by Goldy, 07/26/2006, 1:41 PM

“There’s no such thing as bad press. That’s just the reality.”
– Tim Eyman, June 5, Spokane Spokesman-Review

“I know that government can sometimes screw up, but I know that you can sometimes screw up. And I know that government can sometimes be dishonest, but I know you can sometimes be dishonest.”
– KVI host John Carlson to Tim Eyman, 07/24/06

Professional initiative sponsor Tim Eyman had lied to reporters once again, and man were they pissed off.

It was June 5, just one day before the deadline to turn in signatures for R-65, a referendum that would have put a repeal of our state’s gay civil rights statute on the November ballot. Tim had announced he would be dropping off petitions at the Secretary of State’s office, implying that a last minute push had gathered the requisite signatures. I suppose that would have been big news, so a sizable crowd of print, radio and TV reporters showed up for the event, many driving all the way from Seattle to Olympia that morning, cameras in tow.

But it was classic bait and switch. There were no R-65 petitions to be dropped off that morning (or ever.) Instead, ridiculously garbed in a rented Darth Vader costume, Tim mocked the assembled throng of journalists, refusing to answer questions about R-65 in favor of plugging I-917, his anti-Sound Transit initiative.

“Feel like you’ve been duped?” Eyman associate Mike Fagan asked reporters. “Well, you have.”

This wasn’t the first time Eyman had blatantly lied to the media — hell, it wasn’t even the first time he’d called a press conference under false pretenses. But while the journalists that day were openly hostile, Tim was unapologetic. To Tim, any stunt, any lie, is worth it if it gets his name in print or his face in front of the cameras. “There’s no such thing as bad press,” Tim told reporters that day, repeating a maxim that has defined his career. “That’s just the reality.”


The problem is, Tim and reality have been on tenuous terms for quite some time. It is one thing to spout simplistic, absolutist talking points when promoting a ballot measure, but it’s another thing entirely to actually start believing them. In fact, there is such a thing as bad press, and this week Tim has been receiving it in spades. And from some unlikely sources.

When Eyman turned in the petitions for I-917 he claimed to have collected over 300,000 signatures, more than enough cushion to virtually guarantee qualifying for the November ballot. Yet as I reported last week, Secretary of State Sam Reed’s office counted only 266,000… a number that puts the initiative on the bubble. Well, on Monday, Timmy held an early morning press conference to essentially accuse Reed — a fellow Republican — of losing or stealing 35,000 signatures.

And… well… apparently, nobody believes him. (Tim, that is.)

And I mean nobody. As the Seattle Times’ David Postman pointedly observed, even the reliably knee-jerk pages of (un)Sound Politics dumped on Tim, with the alliteratively named Eric Earling gently calling attention to Eyman’s “problems with the truth” while our good friend Stefan could only muster a meek rebuttal by accusing his co-blogger of inheriting an establishment position on transportation issues, but ignoring Earling’s critique of Tim’s honesty.

But it was in his formerly safe refuge of conservative talk radio where Timmy suffered the most abuse from hosts and callers alike. My 710-KIRO colleague Dori Monson, who is normally pretty quick to blame government incompetency and dishonesty for everything from moral decline to his morning halitosis, clearly wasn’t buying Timmy’s explanation that it was Reed who screwed up. And KVI’s John Carlson, who has worked with Eyman on past initiatives, all but accused Tim of lying. No wait… he did accuse Tim of lying.

I was particularly amused to hear Eyman talk about his own “meticulous record keeping” as evidence that it is his signature count that we should blindly trust rather than that of the SOS… incredible hubris coming from the guy who infamously couldn’t keep his personal finances separate from his campaign finances. But even funnier still is the fact that Eyman’s claims of “weekly reports” and “meticulous record keeping” is directly contradicted by his own statements in regard to R-65.

He wasn’t turning in any petitions. In fact, he said he didn’t know how many signatures had been gathered so far.

