Tim Eyman and his daughter - speaking to the media election night in Bellevue, Washington - November 5, 2019


Support We the Governed – MAKE A DONATION HERE

Tim Eyman, always promoting

Washington State’s election this year forced the media to focus on one guy, and his name wasn’t on the ballot.  Many voters didn’t realize it, however, because his name was on more political mailers, signs, and tv ads than any politician in the state running for office.  Yet, the well-funded, bizarre personal attacks on the “initiative king” Tim Eyman seems only to have guaranteed the success of his most recent initiative – to reduce Washington State’s vehicle license tabs back to $30 (Initiative 976 – linked here).   As of right now, this initiative is winning with 56% support.

Despite squandering $5 million attacking Eyman by name with a deluge of mailers, flooding the media with ads attacking Eyman, and even promoting Tim Eyman on every campaign sign, all the well-funded opponents had to show for wasting these funds was an election loss and a complaint filed with the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) for willfully concealing the names of their top 5 corporate donors from the public in millions of dollars of campaign mailings (See complaint filed by this author linked here, here, here, and here). 

The Empire Strikes Back at Eyman, and loses, again

Of course, it wasn’t enough that the political and corporate establishment would join forces and waste their money attacking Eyman.  For the most part, the money they wasted wasn’t their own.  Microsoft, Expedia, Amazon and the rest of the corporate crew waste more money than this on their annual catering budget.  This money wasted will just be a rounding error in their corporate finance reports.  It was worth it for the businesses to purchase good will from the political establishment and to virtue signal that they were down with the struggle against the Tim Eyman boogeyman.  More interesting was the organized extra bonus effort to get every group of local elected officials (City and County) in the state to formally hold hearings and pass cookie cutter, group-think resolutions in opposition to Tim Eyman’s $30 car tab initiative (I testified against this waste of taxpayer resources at my local hearing in Thurston County linked here – at about the 1:27 mark). 

Just another elitist politician who the voters ignored

The City of Olympia even decided to overtly and flagrantly violate Washington’s campaign finance laws by using tax payer dollars to mail out a “vote no on I-695” card to all the registered voters in the city. Yep, I filed a complaint on that one too (linked here).

The City of Olympia illegally spent taxpayer dollars to urge voters to vote No on I-976

The silly, hyper-ventilating cries of doom and gloom from every bureaucrat, grant grifter, and virtue signaling politician in the state was political theatre of the highest order, and it was clearly over the top.  Thoughtful people can certainly have a principled opposition to Eyman’s initiative.  If you had concerns about some of the policy ramifications you could write about it with some degree of rational policy analysis (like this one from the Washington Policy Center which took a neutral stance on the proposal).  However, instead, the opposition took the absurd,  sackcloth and ashes, wailing in the streets, gnashing of the teeth, with repetitive screaming that the four horsemen of the apocalypse were coming and Tim Eyman was the rider on every horse.

It was all about Tim Eyman

The ham-handedness and ineptitude of the campaign against this initiative should be a case study in what NOT to do if you oppose an initiative.  The fact that the entire political, corporate, media, and bureaucratic establishment of Washington State opposed this initiative, and it passed overwhelmingly despite that opposition should be a clear message to the “smart set” in the state that something is broken and the voters don’t believe or trust them. 

When Eyman went to the Seattle City Council to speak against their resolution to oppose I-976, he was surrounded by signs with his name on them

Eyman’s successful effort to reduce the state’s car tabs to $30 is not the problem.  Tim Eyman is not the problem.  The problem is the political elite, the aloof and untouchable bureaucracy, the ever shrinking legacy “media,” and the moneyed interests that support and profit from them are out of touch with the average voter in Washington State. 

Even King County Executive Dow Constantine helped make the entire campaign about Tim Eyman (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/Northwest Progressive Institute)

Why do people want $30 car tabs?

