In this Jan. 13, 2020, photo, initiative activist Tim Eyman, who also is running as an independent for Washington governor, carries a clipboard as he walks next to his expired car registration tabs before attending a rally on the first day of the 2020 session of the Washington legislature at the Capitol in Olympia. (Ted S. Warren/The Associated Press)

In this Jan. 13, 2020, photo, initiative activist Tim Eyman, who also is running as an independent for Washington governor, carries a clipboard as he walks next to his expired car registration tabs before attending a rally on the first day of the 2020 session of the Washington legislature at the Capitol in Olympia. (Ted S. Warren/The Associated Press)

Attorney General challenges extensive spending by bankrupt Tim Eyman

Ferguson suing Eyman, charging he’s a serial violator of Washington campaign-finance law

  • Wednesday, January 22, 2020 1:30am
  • News

The Associated Press

SEATTLE — State Attorney General Bob Ferguson is challenging the lavish personal spending of bankrupt anti-tax activist and candidate for governor Tim Eyman, saying Eyman’s assets must be preserved so he can pay his debts to the state.

Eyman’s been spending an average of nearly $24,000 a month over the past year, The Seattle Times reported, citing his bankruptcy filings. At the same time, the state is seeking more than $3 million from Eyman, including $230,000 in contempt-of-court sanctions for failing to cooperate with Ferguson’s campaign-finance case against him.

“He’s doing what Tim Eyman does best — avoid accountability,” Ferguson said in an emailed statement. “He knows he will have to pay a large financial penalty for his conduct, so he’s inappropriately spending down his estate to get out of paying.”

Eyman’s expenses include legal fees, a vacation to Orlando, rent on a Bellevue condo, $4,000 a month in unspecified business spending and at least $2,400 to buy 97 Starbucks gift cards during a 10-month span.

He gets a $79 haircut every few weeks, his bankruptcy filings show, and he eats out a lot. The first month after filing for bankruptcy, he ate out on 20 days. Last February, he made 74 restaurant purchases. Last month, Eyman reported meals at three separate restaurants to celebrate his birthday — at Daniel’s Broiler, The Cheesecake Factory and Pogacha.

In June he spent nearly $300 going to the movies eight times, in addition to $450 spent on cable, streaming services and Apple store purchases.

“The family spending is draining the bankruptcy estate and must be severely reduced,” Ferguson, a Democrat, wrote in bankruptcy court filings.

Eyman’s personal, business and legal expenses are paid through donations from his supporters.

“Bob Ferguson wants to destroy me because of my political success fighting for taxpayers — he is demanding more money than I’ll ever have,” Eyman said in an emailed statement. “Bob Ferguson is doing everything possible to drive up my legal costs so that I run out of money in the hope of forcing me to give up.”

Ferguson is suing Eyman in Thurston County Superior Court, charging that he’s a serial violator of Washington campaign-finance law who has spent years laundering political donations, accepting kickbacks and taking campaign donations for personal use. That case, which dates back to 2012, is set for trial July 13, just days before voters receive their primary ballots.

Eyman says the legal fees and potential fines from that case drove him to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in federal court in 2018. The state has been trying to ensure it gets paid for the fines Eyman has already accrued, as well as ones that will pile on top if a judge finds he’s broken the law in the campaign-finance case.

Ferguson is also seeking to have Eyman barred for life from managing or directing the finances of any political committee. Eyman has been an initiative activist for two decades. His latest initiative victory, Initiative 976, which cuts car tabs to a flat $30, will force lawmakers to overhaul the state transportation budget if it stands. A judge has so far blocked it from taking effect, finding it is likely unconstitutional.

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