“Frankly, we have no idea,” Eyman said, standing there in his knee boots, cape and plastic codpiece. He then launched into a public appeal for supporters to bring their petitions to Olympia.

“Frankly, we have no idea.” And that was the day before the June 6 signature deadline. Yeah… talk about meticulous record keeping.

So either Tim is lying about his meticulous recording keeping now, or he was lying about not having meticulous record keeping then. Either way, he’s a liar. Which I suppose explains why those who know Tim best — you know, people like John Carlson — simply don’t believe him.

All this makes Eyman’s sugar daddy, Michael Dunmire look particularly naive, paranoid and foolish.

Naive? Dunmire, who says he’s preparing to write another $100,000 check to Eyman’s personal compensation fund, told Postman that he’s absolutely confident of the weekly signature reports he saw.

“They keep track. They live and die by them. They’re not wrong.”

Paranoid? What explains the 35,000 signature discrepancy?

“There are a lot of entities that don’t want I-917. They have their own techniques. They send out goon squads to intimidate petitioners. That never gets covered. We play it straight up.”

Foolish? When asked how much money he’d given Eyman this year, Dunmire wasn’t sure:

“Haven’t a clue. When I get a compulsion and think that’s a good place to make a contribution, I write a check. And I don’t keep track.”

He doesn’t keep track? How the fuck did this guy get to be a multi-millionaire?

So here we have an admitted liar who claims he has “no idea” how many signatures he has the day before they’re due, financed by some clueless rich guy who doesn’t “keep track” of the checks he writes… and he acts surprised when we take the word of Secretary of State Sam Reed over his?

The only question I have is not if Eyman is lying about the signature count, but when he started lying about it… and I can’t help but suspect that he knew he was shorting the SOS the day he turned in the petitions. For one of the more bizarre elements of this story is the small piece of notebook paper, date stamped by an SOS clerk, on which Tim hand wrote the number “300,353″… a document Tim calls a “receipt” that verifies his count.

Yeah, right. As if we’re all a bunch of idiots.

I’ve watched Tim turn in petitions for past initiatives, and I’ve never seen him provide or ask for a signature count “receipt” like this before. In fact, I asked Election Director Nick Handy if to his recollection this was standard practice for Eyman or any other initiative sponsor. Handy wrote back:

We are not familiar with Tim Eyman requesting a stamp on a document like this in the past, nor are we familiar with any other sponsors requesting this.

I understand that he was requesting the receptionist at Secretary of State’s Office in the Capitol Building to stamp this while he knew our staff was actually counting the pages at the Elections Office a few blocks away. So, he knew at the time that our office did not know how many signatures were being submitted.

So, um… if Eyman had never asked for a receipt like this before, and he knew that the Elections Office didn’t yet know the number of signatures… why did he bother having this document date stamped?

Because he thinks we’re all a bunch of idiots, that’s why. Because he knew he was short, and he knew he needed something to wave in front of reporters so that he could claim that he was being cheated. Because he thinks the press and the public are as dumb as his patron Michael Dunmire, some rich guy with the gall to think he knows best how to balance a state budget when he doesn’t even bother to balance his own checkbook.

In the end it’s not the lying that’s earning Tim all the bad press — reporters have long known he’s a liar. No, what’s pissing off journalists is that Tim is deliberately wasting their time, disrespecting their profession and insulting their intelligence.

Few people know more about what it takes to qualify an initiative for the ballot than John Carlson — indeed, it was John who saved Tim’s ass on I-200. And yet Tim had the nerve to go on John’s show and wave that scrap of paper around like it was meaningful? Tim had the gall to challenge John when asked why he didn’t photocopy his petitions… like every other experienced initiative sponsor does? Tim treated John and his audience like idiots, and they took him to the mat.

