Tim Eyman’s lawyer, in a court filing, said the gubernatorial candidate and longtime anti-tax activist is the victim of a “judicial lynching.”
It’s the latest incident in recent weeks in which Eyman, or his team, has used inflammatory language to compare himself to victims of racism.
“Mr. Eyman is the victim of a judicial lynching,” Eyman’s lawyer, former state Supreme Court Justice Richard Sanders, wrote last week. “Without any ruling on the merits Mr. Eyman has been financially destroyed, he has gone bankrupt, he has lost his marriage, his family has been destroyed, he has been libeled in the media by the State.”
State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, in a case that has dragged on for years, has charged Eyman with violating campaign finance law to enrich himself, laundering political donations and accepting kickbacks. Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon ruled in February that Eyman has been in violation of Washington campaign finance laws for at least the last seven years, concealing nearly $800,000 in political contributions.
A trial on the full case had been scheduled for July, but because of court closures due to coronavirus, has been pushed back to Nov. 16.
On Friday, Ferguson asked Dixon to impose unspecified sanctions on Sanders, accusing him of filing a “repetitive, unfounded, misleading, and offensive” brief.
“Aside from that term being extremely offensive and disrespectful, particularly in light of current events, it shows a total disregard for this Court’s careful consideration of the law,” Ferguson wrote.
Eyman, one of a handful of Republicans running to replace Inslee, has been in contempt of court in the case for more than two years and is being charged $500 a day for not cooperating with the lawsuit against him.
Sanders, in an email Friday, said his legal brief “is well grounded in fact and law and was presented to the trial court in good faith and in the interest of justice.”
He did not directly address his use of the term “judicial lynching.”
State Democratic Party Chair Tina Podlodowski said Sanders’ language was “appalling but not surprising.”
“The word ‘lynching’ has a very specific historical meaning in this country,” Podlodowski wrote. “If Eyman cannot learn from this transformative moment, and evidence is mounting that he hasn’t, then Washingtonians cannot trust him to lead our state.”
Sanders’ filing is the latest in a string of remarks from Eyman that have used terms with racist connotations to describe perceived attacks against himself and others.
Eyman, in a Facebook post last week, compared the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police to Gov. Jay Inslee’s orders to shut down parts of Washington’s economy to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
“I can’t help but look at that same situation and not visualizing Jay Inslee with his knee on the back of the necks of 7 million people in the state of Washington,” Eyman said. “I take that back, only the people that Jay Inslee says are not essential.”
Asked by KING-5 about the comment, Eyman doubled down, sending out a fundraising email claiming “Jay Inslee has his knee on the neck of millions of people.”
Andrew Villeneuve, executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, a longtime Eyman antagonist, said Eyman is “unfit for office and a threat to civil discourse.”
The state Democratic Party responded by calling on Republicans to denounce Eyman’s remarks.
“Of course the State Democrats are trying to divert attention away from their many failures to talk about President Trump,” Heimlich wrote. “The voters see their failed leadership on full display and they are desperately trying to distract and deflect.”
On Friday, in another fundraising email, Eyman compared the actions of Kitsap County elections officials, in a dispute over the county voters guide, to a poll tax. Poll taxes were historically used to prevent Black people from voting.
Kitsap County, in its printed voters pamphlet, does not allow candidates to talk about other people, although that is allowed in the online voters guide. State code says statements should be “limited to those about the candidate himself or herself.”
The county requested that Eyman, in his candidate statement, change repeated references to Inslee, who is seeking a third term, to “this administration” and said his statement otherwise would carry a notice saying it had been modified to comply with rules for local pamphlets. It later said it would change its policy so that all statements from candidates in statewide races would appear only online.
Eyman responded that many voters depend on the printed voters guide.
“Censoring candidate statements discriminates against these elderly and financially disadvantaged voters and is totally unacceptable — poll taxes were banned decades ago,” Eyman wrote.
Eyman stood by the comparison in an email Friday: “Forcing elderly people and poor people to buy a computer is like a poll tax on elderly and poor voters.”
Seattle Times political reporter Jim Brunner contributed to this report.