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AGLO 1973 No. 15 - January 29, 1973
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Slade Gorton | 1969-1980 | Attorney General of Washington

EMPLOYEES ‑- CIVIL SERVICE ‑- POLITICAL ACTIVITIES ‑- FEDERAL FUNDING

Repeal of RCW 41.06.250 (4) would have no impact on eligibility of state to continue receiving federal funding.

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                                                                 January 29, 1973

Honorable Rick Smith
State Representative, 23rd District
Legislative Building
Olympia, Washington 98504                                                                                                               Cite as:  AGLO 1973 No. 15

Dear Sir:

            By recent letter you have directed our attention to RCW 41.06.250, governing political activities by state civil service employees which provides, in material part, as follows:

            ". . .

            "(2) Employees shall have the right to vote and to express their opinions on all political subjects and candidates, but shall not hold any political party office or participate in the management of a partisan, political campaign.  Nothing in this section shall prohibit a classified employee from participating fully in campaigns relating to constitutional amendments, referendums, initiatives, and issues of a similar character, and for nonpartisan offices.

            "(3) Nothing in this section shall prohibit appointment, nomination or election to part time public office in a political subdivision of the state when the holding of such office is not incompatible with, nor substantially interferes with, the discharge of official duties in state employment.

            "(4) For persons employed in state agencies the operation of which is financed in total or in part by federal grant-in-aid funds political activity will be regulated by the rules and regulations of the United States civil service commission."

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            You have stated that you are interested in sponsoring a bill designed to amend this statute so as to delete the provisions of subsection (4) in its entirety.  You are concerned, however, that such legislation might violate some federal requirement for state agency funding in accordance with the federal Hatch Act.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            We have reviewed the Hatch Act (5 U.S.C. §§ 1501-1508) and related statutes and find nothing contained therein which would require a state, as a condition to eligibility for federal funding, to have a provision such as subsection (4) in its code of conduct for state civil service employees.  Moreover, you might be interested in noting the fact that when, in 1969, the legislature removed the nonfaculty personnel of our state universities, colleges and community colleges from the coverage of chapter 41.06 RCW and, instead, established a separate civil service system for these personnel by its enactment of chapter 36, Laws of 1969, Ex. Sess., it omitted the inclusion of any form of counterpart to RCW 41.06.250,supra.  See, AGO 1972 No. 7, copy enclosed, at pages 12 and 13, in which we also thereafter discussed the status of those state or local governmental employees who are, by the nature of the activities in which they are engaged, covered by the federal Hatch Act with respect to their political activities.

            Obviously, of course, the Hatch Act restrictions themselves will continue to apply to those state or local employees who are subject to its provisions ‑ irrespective of whether the bill you are considering is enacted or not.  However, we do not believe that the enactment of this bill would have any effect upon the continuing eligibility of the state of Washington or its agencies for federal funding.

            It is hoped that the foregoing will be of some assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

SLADE GORTON
Attorney General


PHILIP H. AUSTIN
Deputy Attorney General

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