It’s old news to all but his most fervent supporters that at least part of Tim Eyman’s motivation is self-serving. Whatever you might think of his ideological agenda, you have to admit that he has exploited it to earn himself a pretty penny.
What is not always so clear is how his drive for personal remuneration constantly guides his political strategy. Take for example Initiative 892, his gambling industry backed effort to legalize slot machines. On the surface this was a simple money-grab… an irresistible opportunity to pocket $50,000 running the signature drive.
But it was also an attempt to cling to relevancy in the eyes of the core group of contributors who have enriched him over the years. Tim’s supposed focus for 2004, Initiative 864 (his bizarrely mean-spirited 25% property tax cut,) was clearly struggling, and two consecutive years off the ballot would have hurt his credibility with donors. Tim routinely asks supporters to reinvest their car tabs savings in his latest tax cutting scheme, and he desperately needed to show some hope of a return on investment.
Thus it should come as no surprise that Tim was touting I-892 in a fundraising email sent to supporters today:
With only eight weeks to gather the necessary signatures, qualifying I-892 for the ballot was very costly and the campaign is still paying off debts. The I-892 campaign will not have the funds for TV, radio, or newspaper advertising. Frankly, it’s a struggle right now just to afford campaign signs.
Oh no: I-892 can’t even afford yard signs… if you believe in I-892, you better send money now!
Problem is, the email wasn’t raising money for I-892… it was raising money for Help Us Help Taxpayers, Tim’s personal compensation PAC. Like all Tim’s emails from July through December, it ends with an appeal to send cash to “Tim, Jack & Mike.” Not a dime he raises through the end of the year will go to I-892 or any of his other anti-government initiatives.
In fact, while he continues to use I-892 to raise money to pay his Mukilteo mortgage, Tim isn’t actually running an I-892 campaign at all. I-892’s gambling industry backers simply don’t trust Tim to run the fall campaign; any expenditures on behalf of the initiative will be coordinated directly by the Entertainment Industry Association.
But Tim will continue to publicly promote I-892 as if it were his own, not because he passionately believes in its objectives, but because it gives him something — anything — to keep his name in the press, and contributions coming.
Tim tells supporters he needs to raise money for himself so he can continue to work on initiatives, but the truth is, it’s long been the other way around.