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July 18, 2006

Eyman makes false claim in money appeal

Posted by David Postman at 7:30 AM

Tim Eyman is misleading his supporters as he tries to raise money for himself and his initiative partners.

Last week the secretary of state's office said Eyman turned in 266,006 signatures for I-917, a car tax cutting measure. That's 34,347 fewer than he claimed he turned in earlier this month at the deadline for initiative petitions.

He needs 224,880 valid signatures to get the measure on the November ballot, so he could still make it. But initiative sponsors need more signatures than the minimum because many are found to be invalid. Secretary of State Sam Reed's spokesman, Trova Heffernan, told me yesterday that Eyman usually turns in an additional 30 percent. This time he had an additional 18 percent, which makes it unclear whether the initiative will qualify after counting and validation.

Eyman tries to explain the discrepancy by suggesting the secretary of state's office lost petitions. He told the AP last week, "Nothing has changed about our certainty of our turn-in total. We're going to keep after them to get to the bottom of this."

Maybe we should get to the bottom of it before Eyman takes money from supporters for what he claims is a successful petition drive.

His Web site repeatedly makes the claim that the initiative has qualified. And he says that means it's time for his supporters to reward him and his partners, the father/son team of Jack and Mike Fagan, for a job well done:

Each year, from January through June, we ask that you focus your donations toward the signature gathering campaign — this year, thanks to your help, we succeeded at qualifying I-917 for the ballot. Each year, from July through December, we ask that you focus your contributions toward HELP US HELP TAXPAYERS — the compensation fund for Tim Jack, and Mike. Now that I-917 has qualified, we ask that each and every one of you send in your most generous contribution so we can continue our fight on behalf of taxpayers.

Whether or not it turns out 917 has enough signatures, there is no question that as of today it has not qualified.

In 2002 Eyman admitted to lying about his financial take from his initiative campaigns. As a quick refresher, Eyman repeatedly claimed he was not making money from his initiative campaigns but was shown to have worked hard to conceal payments, lying about it to even his closest associates.

The current solicitation for the "compensation fund" is sort of a reform he implemented after that scandal — a way to make it clear when he was raising money for himself and his partners.

Eyman would not talk to me, or apparently many other reporters, about I-917. He said by e-mail last night, "We're dealing exclusively with the Associated Press on this. We have nothing to add to what's already been reported by them."

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