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AGLO 1973 No. 2 - January 04, 1973
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Slade Gorton | 1969-1980 | Attorney General of Washington

INITIATIVE 276 ‑- REPORTS OF FINANCIAL INTERESTS BY COUNTY OFFICERS

(1) A person will not be required who is serving as an elected official during a portion of 1973 who resigns or otherwise vacates his office on or before December 31, 1973, to file a report of his financial interests for that year under the provisions of § 24 of Initiative No. 276.
 
(2) A person who is serving as an elected official on January 1, 1974, will be required to file a report under § 24 of Initiative No. 276 where such person resigns from his office at some time between that date and January 31, 1974 ‑ the deadline for filing of the subject reports.
 
(3) A person serving as an elected official on January 1, 1974, will be required to file a report of his financial interests for the calendar year 1973, under the provisions of § 24 of the Initiative even though he did not serve as an elected official during that entire calendar year.

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                                                                  January 4, 1973

Honorable Paul Klasen
Prosecuting Attorney
Grant County
Ephrata, Washington 98823                                                                                                                 Cite as:  AGLO 1973 No. 2

Dear Sir:
 
            By letter dated December 28, 1972, you have asked our opinion on three questions related to the financial reports required of certain candidates for public office and elected officials by § 24 of Initiative No. 276.  We paraphrase your questions as follows:
 
            (1) Will a person serving as an elected official during a portion of 1973 who resigns or otherwise vacates his office on or before December 31, 1973, be required to file a report of his financial interests for that year under the provisions of § 24 of Initiative No. 276?
 
            (2) Will a person who is serving as an elected official on January 1, 1974, be required to file a report under § 24 of Initiative No. 276 where such person resigns from his office at some time between that date and January 31, 1974 ‑ the deadline for filing of the subject reports?
 
            (3) Will a person serving as an elected official on January 1, 1974, be required to file a report of his financial interests for the calendar year 1973, under the provisions of § 24 of Initiative No. 276, even though he did not serve as an elected official during that entire calendar year?
 
            We answer question (1) in the negative and questions (2) and (3) in the affirmative.
 
             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]
                                                                     ANALYSIS
 
            In AGO 1972 No. 29, written to State Representative Irving Newhouse on December 22, 1972, we concluded, inter alia, that:
 
            "The first reports of the financial interests of elected officials reporting as such (and not as candidates) under § 24 of Initiative No. 276 will not be due until January 31, 1974, and these reports will cover the twelve‑month period beginning on January 1, 1973, and ending on December 31, 1973."
 
            The full text of this section of the intitiative is set forth on pp. 3 through 5 of the opinion.  This section, which also constitutes Chapter III of the initiative, requires that:
 
            "Every elected official (except President, Vice President and precinct committeemen) shall on or before January 31st of each year, and every candidate (except for the offices of President, Vice President and precinct committeeman) shall, within two weeks of becoming a candidate, file with the commission a written statement sworn as to its truth and accuracy stating for himself and his immediate family for the preceding twelve months: . . ."
 
            of some eleven different designated financial interests or holdings.  The "commission" referred to in this section is the "Public Disclosure Commission" which is provided for in § 35 of the initiative and the duties and functions of which are set forth in §§ 36 through 38 thereof.  The terms "candidate" and "elected official" are defined in § 2 as follows:
 
            "(5) 'Candidate' means any individual who seeks election to public office . . .
 
            ". . .
 
            "(9) 'Elected official' means any person elected at a general or special election to any public office, and any person appointed to fill a vacancy in any such office."
 
             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]
            In reaching the conclusion above stated in AGO 1972 No. 29, we stated, at page 11 of this opinion, that:
 
            ". . .  Any elected official covered by § 24 (1), supra, who actually holds office at any time in January of 1974, or in any subsequent January, will thereby be required to file the subject report for the previous calendar year in which he held office.  He cannot avoid that duty by resigning or otherwise going out of office on January 2, or January 24, or any other time after December 31 of the year for which the report is due.  . . ."
 
            This portion of the opinion, we think, affords a complete answer to your first and second questions, as paraphrased above.  A person will not, in our judgment, be required to file a report of his financial interests for the calendar year 1973, as an elected official where he is not serving in this capacity on January 1, 1974.  However, where the person in question is serving as an elected official on January 1, 1974, he will be required to file the subject report, even though he ceases to serve in this capacity at some time between that date and January 31, 1974 ‑ the deadline for the filing of the reports.
 
            As for question (3) supra, we can see no basis, under the language of the intitiative, for concluding that a person serving as an elected official on January 1, 1974, is, somehow, excused from filing a complete report for the calendar year 1973, simply because he was not serving as an elected official during that entire year.  Moreover, it should be noted that if this person became an elected official by virtue of having successfully run as a candidate for election thereto, he will have been required to file a report in any event as a "candidate" for the portion of 1973 preceding his acquisition of that status.
 
            We trust 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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