Initiative 920 will be on the ballot this fall.
What will happen if I-920 passes? Funds for primary and secondary education will be eliminated. Specifically, funds used for reducing K-12 class size, learning assistance programs, financial aid for Washington low- and middle-income college students, and about 8,000 enrollment slots at state universities will be eliminated. All that comes about through a repeal of the Washington State Estate Tax (or the Blethen Tax as Goldy likes to call it).
Dennis Falk is the sponsor and campaign director of I-920. Last June, Neil Modie of the Seattle P-I gave this brief biographical sketch of Dennis Falk,
…I-920’s sponsor, campaign manager and chairman, Dennis Falk, a former Seattle police officer and a longtime leader of the ultraconservative John Birch Society.
In 1978, Falk co-chaired Save Our Moral Ethics, an unsuccessful initiative campaign to repeal a Seattle law barring housing and employment discriminations against gays and lesbians.
“I think it certainly raises eyebrows that some of the leading corporate citizens in the state are funding a John Birch Society organizer, who is paying himself,” Christian Sinderman, a spokesman for the opponents and a veteran Democratic campaign operative, said Thursday. Falk is paying himself $950 a month from campaign funds to manage I-920.
But, Dennis Falk is not just your ordinary ultra-right wing, anti-commie, homophobe, UN conspiracy theorist. Nope…Dennis Falk has a long history of involvement with more extremist groups. In 1986, before being kicked off the Seattle Police Force for “for shooting to death a fleeing, mentally retarded man,” Falk was involved in another movement.
From the Seattle Times (“Group Hoping For End To Income Tax,” Dee Norton. Feb 12, 1986. pg. D.2):
A group of Seattle police officers and firefighters who call themselves constitutionalists want the city to stop deducting federal income tax from their paychecks.
Seattle police officer Dennis Falk and Sgt. Keith Engstrom have joined with 15 to 20 other officers and firefighters in the effort. The group hopes a federal appeals-court case scheduled to be heard in Seattle starting today will bolster their position.
The income-tax war for Engstrom, Falk and the others became confrontational several years ago when they submitted their income tax withholding forms to the city. Falk said he was exempt from paying income taxes.
The group claimed that, because of punctuation, capitalization and spelling changes when the 16th Amendment was being ratified by the states, the federal income tax is void. The courts disagreed.
Who are the “constitutionalists?” At worst, the “constitutionalist anti-tax movement” includes the Freemen movement (originally in Montana) and the Posse Comitatus.
I’ve found no evidence that Falk is personally involved in any citizen militia or other violent movements (except…um…in his former capacity as a cop), but he is more broadly involved in the Christian Patriot movement, as this 1996 article suggests .
What is the Christian Patriot movement all about? From Wikipedia:
The Christian Patriot movement is a loose association of groups and people in the United States. These groups share common interests including conspiracy theories, a Christian theology which places special emphasis on eschatology and apocalyptic matters, and unorthodox interpretations of law, economics, and the United States Constitution. The movement is generally considered to be part of the political far right in the United States, and is best described as a movement which bridges the gap between the more mainstream evangelical Christianity and the more extremist Christian Identity movement, two movements which otherwise have little in common with each other.
The origins of the movement are debated. Some researchers believe the movement is rooted in a wide array of American populist and xenophobic movements, including the Know-Nothing movement, the Ku Klux Klan, Father Coughlin and U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy‘s anti-Communism, America First, George Wallace‘s segregationism, and Barry Goldwater‘s conservatism and libertarianism. Other researchers more specifically locate the movement’s origins in the rural economic depression and overwhelming debt in the 1980s combined with a feeling of disenfranchisement and anger among White males in response to the Civil Rights movement, and Feminism. The movement proper began in the late 1970s or early 1980s, with especially strong followings in the Pacific Northwest and Upper Midwest, with the foundation of the Christian Patriot Association in Oregon and book publishers such as Emissary Publications. Posse Comitatus was a somewhat related albeit more radical movement which was also active at the time.
Some views commonly associated with The Christian Patriot movement, sometimes considered synonymous with the Militia Movement, are generally organized around a belief that world events are secretly controlled by some group such as the Illuminati, the Council of Foreign Relations, international banking families, Communists, Jews, the United Nations, or some combination of the above, and that conspiracy will culminate in a new world order conspiracy, which is either present or impending.
Christian Patriots hold to a strict constructionist interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, and are closely associated with the tax revolt movement. They may encourage people to get rid of their Social Security Number, believing it to be an unconstitutional national identity card, and to stop paying income taxes, based on their belief that the 16th Amendment to the United States Constitution is illegitimate.
Uh-huh…not just your ordinary tax dodger. We can probably best describe Dennis Falk as an ultra-right wing, anti-commie, homophobe, biggot, whack-job UN conspiracy theorist, anti-Semite, citizen activist.
It’s unbelievable that a right-wing wack-job like Dennis Falk could actually inspire a grassroots movement to get an initiative on the ballot.
It is unbelievable because…it’s not true. Initiative 920 is not based on anything resembling a grassroots movement. The majority of the funding or I-920 has come from Martin Selig who has given $807,500 to the I-920 campaign . Big bucks, to the tune of $357,500, have also come from Michael Dunmire (a.k.a. Eyman’s Sugar Daddy). And, as Goldy mentioned, $25,000 came from John N. Nordstrom for the signature drive.
Given Mr. Falks extremist views, one has to wonder whether these people actually know about Mr. Falk and his movement. Or are they part of the movement, too?
(Bonus question: Given the common connections through Dunmire, what is Eyman’s involvement in the Birchers and the Christian Patriot movement?)
Update: I was wrong about Dunmire donating to I-920—I searched the PDC database and got all results thinking they were restricted to I-920. Dunmire dumped his pile-o-money into I-917. I guess that lets Eyman off the hook. Also John N. Nordstrom’s contributions to I-920 to date have trippled to $75,000 from when Goldy wrote his earlier post. I had more to say about that at Jesus’ General Sunday night.