OLYMPIA — Tim Eyman, accused of campaign violations, anticipates his legal battle with the state could make it impossible for him to ever pass another ballot measure.
But he doesn’t want to lose the ability to try, he told a Thurston County Superior Court judge, because political activism is in his blood.
“I believe I was born to do it,” Eyman testified in his civil trial on Thursday. “As a result of this thing, I may never be able to ever qualify another ballot measure … but at least I will be able to try.”
His time on the stand marked the end of testimony in a bench trial that has spanned parts of six days. Closing arguments will be scheduled later this month or early next year, after which Superior Court Judge James Dixon will rule.
The trial stems from a 2017 lawsuit filed by state Attorney General Bob Ferguson alleging that Eyman failed to report shifting money that was donated for Initiative 1185, a tax-limiting measure, to the campaign for Initiative 517, which sought to modify the initiative and referendum process. Eyman served as an officer on committees for both.
Eyman is also alleged to have engineered a $308,000 kickback from a signature-gathering firm involved in those initiatives. He is also accused of failing to report as political contributions hundreds of thousands of dollars he received from friends and supporters.
Ferguson is seeking a penalty amounting to millions of dollars, and he wants Eyman permanently barred from directing financial transactions for any future political committees.
Eyman, who spent parts of three days on the witness stand, denied doing anything wrong. He said he followed the advice of financial and legal professionals before making the transactions and accepting the monetary gifts.
He said penalties sought by the state would neuter his participation in politics, a claim disputed by the Attorney General’s Office.
In the months and years before the trial, Eyman and his for-profit company, Watchdog for Taxpayers, was found in contempt for failing to produce documents sought by the state. That’s resulted in more than $300,000 in fines, which he is paying off in monthly installments.
Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @dospueblos