A full pardon of one convicted of bribery restores his eligibility to hold public office.
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April 28, 1950
Honorable Earl Coe
Secretary of State
Olympia, Washington Cite as: AGO 49-51 No. 264
Attention: !ttMr. Kenneth Gilbert
Superintendent of Elections
Receipt is acknowledged of your letter requesting our opinion as to whether a full pardon restoring civil rights to one convicted of bribery will restore his right thereafter to hold a position of honor, trust or profit in the state.
It is our conclusion that a full pardon restoring civil rights will have the effect of removing from one convicted of bribery any disqualification from holding office.
Section 30, Article II, of the State Constitution provides in part
"The offense of corrupt solicitation of members of the legislature, or of public officers of the state or any municipal division thereof, and any occupation or practice of solicitation of such members or officers to influence their official action, shall be defined by law, and shall be punished by fine and imprisonment * * * and any person convicted of either of the offenses aforesaid [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] shall, as part of the punishment therefor, be disqualified from ever holding any position of honor, trust, or profit in this state. * * *"
It will be noted that the disqualification from thereafter holding office is specified to be a part of the punishment. Section 9, Article II, of the Constitution provides:
"The pardoning power shall be vested in the governor, under such regulations and restrictions as may be prescribed by law."
The legislature has never prescribed any regulations or restrictions upon the pardoning power although it has undertaken to regulate paroles. In re Costello, 22 Wn. (2d) 697, 157 P. (2d) 713. The governor's pardoning power is unrestricted. In the case ofState v. Hazzard, 139 Wash. 487, 247 Pac. 957, our Supreme Court discussed the effect of a full pardon. It said:
"The very essence of a pardon is forgiveness or remission of penalty."
In that case while the court held that one convicted of a crime could not thereafter obtain a license to practice medicine notwithstanding a full pardon, it remarked:
"* * * Now if the revocation of the license of appellant can be said to be a portion of the penalty provided by law upon conviction of crime of manslaughter, then it might reasonably be argued that the pardon which releases from the penalty would return the license. * * *"
Again, in the case ofState v. Cullen, 14 Wn. (2d) 105, 127 P. (2d) 257, our Supreme Court pointed out:
"Our cases proceed upon the theory that an unconditional pardon goes no further than to restore the accused to his civil rights and remit the penalty imposed for the particular offense of which he was convicted in so far as it remains unpaid. * * *"
[[Orig. Op. Page 3]]
Notwithstanding that the effect of a pardon is not to obliterate the offense entirely, our Supreme Court has consistently held that it may relieve the offender of the penalties. Since section 30, Article II, of the Constitution, does not prescribe the disability from holding office as a matter of status of one convicted of bribery, but rather specifies that it shall be a part of the punishment, it is our opinion that this portion of the punishment, like every other portion, is subject to the pardoning power and the disability is eliminated by a full pardon.
Very truly yours,
LYLE L. IVERSEN
Assistant Attorney General