Tim Eyman, his daughter, and supporters faced the media election night

Over the last 20 years in Washington State, the political battles at the ballot box and in the courts over $30 dollar car tabs has become a symbol of bigger problems in the state.  The taxpayers of Washington State get shafted more significantly by property taxes, B&O taxes, sales taxes, and other more sneaky ways the government extracts their pound of flesh.  However, even the most apathetic voter is familiar with how much they pay to renew their license tabs every year, and 20 years ago, this tax was (like every tax and “fee”) increasing far more than the original nominal amount.  People were paying more for their car tabs than on their auto loan each month.  In 1998, Tim Eyman noticed this fact and was willing to confront the problem.

Eyman’s first effort to limit car tabs was a total failure.  He tried to collect signatures for I-691 (“no car tax”), but he discovered that the title was confusing and people didn’t know what a “car tax” was.  He tried again in 1999 with I-695 – “$30 car tab,” which was clear, understandable and resonated with voters.  It passed easily (56% in favor, interestingly enough – roughly the same percentage I-976 is leading by right now 20 years later).  At the time, just like today, the entire political, media, corporate, and bureaucratic empire opposed the initiative.  It passed anyway. 

In 1999, the first $30 car tab initiative sponsored by Eyman – easily approved by voters

For those who want a Back to the Future moment, I would suggest you read this article from the Washington Policy Center which was written a year after I-695 passed.  It details how every prediction made by the opponents “the sky is falling” turned out to be false.  This is likely to be true, once again, today.  History does have a  way of repeating itself.

Eyman is usually willing to tell you what he thinks about the political class

The original $30 car tab initiative passed in 1999 only restricted the state from imposing additional taxes, and it didn’t say anything about local governments.  Of course, local governments were piling on and collecting more cash via car tab fees.  It was free money for them.  So, in 2002, Eyman followed up the 1999 success with another $30 car tab initiative (I-776) which prevented local governments from jacking up people’s car tabs.  It passed as well, although only 51% of the voters approved, it carried 35 of 39 counties.

Eyman’s opponents made it all about him, even their Memes. Eyman is their boogeyman.

Of course, as with any time the people resist the bloat of bureaucracy, the politicians and special interests worked out techniques and ways around the law to keep finding new methods to milk the cash cow of voters in Washington State by tacking on new taxes to the car tabs.  Like barnacles on a ship sitting too long in Puget Sound, these taxes were starting to pile on and appear on everone’s car tab bills.  This was particularly true in the King County area where Washington State’s own light rail boondoggle – called Sound Transit – found a way to gerrymander and command a special premium to support their subsidized tax scheme to squander billions.  Voters were annoyed.

Eyman made several failed attempts to sweep off the tax barnacles that had built up on the voter’s car tabs in the recent years.  He tried to get I-917 qualified in 2006, but fell about 5,000 signatures short.  He tried all-volunteer (no paid signature gatherers) in 2016 and 2017, but couldn’t pull it off.  Finally, in 2018, he and his wife emptied their retirement fund and put $500,000 of their own money into the cause (money they will probably never see again) , and they qualified I-976 for the ballot.  This was the initiative that overwhelmingly passed by significant fraud-proof (even with King County’s questionable vote fraud reputation) margins.  Nobody can claim that Eyman isn’t persistent.

Eyman sometimes wears a suit and is willing to show his displeasure with tax bills. In this case, he is standing beside former Governor Gregoire in 2009.

Outside observers might think that over the past 20 years, even the tone-deaf politicians, bureaucrats, editorial boards, and other leaders of Washington State would be able to understand voters intent on this issue.  Yeah, it turns out voters really do want $30 car tabs.  Of course, instead of opposing the initiative on policy grounds, the tone-deaf out-of-touch elite threw a fit and made this an initiative about Tim Eyman.  Normally, I would ignore the personal vendetta and focus on the fact that people wanted $30 car tabs.  However, the foolish campaign to make this about one guy who is not on the ballot made the opponents of $30 car tabs look foolish and ignorant.  This also has turned Eyman, for all his imperfections, troubles and woes into a hero of the normal people who just want to be left alone by the clowns who claim to rule them. 

