Later this week I fully expect the Public Disclosure Commission to announce that they are launching an investigation into Tim Eyman and his various PACs, based on a complaint that we filed last week. How thorough an investigation remains to be seen, but I just don’t see how Tim can explain away the facts.
One of the interesting details of our complaint was the request that the investigation include Data Resources, Inc., the firm Eyman uses to produce his bulk mailings. We contend that a $26,000 expenditure from the I-864 campaign paid for a fundraising letter on behalf of Tim’s personal compensation PAC. The only way to truly prove or disprove this allegation is to subpoena the company’s records to learn the details of the June 18 expenditure, so we can learn what was actually mailed out, who it was sent to, and when the copy was received from Eyman.
But once the PDC starts investigating Data Resources, Inc., it may be hard to stop. The company seems to be involved in a number of other unreported or late-reported in-kind expenditures from one committee on behalf of another. And the incestuous ties between Data Resources, Inc., Tim Eyman and the gambling industry raise even more suspicions.
Data Resources, Inc. is owned by Vito Chiechi, one of the state’s most powerful and influential lobbyists. He and his daughters, Dolores and Maria, have made a career representing “sin” industries — such as alcohol and gambling — through their firm, Chiechi Associates.
Indeed, the lobbying arms of the gambling industry are little more than appendages of Chiechi Associates. Delores Chiechi succeeded her father as executive director of the Recreational Gaming Association, the gambling industry’s most vocal representative in Olympia. Maria Chiechi is on the staff of the Entertainment Industry Association (EIC) the organization that has for years been pushing the slot machine bill that became Initiative 892. The EIC’s executive director is Linda Matson, who is also a principal of Chiechi Associates. In fact, in public documents Matson’s email address often appears as “firstname.lastname@example.org”.
As you can see, the two powerful lobbying arms of the gambling industry are run out of Chiechi Associates, whose principals also own and operate Data Resources, Inc., a firm that over the years has consistently been one of the top vendors benefiting from Tim Eyman’s various campaigns… over $215,000 worth of business in the last two years alone!
So when the Chiechi’s instructed their clients in the gambling industry to funnel their money to Eyman in support of I-892, how much of this was a shrewd political calculation, and how much of this was payback for Tim’s steady business? Tim earned $50,000 in salary from I-892, and who knows how much more through his various other shenanigans.
And while I don’t have any hard evidence, I suspect there are other shenanigans. I’ve always been suspicious of the high price Tim’s committees pay Data Resources, Inc. for his mailings. He’s either supplementing his own list with a huge rented list (80,000?), or he is dramatically overpaying.
So, I’m curious… does Data Resources, Inc. or Chiechi Associates ever hire Tim as a “consultant”? Apart from dropping I-892 in his lap, what other favors have the Chiechi’s done for one of their best clients?
It’s a tangled web, I admit. Hopefully, the PDC can serve as a balance on the Chiechis.