Tim Eyman, who earlier this year was found liable for years of “particularly egregious” violations of Washington’s campaign finance laws and was hit with a $2.6 million fine, has not made his last two monthly payments on that fine and is now in default, according to court documents.
Eyman, Washington’s premier conservative activist for the last two decades, is under a court-ordered plan that requires him to make $10,000 monthly payments to pay down the fine and other debts to the state.
He has not paid for either September or October, Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office wrote in documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Washington.
Eyman filed for bankruptcy three years ago, saying at the time that Ferguson’s lawsuit against him, accusing him of the campaign finance violations, had crippled his finances.
Ferguson has requested that a Chapter 11 trustee be appointed who would have the power to make payments from Eyman’s estate and would be able to sell Eyman’s house and distribute the proceeds to his debtors, notably the state.
“Eyman’s unwillingness to be transparent in his financial dealings and his decision to simply stop making payments without explanation requires appointment of a trustee,” Ferguson wrote in court documents.
Eyman, in an email, said he “spent last of the money” paying his lawyer to appeal the judgment against him.
“It drained me dry,” he wrote in a fundraising plea in July, calling the case a “gross injustice and abuse of power.”
“The Attorney General’s scorched earth approach throughout this protracted eight and half years of ‘investigation’ and litigation against Mr. Eyman has financially ruined him,” Eyman’s attorney, Richard Sanders, wrote in an appeal to the state Supreme Court in August. “Everything he’s earned in his lifetime is gone.”
At one point in September, after Ferguson’s office sent several emails and messages to Eyman’s lawyer inquiring about that month’s payment, Eyman’s lawyer responded with a photo, court filings say.
It was a picture of a check and a stamped envelope, addressed to the state.
“But with no postmark,” Ferguson wrote in court documents. “The check has never been received.”
Eyman, in total, owes nearly $5.4 million to the state, a sum that includes $2.9 million that he was ordered to pay to cover the state’s attorney fees and costs over the nearly four-year lawsuit.
Under the terms of his bankruptcy payment plan, if he goes into default, Eyman’s full debt becomes immediately due and begins accruing interest at a rate of 12% annually.
At the same time, Eyman’s wife, Karen, is trying to finalize their divorce, which they first filed for in 2019. Ferguson’s office has requested that she file a new divorce petition, seeking to ensure that their house in Mukilteo remains in both of their possession so it can be used to cover the debt.
“Our concern is ensuring that assets are preserved to pay the judgment owed by Tim Eyman,” said Brionna Aho, a Ferguson spokesperson.
Eyman has spent decades running initiatives to lower taxes and advance conservative policies in Washington. While he has not always been successful at the ballot box and in court, he has had a profound impact on the state’s politics and on the budgets of Washington’s cities and counties.
But along the way he ran roughshod over state laws that require political campaigns to be open about the sources of their funding.
In addition to the heavy fines, the judgment against him bars him from “managing, controlling, negotiating, or directing financial transactions” for any kind of political committee.
Ferguson’s lawsuit against him included charges that date back decades.
Earlier this year, Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon ruled that, in the history of Washington state’s campaign finance law, “it would be difficult for the Court to conceive of a case with misconduct that is more egregious or more extensive.”
Dixon ruled that Eyman “personally benefited economically” from his actions.
Eyman was charged with laundering political donations to enrich himself; accepting kickbacks from a signature-gathering firm; secretly shuttling money between initiative campaigns; and concealing the source of other political contributions.