Governor Jay Inslee is no stranger to stupid statements

Even Governor Inslee, no stranger to stupid statements, recently was quoted in the Kitsap Sun, where Inslee said he had a super secret plan to solve homelessness, but he wouldn’t be able to unveil his wisdom or secret sauce plans unless Eyman’s initiative was defeated.  In Washington State, we all know our governor likes to make himself look buffoonish and out of touch.  We expect it.  Now the nation has seen Inslee in action, with his recent failed Presidential campaign, where 1% of the nation’s voters supported him. The 1% of the nation who liked him all apparently live in Seattle, and it was mainly Seattle voters who voted against $30 car tabs. 

The politicians, bureaucrats, editorial boards, and Mega PACs made this whole thing about Eyman, claiming “Eyman is the only one who supports I-976.”  In reality, it appears far more than half the voters of this state side with Eyman over the established, wealthy elite.  Thoughtful people normally might pause to think about that and digest this truth.

The continuing battles of Tim Eyman – Revenge of the Sith Lord Ferguson

AG Bob Ferguson appears to use his office to persecute Tim Eyman, sue Donald Trump, and protect his political allies and donors

Most of the time, over the past few years, Eyman’s name has been in the papers as part of the Washington State Attorney General’s multimillion dollar, seven-year effort to destroy him and prevent him from ever participating in the political process again.  The greatest crime Eyman has committed is a crime against bureaucracy – he has saved the taxpayers of this state over $40 billion (and counting) of taxes which otherwise could have been squandered by the politicians, bureaucrats, and the recipients of their tax largess.  For this crime, there would never be forgiveness.  Eyman has upset the gravy train numerous times over the past 20 years, and the pigs feeding at the trough are angry.  It was inevitable that they would extract their revenge.

The Sith Lord in this story is Bob Ferguson, who, when he isn’t wasting taxpayer dollars on endless virtue-signaling lawsuits against Donald Trump (35 so far or is it 36?), has decided to dedicate the power of the state to destroy Tim Eyman.  The most recent legal battles against Tim Eyman in court began as a campaign finance violation with some of the PACs Tim Eyman managed in the past.  To understand these accusations, one first has to understand Washington State’s campaign finance laws. 

Democrat Party Chair Tina Podlodowski is not alone in wanting to choke Tim Eyman out of politics

It isn’t easy to understand Washington State’s campaign finance laws because they were never written to be easy to understand or follow in the first place.  The good intention behind these laws was to require transparency in the state’s political campaign process.  Everyone likes transparency.  Like all good intentions, the actual implementation of these laws has gone far astray from the original theory.  Now, the campaign finance laws are mainly used as an incumbent protection racket to suppress free speech for those who want to challenge the establishment, to protect the incumbents (who have survived the rules) from challengers, and to be a convenient excuse to punish political enemies (while protecting your friends).  Theoretically, the law is applied equally.  Nobody believes that, and the AG proves this prosecutorial bias with his actions.

AG Ferguson at Central Washington University. Apparently he realizes he can use taxpayer funds as a powerful tool to persecute his political enemies and protect his political allies.

In 2016 and 2017, I forced the AG to sue 19 political allies and friends in Washington State by using Washington State’s campaign finance laws at the time – most specifically the Citizen Action Notice requirements (the law was changed in 2018 as HB 2938 AKA “The Stop Glen Morgan Bill”).  This was a part of the law which stated if the AG didn’t sue the violators, a citizen could do so on behalf of the state.  The AG at the time, had just finished suing Republican Kim Wyman in the middle of her 2016 election for far less significant violations than most of the violations I had exposed.  The AG was also devoting the full resources of the state to bankrupt Tim Eyman and destroy his ability to ever be politically active again – deposing his wife, deposing every large donor, discovery requests never intended to be fulfilled, endless press releases, full televised press conferences, massive motion practice (over 1000 so far), using the bankruptcy process as the sole creditor to prevent Eyman from hiring attorneys, etc.  A scorched earth legal campaign unlike any other campaign ever conducted by the AGs office against any individual in the history of the state. 