I have been criticized for vilifying Tim Eyman the man while his initiatives have continued to prove popular at the polls (though I should point out that in the three elections since I’ve come on the scene, Tim has only passed a single measure, the largely superfluous I-900.) And while it is true that most voters don’t cast their ballots based on who the initiative sponsor is, this critique misses the role of the press in promoting Eyman and his initiatives, particularly the inexplicable generosity our state’s newspapers have shown in granting him celebrity-status access to their op/ed pages.

Tim has repeatedly lied on his petitions, lied to voters, lied to his own contributors, and unapologetically lied to the press. It begs the question: at what point will Eyman’s credibility be so tarnished — so utterly destroyed — that op/ed editors finally start rejecting his frequent guest column submissions the way they do those of nearly every other crank and political crackpot?

Perhaps, that point has been reached now?

42 Responses to “There is such a thing as bad press”

1. Green Thumb spews:

Terry @ 29, your argument makes sense. At the same time, it also bothers me that folks have become such bad sports that they can’t accept a result. Everything has to be challenged.

Why can’t Eyman be a gentleman and accept that he might not have run such a great signature-gathering process? A little humbleness at this point might even salvage his career.

2. LEFT is RIGHT spews:

Great Post Goldy.

As Tim fades into nothingness, we should all thank him for one thing -

Encouraging you to start blogging and providing lots of material for good posts like these.

Who knows where we would be without Horsesass? And logic then makes me then wonder, where would we be without Timmy?

Goodbye Tim. It has been a pleasure to see you fall flat on your face and take advantage of the PEOPLE’s process of initiative one last and (i hope) final time.

3. JDB spews:


You are right, Given that the Republicans have not won anything significant out side of AG in state government races in 22 years, you are right, you really can’t call that crumbling…, more the dust of the old ruins is blowing away.

But if you are in denial like Boehner, you are going to have a very bad day in November.

4. joel connelly spews:

How can Tim Eyman be “fading into nothingness” when bloggers write thousands of words about him, radio talk shows put him on the air endlessly, and the Associated Press acts as his bulletin board?

5. ArtFart spews:

Timmy appears to equate pissing on a fire hydrant with another 15 minutes of fame.

6. rhp6033 spews:

Yep, Tim only wants his position to get broadcast. He gets upset when somebody else calls him on his lies. Then it becomes a “conspiracy” or a “goon squad”.

7. Mount Olympus Hiker spews:

haha, I-917 is in the rocks!

oh, and mark the redneck, you need to pay your debt…

8. thor spews:

The newspapers will keep running Tim Eyman’s op-eds as long as the Olympia Bureau of the Associated Press continues to unwittingly serve as Eyman’s chief publicity machine and the newspapers, radio and TV stations in the state keep lazily pasting the AP’s stories on Eyman into their scarce space.

The best strategy is to just ignore the guy. His costume based stunts reveal his fear that the things he has to say just don’t mean much anymore. The costumes are part of a desperate attempt to keep the news media publicizing his stupidities. He’s noticed he’s not getting the attention he needs to keep his political business running.

9. Observer spews:

Goly, you continue to take yourself too seriously, as do all your moonbat morons. Yeah, JDB, we are crumbling under the weight of you and your outerspace thinking.


10. HAD ENOUGH YET? spews: refused to even name the cocksucker, refering to him only as “an I-917 sponsor”, “a gorilla, Darth Vader or is it just a perennial gadfly”.
I think that from now on we should all live up to the spirit of Goldy’s initiative and simply refer to him exclusively as The Horsesass.
Just look at what a little guerilla activism did for the name

11. pRhstwehrT spews:

6tzZoEXdne DGGH5G0NRHf SvFtKxcB7f8Vbu

12. JDB spews:


There is a count of petitions before they are archived (not signatures). That takes place in front of people who submit the petitions. That is when they are removed from their boxes. They are escorted to the archivist by the State Patrol. They are then archived and then there is a signature count (since not all petitions have all their signatures). I’m not sure but I think the State Patrol monitors all these steps to preserve the chain of custody. Tim has never argued over the petition count (listen to him on Dori Monson, link over at

If there are now the same number of petitions, then checking to see how many signatures is a piece of cake. Since Tim is not claiming that any petitions have gone missing since they arrived a the Secretary of State’s office, it would seem case solve.

