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Prosecutor denies Eyman’s appeal over voter’s pamphlet


September 13, 2017

Snohomish County Prosecutor Mark Roe on Tuesday denied Tim Eyman’s appeal of the county auditor’s decision to reject his use of the term 'B.S.' in the fall voter’s pamphlet.

“While the term “B.S.” is certainly not shocking or offensive to me; it surely is to many, which also makes it discourteous and impolite to insist on using it in this context, when many other terms will do,” Roe wrote in a Monday, Sept. 11, letter to Eyman.

Eyman, who volunteered to write an argument opposing a Mukilteo sales tax measure for the county’s fall voter’s pamphlet, used the term in his rebuttal argument. He wrote: “Politicians always say the need for higher taxes is ‘indisputable.’ We call B.S. on that.”

Auditor Carolyn Weikel had earlier deemed the acronym inappropriate. She gave Eyman several opportunities to revise his statement, citing county administrative rules that give her the authority to decide whether a statement is “libelous or otherwise inappropriate.”

Eyman refused to change the statement, instead insisting his political free speech rights had been breached.

On Tuesday, Sept. 12, Eyman responded to the prosecutor’s denial of his appeal, offering an alternative word: “Bolshevik.”

“I have been told if I do not change my argument in the voters pamphlet, that my entire argument will be removed and replaced by white space with the caption: ‘No argument submitted,’” Eyman wrote to Weikel. “So unless I accept your partial censorship, I will be subjected to full censorship. That strikes me as tyrannical and unjust.”

Weikel said Tuesday she was unsure whether she would deem Bolshevik an appropriate substitution, but she said she’s ready put the issue to bed.

“What Mr. Eyman has been told and will be told again is that he can use any word that is not profane and does not imply a profanity,” she said. “If he doesn’t submit something that meets the guidelines, I would likely run without it.”

Weikel said the deadline to get the voter’s pamphlet to the printer is Oct. 9.

Eyman said he opposes the government telling citizens what they can and cannot, “especially in a publication that’s only read by voters over the age of 18.”

The voter’s pamphlet is a product of the Auditor’s Office, contrary to Eyman’s assertion that the voter’s pamphlet is a produced by the public, Roe said.

“A local voters’ pamphlet is a limited public forum,” he wrote, noting that constitutional principles give the auditor authority to restrict or condition access to the voter’s pamphlet as long as the restriction is reasonable and doesn’t discriminate based on the speaker’s viewpoint.

“Consequently, I find that the auditor’s rejection of what many may find to be inappropriate, profane language in the local voters’ pamphlet is viewpoint neutral and reasonable.”

Eyman disagreed that the auditor’s rejection was viewpoint neutral.

“If Seattle Socialist city councilmember Kshama Sawant had said, ‘Big corporations are exploiting their workers. We call B.S. on that,” would the government have censored her? I really doubt it,” he said.

In his letter, Roe wrote that Eyman is free to write letters to the editor, send mailings to registered voters or speak to the media in whatever language he likes.

“However,” he wrote, “the local voters’ pamphlet still remains a limited public forum where decorum and discourse are respected and valued.”


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