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AGO 1951 No. 052 - May 29, 1951
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Smith Troy | 1941-1952 | Attorney General of Washington

P.U.D.'S AND PUBLIC FUNDS.

Public funds cannot be spent upon a P.U.D. "company picnic" nor a P.U.D. "family party."

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                                                                   May 29, 1951

Honorable Cliff Yelle
State Auditor
Olympia, Washington                                                                                          Cite as:  AGO 51-53 No. 52

Attention:  Mr. Lawrence Hubble

Dear Sir:

            You state that you desire our opinion relative to "the legality of a Public Utility District spending funds for a company picnic and family Christmas party, and incorporating same into a collective bargaining agreement with their electrical union."

            You are advised that this office cannot sanction the expenditure of public funds upon a company picnic or a family Christmas party.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            That public funds must be spent for a public purpose needs no citation of authority.  We do not deem the expenditure of public funds upon a company picnic or a family Christmas party as so substantially benefiting the whole municipality as to constitute a public purpose.

            We have heretofore held valid a collective bargaining contract between a public utility district and a union.  We have also recognized that the compensation of the employees need not necessarily be in moneys, but that the submitted proposal constitutes other than the payment of public funds to employees for services rendered is evident from the fact that the parties and picnics are to be "company" or "family."  We are of the opinion that  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] such an expenditure of public moneys on behalf of others than employees, even when pursuant to a labor contract, patently violates Article VIII, section 7, of the Washington Constitution.

            We voice no objection if the funds are no longer public, title to the moneys having passed to the employees for rendered services.  The legality of expending private funds upon a "company picnic" or a "family Christmas party" cannot be questioned, provided the entertainments are not conducted under the auspices of the district in such a manner as to subject it to possible tort or contract liability.

Very truly yours,

SMITH TROY
Attorney General

ROBERT A. COMFORT
Assistant Attorney General

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