Plus, has Tim ever made a hand written “receipt” of the number of signatures he claims to have submitted before? How nice that he did so this time.

No one else has had a problem. Tim is a proved, admitted liar. This is not that hard.

13. rhp6033 spews:

I love this part of the quote from Dunmire:

“There are a lot of entities that don’t want I-917. They have their own techniques. They send out goon squads to intimidate petitioners. That never gets covered. We play it straight up.”

I can almost hear Tim saying those exact words to him, as an excuse for why he can’t meet his promises to Dunmire. But, of course, to Tim a “Goon Squad” would include anybody who stood by a petition table and pointed out that the paid petition signature gatherers were misinformed at best, or lying through their teeth at worst.

14. lHOeq2zYaE spews:

X6YRygdZnDBSo 6bipxfdNfi3ZPo 7JBMjl22I3jZb

15. i1ClqeIfNP spews:

BC5cJrDpYG wtOxxmeBFE97 SVRVIhqvEhFF

16. Green Thumb spews:

Smokin, that’s really funny. Please keep writing your short stories on whatever topic strikes your fancy.

17. smokin in the boys room spews:

Tim had drunk all the Johnny Walker Red and was fumbling around in the kitchen, rummaging through the cupboards —— I could hear him cursing as he smashed dishes in his frustration.

I looked over at Stephan. He’d been hitting the bottle all afternoon, and that —— and all those Oxycodins he was taking for his “back pain” —— had left him in a semi-comatose stupor. Drool ran down his lip. He lay on the couch clad only in a pair of dirty, seamen-stained briefs. Suddenly, he sat up, his eyes were blood-shot and fevered, he mumbled something that sounded like, “Hey, Tim, what the fuck you lookin’ fer? those missin’ 34,000 names?

18. LeftTurn spews:

The right seems to thinking lying is just the way to do business. It’s how they approach everything. Timmy Lieman is an example of that and it’s about time that the few (all three) honest republicans in this state distance themselves from this fucking lying crook.

19. Curious George spews:

Tim who????

20. Thomas Trainwinder spews:


21. JDB spews:

The right is seeing their entire empire crumble. Take this local example courtesy of Wonkette:

Majority Leader John Boehner is back in The Hill today, anchoring a story about less-experienced Republican House members scurrying to pass some legislation before the election. If you’re Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), say, it’s a boost to say you passed a law to “improve communications between emergency first responders” before you head back to a district of Michael Steele-minded voters. But does Boehner get why they’re in a rush? He sounds a lot like Kevin Bacon trying to stop the bedlam of everyone in town fleeing Delta House’s monstrous float. “ALL IS WELL!”

“Everybody wants their bill up this week,” the majority leader said during his weekly off-camera press briefing yesterday. “It is as if we were never coming back.”

Yeah. As if.

22. rwb spews:

Now let’s hope that the main stream media relegates this guy to the place he should have been all along: the irrelevant bin

23. CarlBallard spews:

As I said in the podcast, if this is standard procedure, and he keeps good records, surely he can show us the other times he’s had the SOS’s office give him a receipt.

PS, when is the podcast getting up?

24. HAD ENOUGH YET? spews:

The P.I.’s editorial refused to even name the cocksucker, refering to him only as “an I-917 sponsor”, “a gorilla, Darth Vader or is it just a perennial gadfly”.
I think that from now on we should all live up to the spirit of Goldy’s initiative and simply refer to him exclusively as The Horsesass.
Just look at what a little guerilla activism did for the name The P.I.’s editorial. refused to even name the cocksucker, refering to him only as “an I-917 sponsor”, “a gorilla, Darth Vader or is it just a perennial gadfly”.
I think that from now on we should all live up to the spirit of Goldy’s initiative and simply refer to him exclusively as The Horsesass.
Just look at what a little guerilla activism did for the name Santorum.

had to repost to fix my screwed up tags

25. rhp6033 spews:

Gee, I’ve never been involved in the initiative process before, but I have handled (and transferred) a large number of legally important documents before. There is a simple solution, used in offices all the time. You simply number each document. They have a mechanical stamp which will do it for you – every time you stamp a document, it advances to the next number. It might take a while, but it would be a life-saver in a dispute such as this one.

