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Tim Eyman follows the money

Post by Kim Bradford on April 14, 2010 at 1:55 pm |
April 14, 2010 1:56 pm

Tim Eyman may be as aggravating as hell, but he’s not dumb. The guy can spot a potential payday a mile away. How else to explain his rush to be first in line to oppose the raft of tax increases passed by the Legislature this week? As TNT reporter Jordan Schrader reported on Political Buzz, Eyman faxed documents to the Secretary of State just after midnight, before lawmakers had even adjourned.

You’d think Eyman would have enough work on his hands getting the restoration of Initiative 960 – which required a two-thirds vote by legislators to raise taxes – on the November ballot. But no. Now he’s filed eight new initiatives seeking to roll back the products of I-960’s suspension: higher taxes on candy, gum, beer, soda, bottled water, tobacco and service businesses. He’s even targeting a tax banks pay on the money they earn on mortgage loan fees.

Being first at the Secretary of State’s office mattered. Business interests were widely expected to fight the tax increases at the ballot box. By beating them to the punch, Eyman becomes (he hopes) the logical person in which to entrust their initiative campaign and financial support. Erik Smith at Washington Wire explains:

In a sense, Eyman is really test-marketing his product. In about a month he said he and his supporters will decide whether to combine individual measures, or drop them. Much will depend on the kind of support he gets in coming weeks. That could mean support from voters or corporate interests. Thus his filing offers a signal to potential backers that the signature-collector is willing.

Eyman may have a spotty history of getting initiatives passed, but he knows how to get them qualified for the ballot. That may be knowledge the likes of the Washington Beverage Association, which has money to spend judging from its full-page newspaper ads opposing the soda tax, needs. The association’s president told Smith:

(Tim) Martin, a Pepsi bottler from Elma, said the first step is for his association to meet and settle on a strategy. The bottlers have never drafted an initiative before, he said. “We’re young upstarts,” he said.

Who better than the initiative king himself to show them the ropes?

This certainly isn’t Eyman’s most brazen effort to follow the money. That distinction still belongs to his 2006 attempt to undo gay rights legislation passed by the Legislature. At least this time Eyman is going after his normal foe, taxes.

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