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AGO 1955 No. 157 - November 07, 1955
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

ELECTIONS ‑- POLITICAL ADVERTISING ‑- ANONYMOUS SPONSORSHIP OF

Chapter 317, Laws of 1955, which prohibits anonymous political advertisements, includes advertising pertaining to state measures such as initiatives, referendums and proposed constitutional amendments, as well as local propositions such as excess tax levies or bond issues.

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                                                                November 7, 1955

Honorable Earl Coe
Secretary of State
Legislative Building
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 55-57 No. 157

Dear Sir:

            We have your letter of September 25, 1955, in which you direct our attention to chapter 317, Laws of 1955, which prohibits anonymous political advertising.  You ask our opinion on whether or not the word "issues" contained in this act includes state measures such as initiatives, referendums and proposed constitutional amendments, as well as local propositions such as excess levies or bond issues.

            Our opinion is in the affirmative.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Section 1, chapter 317, Laws of 1955, added a new section to chapter 29.85 RCW which provides as follows:

            "All political advertising, whether relating to candidates or issues, however promulgated or disseminated, shall identify at least one of the sponsors thereof if the advertising is sponsored by other than the candidate or candidates listed thereon, by listing the name and address of the  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] sponsor or sponsors on the material in connection with its presentation.  The person or persons listed as sponsors of such advertising shall warrant its truth.  The use of an assumed name shall be unlawful.  Whenever any corporation sponsors political advertising, the name and address of the president of the corporation shall be listed on the material or in connection with its presentation."  (Emphasis supplied)

            Chapter 29.85 RCW defines crimes pertaining to elections and prescribes penalties.  It is obvious that the abuses the legislature intended to correct were anonymous political advertisements either for or against a candidate for office or an issue or proposition appearing on the ballot.

            The term "issue" is defined in Webster's New International Dictionary (2d Ed.) as follows:

            "A presentation of alternatives between which to choose or decide."

            We conclude that the term "issues" is broad enough to include state measures such as initiatives, referendums and proposed constitutional amendments, as well as local propositions such as excess tax levies or bond issues.

            We hope the foregoing analysis will prove informative.

Very truly yours,

DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General

A. J. HUTTON, JR.
Assistant Attorney General

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