So now you have a unique identifier for each document. If you then photocopy the documents, you have the ability to cross-reference and examine any discrepencies. If the Secty of State says you don’t have all the documents, you give him a spreadsheet showing the numbered petitions and the number of signatures on each petition, and ask him to identify which ones are “missing”.

But hey, that’s just a common-sense business approach to handling legally important documents, one which anyone involved in a business of any size would know. Apparantly Tim’s “organization” doesn’t have such experience.

26. Julie Wilson spews:

If Eyman’s cronies are the ones that weighed the boxes and it was not in front of the SOS witness then the weight on the box means nothing…he and his cronies could put any weight amount on the box..they could weigh them and write a heavier weight on the box…the weight means nothing unless the weighing was done in front of both parties. Eyman is nothing but a con and it makes me sick watching the press and public get suckered by this lying egotist. I agree best thing to do is ignore this con man.

27. The Socialist spews:

I have been threw with iman for years now. I did vote for the tabs thing twise but now I realize he is nothing but a right wing hack.

28. klake spews:

Yep, Tim only wants his position to get broadcast. He gets upset when somebody else calls him on his lies. Then it becomes a “conspiracy” or a “goon squad”.

Comment by rhp6033— 7/26/06@ 2:41 pm
Rhp you mean like Kerry “I vote for the War and I didn’t vote for the War”. What about Bill Clinton with the part explaining what the word is “is”. Hillary complaining about the Christians conspiring to impeach her husband when he was bombing Yugoslavia. Al Gore claiming he invented the internet when he was running the country. They all are looking for attention from the press or trying to deflect them from their short comings.

29. soundcrossing spews:

The right hates things like this. While I have agreed, in principle, with a couple of his initiatives, most of them have been pure crap. Self serving propogandising bullshit. It’s about time other conservatives, including talk show hosts I listen to, took a look at what Eyeman is all about.

30. soundcrossing spews:

JDB @ 12:

That is an amazing point. Look at the sorry state of affairs WA is in regarding; transportation, taxes, DSHS, Emergency Services, and the list goes on. Now just take your quote about how long Dems have basically been in charge of this state and go OH SHIT we are responsible.

31. Green Thumb spews:

“Oh Well Matt what’s keeping you here in this state run by a bunch of Socialist Democrats? You are shy a half million to get into Canada? You could swim the Frazer River it’s not as bad as the Rio Grand and you can buy your pot to mellow out.. Well life is really tough when you are different and nobody loves you.” — klake, 7/26/06

Klake, let me guess: You consider yourself a good Christian. It really comes through in your comment.

32. Mark The Redneck spews:

Hey Goldy – Howzit going on saving the taxpayers your first billion dollars? How much ya up to so far?

Admit it… you’d love to have even a tiny fraction of the political impact that Tim has already had.

He doesn’t just blog and bitch like a fucking loser like you. He gets off his ass and does stuff that works.

33. Daddy Love spews:

Did you guys see MTR in another thread complaining about how Tim Eyman had “a receipt from the Secreatary of State?” It was funny as all hell.

34. Anonymous spews:

Dunsmire? Is that you? OMG

35. JDB spews:

Mark the Yellowback:

Tim hasn’t save the state shit. He has cost it tons with the legal bills over his badly drafted intiatives, delays in road construction and partial funding of local services. All in the name of his ego. If one of those fancy email degrees meant anything, you would realize how stupid you sound.