Eyman has often been forced to be his own attorney due to the way the AG’s office has prevented him from paying any attorneys who he might hire.
Former AG attorney Walter Smith (backed by AG Ferguson) only wanted to sue Eyman and Republicans

The AG’s office was very annoyed that I used the law to expose equivalent violations being committed by some of his political allies, donors and supporters (they were also annoyed that I caught him breaking the campaign finance laws too – see here).  The AG was forced to sue some of these violators, but all these lawsuits were conducted with pat-a-cake style settlements, payment plans, no discovery, minimal motion practice, few if any press releases, and in some cases, Bob Ferguson even helped the violators raise funds during the investigation process so they could pay the wrist slap fines.  One of the AG’s lead attorneys at the time, Walter Smith, even quit the office because he claimed he didn’t go to work at the AG’s office to sue Democrats (implying that he thought he was only going to be suing Republicans or evil rebels like Eyman). 

Even if Eyman did violate the campaign finance laws of Washington State, he wasn’t treated like all of the many friends and donors of AG Bob Ferguson who also violated those same laws.  Instead, only Tim Eyman has been persecuted with the full power of the state.  Public statements by Ferguson that he “would never settle” with Eyman, and other absurdities have abounded in this personal vendetta drama.  Eyman has filed for bankruptcy, experienced divorce, and been hammered relentlessly by a multi-million dollar campaign to destroy him conducted by the full force of the State of Washington with the express and obvious goal of denying his ability to ever participate in the initiative process again.  In the middle of all this chaos, despite what must be tremendous personal pressure, Eyman pulled off this victory against all the odds.

It is really unbelievable. 

I don’t think Eyman is perfect.  Nobody is.  Most political activists are flawed people in some way or another.  Eyman has made mistakes.  Plenty of them.  However, Eyman’s status as a superstar activist is almost entirely a creation of the outsized and absurd attacks on one guy, and the weird delusions by the political elite about him have only served to increase his reputation as a slayer of dragons.  Last night’s election results only make the reputation grow even larger.  Imagine what Eyman could achieve if he wasn’t being tortured by the AG’s office?  Imagine what he could do if he had plenty of funding to do it without throwing away his retirement fund? 

Eyman might dress up in an orange jumpsuit to make a point, but there is clearly a desire of the political elite to make this his future dress code

More importantly, imagine if Washington State begins to spawn or inspire more Tim Eymans who are also willing to dare mighty things and speak truth to power.  They may not do initiatives, but it won’t take too many people like Tim Eyman to shake the political power structure of Washington State.  It is obvious the emperors do indeed wear no clothing.  What happens when enough of us start to expose these truths and confront them?  They can’t stop us all.

They can’t buy us all


Background articles and documents:

Text of I-976 Initiative – “$30 car tabs” – 2019 November ballot

Washington Policy Center – Citizen’s Guide to I-976 – by Mariya Frost

Public Disclosure Commission Enforcement Case File (Case #59150) for Keep Washington Rolling PAC (the anti-Tim Eyman PAC)

Text of Initiative I-961 – “no car tax” – one of Eyman’s earliest failures in 1998 – never even turned in any signatures

Text of Initiative – I-695 “$30 car tabs” 1999 – Eyman’s first successful car tabs initiative

I-695 – “One Year Later, the sky didn’t fall” – Washington Policy Center – Paul Guppy

Text of Initiative – I-776 – “$30 car tabs” 2002 – restricting local governments from piling on car tab taxes or fees

AG Ferguson’s persecution of Tim Eyman, Eyman’s plea, and a creepy AG employee

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”


  1. I am not sure I will live to see the day, but if we win this cold war against the left, you and Tim will go down as heroes. If we lose, your names will be wiped from the history books. Thanks for all you guys do, keep up the fight, we need you both.

  2. 🤔
    Those in our government should not be complaining about what I-976 would negatively do. They should instead be more attentive to the needs and wishes of ‘we the people.’ In the wake of, hopefully a secure win, they should be looking to make our State government more efficient and more in-touch with the citizens of Washington State.
    Sure, I-976 makes governing more difficult, which is just as it should be. It should not be easy to raise our taxes. It should not be easy to restrict our rights. Washington State government should be looking for ways to efficiently spend our money not just throw our money at whatever project they wish. They should, and do not, be seeking ways to lower our taxes. Throwing Tax after tax, after tax is the easy way, but does not take into account the impact upon ‘we the people’ of Washington State.
    Citizens in Washington State may have Taxation with Representation, however, it is OVER-Taxation with POOR-Representation.

Comments are closed.