Tim Eyman, who's trying to parlay his years of success gutting services for poor people (like public transportation) into becoming the Republican candidate for governor, held an event yesterday that seemed intentionally designed to help further the spread of the coronavirus.
In an email he sent out to supporters, he wrote, in all caps:
LET'S STICK OUR FINGER IN THE EYE OF JAY INSLEE
Which is both a middle finger to the sitting governor and a taunting joke about face-touching.
He went on to say:
251 is the # of patriots I hope will join me @ Oak Harbor today (3-5pm). I'm bringing 6-pack of Corona!
Of course, last week, Governor Inslee banned all events of more than 250 people. And, of course, Corona is the beer that Republican douchebags who love Trump are drinking to make light of the deadly virus currently killing elderly and people with weakened immune systems.
In his party invite, Eyman went on to say:
Everyone is welcome to join me and Shannon Williams and Erik Rohde and Carol Williams and Michelle Darnell and Avery Hufford and Rene Hollan and Aryeh Rohde and Anthony Welti AND SO MANY OTHERS at my Tim4Gov Meet-and-Greet in Oak Harbor today (Sat, March 14, 3-5pm... Oak Harbor). My GPS shows 1 hour 37 min to get there — not bad at all!
Join us - let's pack the place with 251 patriots.
This morning, I wanted to try to find out if yesterday's event actually happened, so I called Tim Eyman a few hours ago and left him a voicemail. (He has not called me back.) I figured this meet-and-greet for his governor's race must have happened at a golf course club house or something, and I wanted to call up that golf course and see if the event happened and how many people showed up, so I typed the address on the invitation into Google, but Google just showed me a field in the middle of nowhere on Whidbey Island.
But in clicking around on the Tim Eyman for Governor Facebook page, I found this invite to the party:
I clicked on that, and apparently it was a public invitation, because it opened up right away. From there, I learned a little bit more about this party and who was hosting it:
Come meet Tim at the home of super activist Shannon Williams (Please RSVP). location is in Oak Harbor
I'm so grateful to Shannon for opening up her "ranch styled, easy going" home for this. She said she'll "pick up food at the BBQ joint to snack on."
If you're coming, please send her an RSVP.... Let's pack the place.
I don't know if this Shannon Williams is the same as this Shannon Williams, an Island County Planning and Community development official... but it probably is, right? She's quoted in that news story as saying that people don't have "a right" to live in Island County, that "It's something you can earn... People who will be here will work for it." She's also quoted warning darkly of "what happens when things are given to certain people who aren’t making the money to have them." She's talking about affordable housing, which she clearly opposes in her precious community of rich people. So, yeah, definitely sounds like an Eyman supporter.
I sent Shannon Williams an email, since it was listed on the public invitation, asking how the party went, how many people showed up, and what she thinks about "the public health ramifications of her actions" hosting an event at this time for the express purpose of flouting the rules that were established by the governor to try to save as many lives as possible. I also asked: "Are you worried about the mounting evidence that your actions will contribute to the deaths of more elderly people in our state?"
Weirdly, I haven't heard back!
Maybe she just didn't get my email? Maybe it got lost en route? If you know her, ask her why she hosted that party that could lead to more elderly and immunocompromised people in Washington State dying. (And if she gives you an answer, let me know what she says!)
Then I thought: Well, wait. Island County is not King County. Maybe Island County has not had any cases of coronavirus yet, and I'm just looking at this party invitation—in total disbelief—from the eyes of a King County resident, because we've had so many deaths out here.
Have public health authorities in Island County made any recommendations to limit gatherings of people?
Turns out, yes, yes they have. The day before Shannon Williams hosted an event for Tim Eyman where they tried to get as many people as possible to show up to drink Coronas and meet-and-greet each other, almost certainly resulting in helping to spread a deadly virus around, the Whidbey News-Times reported: "Three Island County residents have now tested positive for the coronavirus."
The report goes on:
Island County Public Health Director Keith Higman said [on Friday] the department updated its recommendations on events and gatherings based on the ever-evolving circumstances. They are:
• Non-essential events should be discouraged. Examples include, but are not limited to, parades, concerts, festivals, conventions and fundraisers.
• Cancel events involving more than 250 people.
• Don’t cancel outdoor activities of less than 250 people, provided that people can maintain six feet of distance between each other (i.e. social distancing).
These recommendations were issued for Island County the day before the Eyman party.
Because Eyman and Williams were too busy or too scared to call me back, I figured I might not have any way of confirming that the event took place... except that the geniuses who run the Tim Eyman for Governor Facebook page put up a photo of the party on Facebook!
This Slog post you're reading used to have an embed of that photo right here, but after this post went up, that photo was taken down, meaning the embed no longer worked. Even though I have a screenshot of it, I don't know who actually took the photo, so I'm just going to describe it to you. Picture a bunch of white people standing very close to each other. There are 23 of them in the photo. One woman has an American flag shirt on. A couple men have on ball caps—possibly Trump hats? Eyman himself has his arm around a kid in the front row.
I would love to ask these people why they hate old and sick people and whether they regret anything.
Before the party took place, Andrew Villeneuve wrote on The Cascadia Advocate, a blog published by the Northwest Progressive Institute: "I pray and hope that Eyman’s followers have at least enough sense to realize that this is one cliff they should not follow him off of. It’s bad enough that Eyman has duped so many of them into giving him money over the years. Now Eyman wants them to put their lives at risk, too."
And not just their lives but, more pressingly, other people's lives. If you still don't understand why we need to stop moving around and interacting with each other—it's not necessarily about us, it's about everyone else—please see these very helpful graphics. Alas, none of the people in that photo followed Villeneuve's advice.
As Villeneuve's post concludes:
Tim Eyman has made it clear he doesn’t want to model good behavior and practice social distancing. He not only wants to campaign as though there were no pandemic, he wants other people to join him in mocking the efforts of our elected representatives to keep people safe. That is not the behavior of someone who should be entrusted with the responsibility of governing at any level.
Seattle PI apparently got Eyman on the phone and he explained why he held the party even though it could lead to more deaths. His answer, if I had to paraphrase it: "Freedom! 'Merica!"
Seattle Times has not as of yet covered Eyman's party and its potential health ramifications.
UPDATE: The Seattle Times has also written about the event, writing that "about 60" people attended and that Eyman was "also in the news last year for swiping a chair from a Lacey Office Depot."
UPDATE 2: Tim Eyman responds!