36. Terry Jay spews:

Tne next receipt the Secty of State issues will state the number of boxes and the weight, ‘said to contain…’, and the SOS will have the foresight to retain the boxes until the counting is over.

Tim may or may not be truthful, but Sam Reed is not playing the role of brightest tulip in the field. Anyone here got a scale they can loan Sam?

37. JDB spews:


You forgot George Bush we won’t spy without a warrant, There are weapons of Mass Distruction, and forcing Colin Powel to lie at the UN. Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice talking about Mushroom clouds and being received with flowers. The White House denying that Dick Cheney or Karl Rove had anything to do with the outing of a CIA agent. The White House saying that experimenting with stem cells is murder. The White House having a gay prostitute to ask soft ball questions of the George Bush whenever he was in trouble. The White House saying that Abramoff only visited two times and refusing to release any pictures of his visits.

Oh, and let’s not forget George Bush claiming to be a compassionate conservative.

No wonder the Clinton administration looks so good now.

No wonder the Clinton administration looks so good now. Peace, prosperity and real leadership versus ideological mismanagement.

38. JDB spews:

Terry Jay:

Why should he weigh the boxes and keep them when he counts the number of petitions right in front of the people who submit them? Note, Tim has never argued that the number of petitions are wrong.

Tim is always lying, and no one has yet to explain how anything could have gone wrong given all the security and the checks and balances.

39. Janet S spews:

Eyman is no dummy. He found a sponsor to pay him to run an iniative campaign. If he keeps us the charade, the guy keeps paying him. Who cares what the truth is?

Problem is, it is starting to catch up with him. His name attached to an iniative will actually keep people from signing what might be a good idea.

Goldy is right, he will fade into obscurity. But he will have made a lot of money in the mean time.

40. Green Thumb spews:

Tim Eyman filled an important need for Republican and business interests. Even if he fades into the sunset someone else will eventually take his place. The next initiative kingpin will have learned from Eyman’s mistakes — as well as his considerable successes.

That’s why it is important to not be personality focused. The trouble isn’t with Eyman per se — it is with what Daniel Kemmis refers to as the “demolition derby” model of politics. Initiatives are merely a tool in this destructive dance; so are blog flame throwers.

We live in a time where it has become exceptionally hard to solve pressing problems by bringing contending forces together to hammer out a direction that everyone may not like, but that they can at least live with.

I don’t think you have any chance of achieving a policy agreement when the contending forces refuse to really listen to each other and acknowledge when others say something that makes sense to them. Take-no-prisoners debating tactics are toxic to democratic process, particularly when they become downright abusive.

41. Roger Rabbit spews:

Man oh man, after reading this article, I feel real sure I don’t ever want Mr. Dunsmire managing my investments.

42. Terry Jay spews:

JDB @ 25
The Secty of State does not count them in front of the people who submit them. They (SOS) say they send them to the archivist for copying (microfilming? scanning?) and then count them. Looks like about a week goes by between the submission date and the SOS announcement of the count. In the meantime they recycle the boxes.

There is no audit I am aware of on the chain of custody in the Secty of State’s office, or of their procedures. They may or may not be tight and correct. But if you ship them off to the archivist and destroy the boxes they came in, how do you know you got back what you sent out? I don’t know the answer here, and am not taking sides, but if Eyman submitted (for example— made up numbers) 153 boxes weighing 867 pounds said to contain petitions bearing 303,000 signatures, somebody get the SOS a scale and 153 similar boxes and have him weigh them. Tim says he has a box count and a weight. Tell us what it was Tim, and have the SOS weigh what he has. If there are 35,000 missing signatures, I would guess that would be around 50 to 75 pounds. What is the SOS weight compared to Tim’s weight?

It wouldn’t be the first box ever lost in transit. Or the first fraudulent missing box claim.

But the bigger point is the SOS ought to have a simple and quantifiable procedure for accepting petitions, and box count and weight are pretty straight-forward.