Bob Ferguson at Central Washington University explaining how the law is a powerful tool. Unfortunately, Ferguson appears to use the tool to punish his political enemies and coverup the crimes of his political friends

Bob Ferguson’s rules – crucify those who politically oppose you, and cover up for your allies – yes, this is corrupt

Former Spokane County Democratic Chair Andrew Biviano (right) and AG Bob Ferguson while the AG is “investigating” the Spokane County Democrats. Ferguson helped them raise money to pay the pat-a-cake fine his office imposed on them. Eyman didn’t get this treatment.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson appears to be using his office to settle personal vendettas and to assist him with political payback for his friends.  Tim Eyman is the most obvious victim of this agenda, but not the only one.  The AG staging the Kim Wyman campaign finance case for optimal impact on her election is a good example.  This AG never did this to any Democratic Party candidate in this state.  Despite the large number of times this author exposed their violations in excess of Wyman’s campaign finance violations.  This AG never uses press releases to embarrass and harass Democratic Party candidates or groups.  Exclusively, the AG uses them against Republicans and conservative aligned groups.  This author has written about some of this before (see here).  This merits much more in-depth reporting beyond the scope of this article.

Tim Eyman is often referred to as the “initiative king” of Washington State. This has been his primary activity over the last 20 years.

One of the most surreal aspects of this case is the AG’s decision to force Eyman’s attorneys off his case so he can’t be represented. This bizarre result has occurred because Eyman was forced into bankruptcy a few months ago due to the fact that the AG is causing him to spend more money than he has or will ever had. Eyman filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Since the only listed creditor he has in this case, other than attorneys, is the Attorney General’s office, as his primary creditor, they have the ability to direct how he uses his remaining assets in the bankruptcy process. Once they had this leverage, the first thing they did is oppose the naming of Eyman’s attorney, claiming he was not competent to represent him. In Federal Bankruptcy Court on Friday, January 4th, the AG prevailed and was able to prevent Joel Ard (one of the potential attorneys) from representing Tim Eyman. (because the bankruptcy court has effective veto power over Eyman’s finances in the bankruptcy process). They also opposed Eyman’s attorney for his divorce, his tax attorney, and all others who dare represent Eyman in any case. For the record, these very same attorneys are some of the most knowledgeable attorneys in the state on RCW 42.17A, and there is a very limited number of attorneys experienced in this area. As Joel Ard explained to the bankruptcy judge and said in Federal Court. Now Eyman has no legal representation, and this gives the AG even freer unchecked opportunities to abuse the legal process without adult supervision or brakes. The AG has made it impossible for Eyman to even get another attorney, as Joel Ard (Eyman’s attorney rejected by the AG) explained very well in Federal Court.

Eyman sometimes wears a suit and has been willing to show his displeasure with certain bills. In this case, he is standing beside former Governor Gregoire in 2010, with the bill overturning the 2/3 protection from higher taxes, which voters had approved in 2007. Stunts like this have made him unpopular among the political elite

It doesn’t matter if you like Eyman or not.   It doesn’t matter if you like his initiatives or not.  The question is whether what is happening to Eyman is just or right or proportionate to the alleged violations.  If people look at this case closely, most people would find this situation ridiculous.  Theoretically, the judicial system should step in like mature adults and ensure the Constitution isn’t entirely abandoned, but this isn’t happening here.  Instead, the judges in Washington State seem to give far too much deference to the AG’s office, which the AG’s office has not earned or deserves.  While Eyman’s statement to the court (see Eyman’s pro Se filing linked here) on Friday was not legally significant, it is the first time he has had a chance to present his perspective without an attorney’s filter.  It is compelling, and it should require people of good will to reconsider how much power has been handed to the AG’s office without any oversight or adult supervision.  Knowing the politician Ferguson is willing to abuse his powers as AG today, what would he be like as Governor tomorrow?  Does anyone have any doubt that he would abuse that office as well?  He would probably do much worse. Today, it is Eyman who is being destroyed, tomorrow it could just as easily be you.

Eyman is facing the full force of the AG’s office alone…
Eyman has protested past legislation in the past which sought to silence and punish political dissent, however, this is the clear goal of AG Ferguson to do this now.


Background articles:

AG Ferguson loses another legal skirmish with Tim Eyman – strangely, no AG press release

Eyman’s Pro Se response documents filed in court Jan 18, 2019

Eyman wins major court motion against Attorney General, Ferguson could be first AG in state history forced to testify under Oath

Eyman wins lawsuit against State, exposing unconstitutional effort by legislature, saves initiative process

Leavenworth Echo – December 3, 2018 – “Tyranny of the Law” (AG didn’t like this article)

Seattle PI – Connelly:  AG wants Eyman held in contempt, fined $2,000 a day

AG’s Motion of Contempt Against Tim Eyman (January 2018)

Eyman’s Response to AG (January 12, 2018)

Jeffrey Sprung PDC Complaint #27563

History article about King County Initiative 18 (reduce size of council)

Seattle PI – Eyman is hit with $2.1 million campaign finance lawsuit

Kiro 7 – March 31, 2017 – Video of AG Ferguson talking about Eyman lawsuit

Seattle Met – Aug 19, 2011 – “Andrew Villeneuve Takes on Tim Eyman”

The Olympian Editorial- Oct 20, 2015 – “Send Eyman’s Ideas out with the Trash”

