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Tim Eyman ordered to pay $2.9M for attorney general's legal costs

Tim Eyman listens Wednesday during a session of Thurston County Superior Court in Olympia. Eyman, who ran initiative campaigns across Washington for decades, will no longer be allowed to have any financial control over political committees, under a ruling
Ted S. Warren
The Associated Press
Tim Eyman listens during a session of Thurston County Superior Court in Olympia in February.

Anti-tax initiative promoter Tim Eyman must pay almost $2.9 million to cover the legal fees and costs of Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s long-running lawsuit against Eyman for campaign finance violations, a Thurston County Superior Court judge ruled Friday.

That sum is in addition to the $2.6 million civil penalty that Judge James Dixon previously imposed on Eyman for years of campaign finance violations that Dixon called “numerous and particularly egregious," The Seattle Times reported.

In granting the legal fees, Dixon gave a near-total victory to Ferguson in his nearly four-year case against Eyman, the state’s best-known initiative promoter and conservative activist.

Eyman was charged with, and found liable for, laundering political donations to enrich himself, accepting kickbacks from a signature-gathering firm, secretly moving money between initiative campaigns, and covering up the sources of other political contributions.

In the history of Washington state’s campaign finance law, Dixon wrote, “it would be difficult for the Court to conceive of a case with misconduct that is more egregious or more extensive.”

Dixon had previously granted an injunction, sought by Ferguson, that permanently bars Eyman from controlling any political committee finances. Eyman had long argued that such a sentence would kill his career as a political activist. But after the verdict, he pivoted, saying he would change some paperwork on his political committee, but the “the rest will remain the same.”

“Tim Eyman broke the law — repeatedly — and in order to delay his day of reckoning, he willfully dragged out this case with frivolous and cost-inflating litigation tactics,” Ferguson said. “This decision ensures that Tim Eyman bears the cost of his years-long obstruction of our case — not the taxpayers.”

Before the trial, which ended earlier this year, Eyman was held in contempt twice for refusing to comply with court orders.

In response to a request for comment from the newspaper Friday, Eyman forwarded a fundraising email.

“Bob Ferguson is a cowardly bully,” he wrote. “Using unlimited government resources going after political adversaries is easy. I choose to challenge the powerful.”

Eyman will be paying off the fines and fees for years. He has been on a court-approved payment plan for over a year, paying $10,000 to the state each month, a sum that will increase to $13,500 next year.

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