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AGO 1951 No. 136 - September 27, 1951
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

PUBLIC LANDS ‑- AUTHORITY OF DEPUTY COMMISSIONER -- PUBLIC OFFICER ‑- MAY NOT DELEGATE DUTIES AS EX-OFFICIO MEMBER OF BOARD

The deputy or assistant Commissioner of Public Lands may not act as a member of either the Board of State Land Commissioners, the State Capitol Committee, or the State Forest Board.

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                                                              September 27, 1951

Honorable Jack Taylor
Commissioner of Public Lands
Public Lands ‑ Social Security Building
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 136

Dear Sir:

            In your letter of September 17th you asked the following question:

            May the deputy or assistant commissioner of public lands act as a member of the Board of State Land Commissioners, the State Capitol Committee, or the State Forest Board?

            You are advised:

            The deputy or assistant commissioner of public lands may not act as a member of either the Board of State Land Commissioners, the State Capitol Committee, or the State Forest Board.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            On April 21, 1909, Attorney General W. P. Bell advised the Honorable F. P. Jameson, Deputy State Auditor, a copy of his opinion being enclosed herein, that he could not act as a member of any body of which the state auditor was an ex officio member, and gave citations supporting his opinion.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            In an opinion of January 3, 1939, by Attorney General G. W. Hamilton to the Honorable Cliff Yelle, State Auditor, a copy of which is enclosed, we affirmed our previous opinion and pointed out that ex officio membership in a board or any committee was personal to the officer and was not a position which that officer had any power to delegate, or which the legislature had delegated.

            On September 21, 1915, Attorney General W. V. Tanner advised the Honorable Thomas G. Bush, Assistant State Highway Commissioner, that he could not act as a member of the State Highway Board, although the act of the legislature authorizing the appointment specifically gave him the power to perform

            "* * * any act or duty relating to the office of highway commissioner that the commissioner has, and, in case of vacancy by death or resignation of the highway commissioner, said assistant shall perform the duties of said office until the vacancy is filled."  Ops. Atty. Gen. 1915-1916, page 151.

            An assistant attorney general has the power to perform any act which the attorney general is authorized by law to perform, but the attorney general could not delegate to that assistant the power to act as a member of the Board of State Land Commissioners.

            In our opinion of October 22, 1946, to the Honorable Otto A. Case, Commissioner of Public Lands, a copy of which is enclosed, we advised that three of the five members of the State Board of Land Commissioners constituted a quorum for the transaction of business, and that two of the three members would be a majority of such quorum.

            When this opinion was asked for, your office correctly assumed that when the legislature made the Commissioner of Public Lands a member of the Board of State Land Commissioners, it did not make the assistant, or deputy commissioner of Public Lands, a member of the board, and that the commissioner could not do so.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

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