OLYMPIA — Anti-tax activist Tim Eyman has filed to raise campaign funds to run for governor next year as an independent.
If the 53-year-old professional initiative filer follows through on his recently announced plans to mount a gubernatorial bid, Eyman could throw an element of surprise into August’s top-two primary contest.
Several Republican candidates have lined up challenge to Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, who announced this summer he would drop his presidential bid and seek a third term.
Eyman, who is now facing allegations that he laundered political donations through a web of campaign committees, businesses and kickbacks to benefit himself, made the announcement Monday in a news conference at the Secretary of State’s Office.
“Running as an independent I think is a very important thing, and I think it’s not just symbolism,” Eyman said. “The idea is the initiatives we’ve done over the years were about letting the voters vote. None of our initiatives could have passed without overwhelming support by Republicans, by Democrats, by independents, by all of them.”
Candidates don’t formally file for governor until May. Eyman said he came to the Secretary of State’s Office to update his voter registration to Bellevue, where he now lives.
Meanwhile, he filed with the Washington Public Disclosure Commission to begin raising money for a potential bid.
Eyman saw a big victory earlier this month when voters approved his latest ballot measure, Initiative 976, to cut car-tab fees. The measure’s passage quickly drew a lawsuit from the city of Seattle and King County, among others.
But that win has come alongside his legal woes. In September, a Thurston County judge ordered Eyman to disclose the source of nearly $800,000 in contributions that he has collected since 2012.
That order is part of a nearly five-year-old investigation alleging that Eyman laundered campaign donations through a web of businesses, political committees and kickbacks to benefit himself.
Eyman has twice been held in contempt in that lawsuit, which comes from the Attorney General’s Office.
Separately, Eyman reached a settlement on allegations that he stole a $70 rolling chair from an Office Depot in Lacey.
Caleb Heimlich, chairman of the Washington State Republican Party, said Eyman’s potential candidacy is a sign that “voters are fed up of being overtaxed and are fed up with not being listened to.”
“In that process, we’ll see if they’re willing to overlook Eyman’s flaws,” said Heimlich, who added that he’s focused on the Republicans running for governor.
In a statement Monday, Washington State Democratic Party Chair Tina Podlodowski noted Eyman’s legal issues, saying, “Nothing about Tim Eyman’s career of deceiving Washington voters makes him fit to run our state.”