Seattle Times – July 22, 2016 – “Eric Newman for King County Superior Court Judge position #44”

AG Press Releases about Tim Eyman over last year

AG Press Release – “In AG Investigation, Court finds Tim Eyman violated June 29 Order”

AG Press Release – “Judge Doubles Eyman’s Contempt Sanctions”

AG Press Release – “Ferguson files $2.1M Campaign Finance lawsuit against Tim Eyman”

AG Press Release – “AG Ferguson Demands Documents be disclosed in Eyman Investigation”

AG Press Release – “AG asks courts to hold Eyman, Committees, in Contempt”

AG Press Release – “AG Subpoenas enforced by court in Tim Eyman probe”

AG Press Release – “In AG Investigation, Court Finds Tim Eyman violated June 29 Order”

AG Press Release – “Tim Eyman, Committees pay AG $20K in Costs and Fees for months of delay”

AG Press Release – “AG: Judge Orders Signature Gathering Firm to disclose documents in Eyman probe”

AG Press Release – “Court rejects motion to dismiss 2 Defendants in Eyman campaign finance case”

AG Press Release – “Eyman and Committees violated campaign accounting and disclosure laws”


  1. Am I to understand that WE HAVE NO RECOURSE here? This is THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA! Ferguson can not be allowed to destroy this man. He should not be using his office of Washington State AG and spending tax payers money’s for his personal vendetta. He should be ashamed with himself. What a horrible role model he is. Has Tim Eyman harmed anyone? Tim Eyman is hardly a criminal. Ferguson needs to get a life and go after some real criminal’s. Maybe try prosecuting some child molesters and rapists, instead of putting Tim Eyman through the ringer and causing him to go through hell. We should plan a march for Tim Eyman and go march on the capital steps, do a petition or something. Glen Morgan pretty much writes that theirs nothing we can do??? #NEVERGIVEUP.

    • I suspect it starts with exposing the truth. The actions that can or should be taken after that are open. I don’t believe there is “Nothing” we can do, but it isn’t going to be as simple as people think. Great discretion is allowed in state law for the AG to abuse almost anyone he wants, when he wants, for almost any excuse he wants. This, structurally, is a problem with this office.

  2. I was thinking about this this morning and some of you may know better than me, what if we filed a complaint with the US Attorney’s office in Seattle and with the Bar Association against Mr Ferguson and his staff? Can it be done anonymously? Would it put the spotlight and possibly an investigation into the AG? Or is there another place where we could start getting folks to file anonymous complaints?

    • Nothing can be done anonymously. Particularly bar complaints. The Washington State Bar Association is completely willing to hide corruption in the AG’s office. The US Attorney’s office is not a bad place to file complaints, but anonymity is not realistic. Anonymous complaints are generally ignored. It would be better to file a complaint with 1000 signatures of agreement or concern (or more).

      • Ok then….how do we make that happen? Get a complaint written and pass it around to a bunch of us via pdf/email for signature and send to the US Attorney’s office? As a society we cannot let this continue because one of us could be next for something innocuous.

        • It is certain that Ferguson will continue to use his office to cover up crimes and protect his political allies and at the same time attack and destroy his political enemies. This is what he does.

        • Perhaps we need someone from out-of-state to help write up a solid legal document for us to sign. Ferguson and his enforcers would probably destroy any Washington State lawyer. I first noticed the problem when I was following the 2017 Evergreen State College meltdown. There is no equal protection under the law. Your group identity determines which laws apply. Group rights override individual rights. They basically nullified both the state and US constitutions and very few people even noticed.

          • Great idea. I was thinking about sending the article to the attorney who has stepped up to protect the Covington High School kids. Thoughts?

            Yesterday while running errands I had another thought (scary). I was listening to Sean Hannity. WHAT IF – we all started writing to Hannity, Willkow, David Webb, Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, et al? And showing them what’s going on in our state with the AG trying to destroy Tim? I would add Michael Medved to that list but not sure he would do anything about it at all. But the others, at least one of them might take the lead and start digging into what’s going on here and putting it in the national spotlight. Ferguson can’t hide from that.

            • It never hurts to draw more attention to the situation. However, I don’t think Ferguson really cares. He has made a political calculation that if he destroys Tim Eyman it will help him with his own political election. Therefore, he doesn’t really care about anything else. He knows the Republicans are not serious (at this point) about running anyone against him, so he figures his political fight is against other Democrats – Republicans or conservatives of any stripe just don’t matter…

  3. I wish I could say that this is unbelievable, but it’s all too believable. Shame on Ferguson, the assistant AGs involved in this, and all that remain silent on this abuse of power.

    If a mark of society is how well the society treats its defenseless and powerless, then the mark of a politician is how the politician treats his adversaries.

    Ferguson falls short of the mark.

  4. So, what happens next for Tim? Did this court appearance change anything for him? How is it that the inept AG for the state of Washington is allowed to continually use our hard earned dollars for this sham?

    • Tim likely has years of more hearings like this before a trial, plus the effort by the AG to harass and isolate anyone who ever supported Eyman in the past. Ferguson has turned the AG’s office into his own poitical revenge program – attacking his political enemies and protecting his political friends. Most of the senior staff at the AG’s office are the same now.

  5. Bob Ferguson is a tyrant plain and simple. He is one of those the founders of our country warned us about.

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