The Tyranny of the law

“the process has become the punishment.” Tim Eyman

One of the most sacred principles of the American justice system is that an individual is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.

The concept is embedded in our Constitution and the Bill of Rights – the first ten Amendments to the Constitution that protect our individual freedoms from abuse by the government. In fact, it has long been said that the Constitution would never have been ratified if it hadn’t included those protections.

Unfortunately, today those protections are under assault and regardless of your political persuasion this is a serious challenge to our individual freedoms.

Let’s examine the immediate case of tax protestor Tim Eyman.

Mr. Eyman has been utilizing the initiative process to challenge tax law for nearly 20 years. His efforts are not always successful but he has been able to get a number of initiatives on the ballot that resulted in saving taxpayers over $40 billion.

His success has infuriated legislators and liberal west side politicians for two decades.

But now Attorney General Bob Ferguson is suing Eyman for violation of Washington state campaign finance law. AG Ferguson is seeking a $2.1 million fine be levied against Eyman and a lifetime ban against Eyman being involved in any future political activity.

Read that again – Ferguson wants a lifetime ban on Eyman for any future political activity.

In other words, the Attorney General of the State of Washington wants to strip Eyman of his constitutionally protected rights as guaranteed to him under the Bill of Rights.

The very first Amendment not only guarantees freedom of the press but it promises that the government shall make no law restricting “..the rights of citizens to peaceably assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Putting it a little more directly, our liberal minded Attorney General wants to violate Eyman’s civil rights to petition the government for a redress of his grievances.

If you think I am overstating the case, consider that in a court hearing in October of 2017 Ferguson’s attorneys attempted to argue that Eyman’s request to dismiss the suit based on his constitutional protections should be denied and Mr. Eyman’s attorney should be sanctioned (fined) by the court for even raising them as a defense.

The court ruled against the state and opened the door to Ferguson having to be deposed himself for prosecutorial bias against Eyman. Score one for Eyman and the American system of justice.

Unfortunately, the case isn’t over. AG Ferguson has now begun to put pressure on Eyman by deposing his wife, who is not involved in Eyman’s political activism.

The result is that Eyman announced as of last Thursday that six years of persecution by the state’s Attorney General has resulted in the end of his 25 year marriage and the need to file bankruptcy.

In the words of Tim Eyman, “the process has become the punishment.”

Unfortunately, Eyman’s case is no longer an isolated incident in American politics.

Consider what we have witnessed over the last two years following the election of President Trump.

The FBI and “Special Prosecutor” Robert Mueller have wasted a small fortune and destroyed the lives of numerous individuals in an effort to find evidence that Trump stole the election with the help of Vladimir Putin.

While some of those convicted by Mueller’s investigation have questionable backgrounds at least one of them threw in the towel and fell on his sword to protect his family. General Flynn pleaded guilty to lying.

This is not the American way. It is a travesty of justice that the government is now using legal extortion and intimidation to beat citizens into submission. It is a tactic that many trial lawyers have utilized for decades to extract damage awards from American Industry driving up the cost of health care. But now our own government is turning it against citizens.
Attorney General Robert Ferguson is running for governor. He has filed over as dozen lawsuits including lawsuits to protect the “rights” of illegal immigrants but he apparently is unconcerned about the rights of American citizens. He is not only unfit to be the attorney general he is unfit to be governor.

What he has done to Tim Eyman and his family is disgraceful.

What he has done to the American system of justice should be of concern to all Washingtonians regardless of their political persuasion.

Update: AG requests a correction

I received an email from Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office today (12/5/2018) claiming I had made an inaccurate statement in my column. Here is the substance of the email:

The writer incorrectly states that our office is asking the court to prohibit Mr. Eyman from all political activity. In fact, we ask the court to prohibit Mr. Eyman from participating in or directing financial transactions for any political committees. He was permanently barred from serving as treasurer for political committees in 2002.

I immediately attempted to contact the AG’s office but was not able to discuss the issue so I responded by email. In my return email I pointed out that I had listened to the entire court hearing held over a year ago in Olympia and it was clear from that hearing that the AG’s attorney was requesting that the judge refuse to allow Mr. Eyman to use his Constitutional protections as a defense. Here is the AG’s office response to my email:

Thank you for your prompt response. You write: " Ferguson wants a lifetime ban on Eyman for any future political activity."
The actual request, as written in the complaint linked in my previous email, is: "barring Defendant Eyman from managing, controlling, negotiating, or directing financial transactions of any kind for any political committee in the future."
If you would like to share your opinion as to the appropriateness of the relief, that makes perfect sense in the context of an opinion blog. I simply ask that the facts be stated correctly. 

So, I stand by my opinion as originally stated. Whether they seek to prevent him from any political activity or just “managing, controlling, negotiating, or directing financial transaction of any kind for any political committee in the future.” The result is the same. He loses his constitutional rights to petition the government for a redress of his grievances

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