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October 19, 1972
Honorable Don L. Talley
State Senator, 18th District
1583 Mount Pleasant Road
Kelso, Washington 98626
Cite as: AGLO 1972 No. 76 (not official)
Dear Senator Talley:
We are in receipt of your letter dated October 17, 1972, requesting our advice with regard to the scope of RCW 41.14.190.
This statute, which is a part of the civil service law for county deputy sheriffs which was enacted by the people through their adoption of Initiative No. 23 in 1958, provides as follows:
"No person holding any office, place, position, or employment subject to civil service, shall contribute to any political fund or render any political service to any person or party whatsoever, and no person shall be removed, reduced in grade or salary, or otherwise prejudiced for refusing so to do. No public officer, whether elected or appointed, shall discharge, promote, demote, or in any manner change the official rank, employment, or compensation of any person under civil service or promise or threaten so to do for giving or withholding, or neglecting to make any contribution of money, or service, or any other valuable thing, for any political purpose."
Your question is whether this statute prohibits an organization known as the Cowlitz County Deputy Sheriffs' Benefit Association from making a contribution in support of a candidate for public office. You stated in your letter that the income of this association is derived from membership dues, together with the proceeds of a show which is sponsored by the association each year.
In our opinion, nothing contained in RCW 41.14.190, supra, prohibits this association from using the funds thus [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] derived to support a political candidate ‑ so long as the moneys used for this purpose come from the general income of the association and not from some sort of special assessment or other special fund raising activity to which member deputy sheriffs contribute for the specific purpose of raising moneys to be used for political contributions.
Beyond providing you with this direct answer to your immediate question, we are also enclosing herewith a copy of AGO 1972 No. 7, which was written to State Representative Bledsoe earlier this year [[February 10, 1972]]as a means of providing him and all other public officials with a general resume of our existing statutes relating to political activities by various categories of public employees. You will find a further discussion of the legal significance of RCW 41.14.190, supra, on page 15 of this opinion, where it is contrasted, in certain respects, with the comparable provisions of law relating to political activities by city firemen and police officers.
It is hoped that this material will be of some assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
Philip H. Austin
Deputy Attorney General