When we last visited the unfolding political drama over Referendum 71, it had been revealed that the Secretary of State’s position that R-71 petitions could be released unredacted was something of a recent development.
Now comes news that the fight over R-71 petitions might have spurred an enterprising political operative to try to get copies of old initiative petitions while the getting’s good. The Secretary of State has received a request from someone trying to determine the costs of obtaining petitions for several initiatives dating back to 2000. Tim Eyman has sent a letter (pdf) to the Secretary of State’s office protesting the release.
The Secretary of State’s office is currently enjoined from releasing Referendum 71 petitions due to a federal court ruling. The Ninth Circuit will hear the state’s appeal next month. If the appellate court decides that Washington’s open records law violates constitutional free speech protections, the case could dismantle public disclosure of all initiative and referendum petitions.
The person looking for all those old initiative petitions: Bryan Wahl, lobbyist for the Washington Association of Realtors (which just came out against Eyman’s latest initiative). The Secretary of State’s office quoted Wahl a price of $1,400 for the petitions relating to 11 initiatives (some are old enough to be on microfilm, which is more expensive to provide). No word from Wahl on whether he’s planning to fork over the cash to get them.