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Pastor questions Eyman's motives, says he broke agreement
Posted by David Postman at 7:54 PM
(See update below for Eyman's charge he is being blackmailed.)
Joseph Fuiten, chairman of the Faith and Freedom Network and the pastor who worked most closely with Tim Eyman on the anti-gay rights initiative, has new details and new criticisms of Eyman's role in the campaign.
In an e-mailed statement tonight Fuiten said Eyman broke his agreement with religious leaders and when questioned, essentially lawyered up and refused to talk to his partners in the Christian community. Fuiten also questions Eyman's motives for taking on a campaign to repeal the gay rights law.
"We printed up thousands of petitions with our return address on them. We wanted to promote the effort and keep tabs on the progress. Tim Eyman was very upset by our plans and communicated the same to many. He wanted all the petitions to bear only his name so all the forms would go to his office in Spokane. In exchange for Faith and Freedom Network stepping out of the role we had planned, Tim agreed to allow us access to the petitions as they came in. We withdrew our petitions and everything flowed through Tim's office. When we requested access to the information as he had agreed with me, Tim told us to have our lawyer contact his lawyer. He broke the agreement without even talking to me, and kept us in the dark thereafter as to the progress.
Fuiten and others in his group have been critical of Eyman's role. But this is the most pointed, and most detailed, critique yet.
Eyman has been uncharacteristically defensive about the failure of R-65. He has been e-mailing reporters statements from other religious leaders with good things to say, but who were not as actively involved as Fuiten. He also sent a massive e-mail excerpting every piece of reporting and every quote that would explain the defeat on something other than what the pastors say were his own short-comings.
Eyman forwarded a message from Restore America, which defended Eyman and took a shot at Fuiten and his allies:
"No doubt, you are aware of the public lashing Tim Eyman has received over the failed R-65 campaign, and not only from the media, which was expected, but also from a couple of self-appointed spokespersons for the Washington State faith community. I can assure you these men and their organization speak only for themselves."
Restore America is an Oregon group. Another group, Sound the Alarm, blamed R-65's failure on a failure of faith:
"It would be easy to blame others at this time when the blame should fall squarely on us. I'm not talking about political missteps or lack of organization that brought us to where we are today. I'm talking about the condition of the Church of Jesus Christ in Washington State."
UPDATE: Eyman just sent an e-mail that includes what he says is a transcript of a phone message left earlier today on his cell phone by Fuiten:
"Tim, Joe Fuiten calling. I'm in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Hey, I would still like to get those names on the petitions. And I have a proposal for you: if you turn over to me the petitions, I will make sure that nothing more is said in public by Faith & Freedom, or in private for that matter by any of us or me or my employees or whoever, that would be negative of you. That's my suggestion to you. We agreed you'd turn those names over to us in our agreement and I would like for you to follow through on that even at this stage of the game. You've got my cell phone number 425-###-#### or an email, either one. Thank you, sir. Bye."
Eyman said in his e-mail to reporters and supporters:
We're not going to be intimidated or blackmailed into allowing these citizens who signed these petitions to have their names and addresses used by Faith & Freedom and anyone else to do anything other than seeking a public vote on HB 2661.
Was Fuiten blackmailing Eyman or was he giving Eyman one more chance to turn over the petitions as he had promised? Certainly Fuiten is playing hardball.
Eyman is well used to being criticized and even demonized by opponents, from the Legislature, local governments, Democrats, mass transit advocates, David Goldstein and editorial writers and columnists across the state. But Fuiten was an ally, not an opponent. He had an inside view of how Eyman operates. He clearly has gotten under Eyman's skin.
Here's the full text of Fuiten's statement:
Dr. Fuiten's Response to Washington Referendum 65