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The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

May 9, 2013 at 12:55 PM

Tim Eyman was paid $112,000 for last year’s initiatives; makes $250,000 loan to new campaign

Tim Eyman (Photo: Aaron Jaffe / The Seattle Times)

Tim Eyman (Photo: Aaron Jaffe / The Seattle Times)

Anti-tax activist Tim Eyman was paid nearly $112,000 for his initiative-campaign work last year, according to reports filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission (PDC).

And he’s kicking off his latest initiative with a personal loan of $250,000.

Eyman says his compensation came from fundraising appeals that explicitly tell supporters their donations will go to pay him and his longtime initiative partners Jack Fagan and Spokane City Councilman Mike Fagan. The money is accounted for separately from his initiative campaign funds — a system set up after a 2002 scandal in which Eyman was found to be surreptitiously diverting initiative-campaign funds to pay himself.

The cash for Eyman’s salary was distributed in early 2013 as “officer’s compensation,” according to the PDC. Eyman received $111,973 while each Fagan was paid $55,986, according to PDC filings. The single largest contributor to the Eyman salary fund (called Help Us Help Taxpayers) last year was Bellevue developer Kemper Freeman, who gave $150,000.

In an interview, Eyman said he’s up-front with donors about where their money goes. “This is how much money we were able to raise from our supporters and none of them are complaining,” he said. “I’d probably make more if I sold real estate.”

Eyman was paid about $85,000 in 2012 and $163,000 in 2011, records show. He also has been reimbursed for about $45,000 in expenses since 2011.

Eyman’s $250,000 contribution to his latest initiative showed up in reports filed this week with the PDC. Though the report lists the money as a straight donation, Eyman said it is intended as a loan — he said he borrowed money against his Mukilteo house, just as he did in 2010 for another initiative. (He was repaid for that previous loan last year.)

Eyman’s new initiative seeks to shame state lawmakers into passing a constitutional amendment permanently installing a requirement of a two-thirds vote in the Legislature for any tax increases. That’s a policy that was approved by voters multiple times, but was invalidated as unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court in February.

To get that initiative on the ballot this fall, Eyman would need to collect 246,372 valid signatures from registered Washington voters by July 5. His initiative campaign committee is using his personal loan to get that effort off the ground — paying $50,000 to a Lacey signature gathering company, the PDC reports show.

Longtime Eyman critic Andrew Villeneuve, executive director of Northwest Progressive Institute, said he found the latest PDC filings odd. He questioned why Eyman didn’t report his $250,000 contribution properly as a loan and why he listed his occupation as “retired.”

Villenueve said Eyman and his allies are “profiting handsomely” from their constant churn of initiatives — a cycle that will only be made easier if another of Eyman’s initiatives is approved in November. Initiative 517 would prohibit interference with signature gatherers and give campaigns an extra six months to gather signatures.

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