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AGLO 1970 No. 162 - December 30, 1970
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Slade Gorton | 1969-1980 | Attorney General of Washington
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                                                               December 30, 1970
 
 
 
Honorable Bruce A. Wilson
State Senator ‑ Second District
P.O. Box 553
Omak, Washington 98841
                                                                                                             Cite as:  AGLO 1970 No. 162
 
 
Dear Sir:
 
            This is written in response to your recent request for our opinion on several questions pertaining to the scope of RCW 29.82.220, relating to corrupt practices in connection with recall campaigns in this state.  We paraphrase your questions as follows:
 
            (1) Does RCW 29.82.220 make it a crime to advertise in favor of or against signing a recall petition?
 
            (2) Does RCW 29.82.220 make it a crime to advertise in favor of or against voting for the recall of a public official?
 
            (3) Does RCW 29.82.220 make it a crime to offer a reward or make a threat of harm in connection with signing or not signing a recall petition or voting for or against a recall?
 
                                                                     ANALYSIS
 
            The statute to which your questions refer, RCW 29.82.220, reads as follows:
 
            "Evesignatures upon any recall petition or the adoption or rejection of any recall."  (Emphasis supplied.)
 
            Question (3):
 
            Your third question, as a general proposition, appears to be answerable in the affirmative by virtue of the provisions of subsection (5) of RCW 29.82.220.  This subsection stated that every person shall be guilty of a gross misdemeanor who:
 
            ". . .  By any other corrupt means or practice or by threats or intimidation interferes with or attempts to interfere with the right of any legal voter to sign or not to sign any recall petition or to vote for or against any recall; . . ."
 
            Of course, we should caution you that no determination can be made as to whether a particular course of conduct by a given individual has been, or is, in violation of this statute without knowledge of all of the facts pertaining to the conduct in question.  And then, if enforcement by means of a criminal prosecution is sought, the action would have to be initiated by the prosecuting attorney of the county in which the violation is asserted to have occurred.
 
Very truly yours,
 
FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
 
 
PHILIP H. AUSTIN
Assistant Attorney Generalry person shall be guilty of a gross misdemeanor, who:
 
            "(1) For any consideration, compensation, gratuity, reward or thing of value or promise thereof, signs or declines to sign any recall petition; or
 
            "(2) Advertises in any newspaper, magazine or other periodical publication or in any book, pamphlet, circular or letter or by means of any sign, signboard, bill, poster, handbill or card or in any manner whatsoever, that he will either for or without compensation or consideration circulate, or solicit, procure or obtain signatures upon, or influence or induce or attempt to influence or induce persons to sign or not to sign any recall petition or vote for or against any recall; or
 
            "(3) For pay or any consideration, compensation, gratuity, reward or thing of value or promise thereof, circulates, or solicits, procures or obtains or attempts to procure or obtain signatures upon any recall petition; or
 
             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]
            "(4) Pays or offers or promises to pay, or gives or offers or promises to give any consideration, compensation, gratuity, reward or thing of value to any person to induce him to sign or not to sign, or to circulate or solicit, procure or attempt to procure or obtain signatures upon any recall petition, or to vote for or against any recall; or
 
            "(5) By any other corrupt means or practice or by threats or intimidation interferes with or attempts to interfere with the right of any legal voter to sign or not to sign any recall petition or to vote for or against any recall; or
 
            "(6) Receives, accepts, handles, distributes, pays out or gives away, directly or indirectly, any money, consideration, compensation, gratuity, reward or thing of value contributed by or received from any person, firm, association, or corporation whose residence or principal office is, or the majority of whose stockholders are nonresidents of the state of Washington, for any service, work or assistance of any kind done or rendered for the purpose of aiding in procuring signatures upon any recall petition or the adoption or rejection of any recall."
 
            Questions (1) and (2):
 
            In so far as your first two questions are concerned, it is to be noted that advertising, in connection with a recall campaign, is prohibited by this statute only in two specified circumstances.  The first such prohibition is set forth in subsection (2), where the object of the advertisement is to publicize the availability of a person to:
 
            ". . . circulate, or solicit, procure or obtain signatures upon, or influence or induce or attempt to influence or induce persons to sign or not to sign any recall petition or vote for or against any recall; . . ."
 
            The second prohibition with respect to advertising is that contained in subsection (6); however, while this subsection does appear to reach the general subject of advertising for or against a recall campaign per se (unlike the prohibition in subsection (2)), it nevertheless does not constitute any sort of a general ban against advertising in favor of or against signing a recall petition, or advertising in favor of or against voting for a recall of a public official.  Instead subsection (6) simply inhibits the use of funds, etc., from certain out-of-state sources in connection with advertisements or other activities directed in favor of or against, a recall campaign.  Under this subsection, a person is guilty of a gross misdemeanor who:
 
            ". . .  Receives, accepts, handles, distributes, pays out or gives away, directly or indirectly, any money, consideration, compensation, gratuity, reward or thing of value  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] contributed by or received from any person, firm, association, or corporation whose residence or principal office is, or the majority of whose stockholders are nonresidents of the state of Washington, for any service, work or assistance of any kind done or rendered for the purpose of aiding in procuring
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