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November 28, 1972
Honorable John Martinis
State Representative, 38th District
2304 ‑ 8th Street
Everett, Washington 9820AGLO 1972 No. 97 (not official)1
This is written in response to your recent letter requesting our opinion on two questions relative to the Federal Hatch Act, which regulates political activities by federal employees and those of state or local governmental units which are funded, in whole or in part, with federal moneys.
Your questions read as follows:
"(1) Does the prohibition by the Hatch Act also pertain to activities in support of, or in opposition to, ballot issues such as bond issues, referendums and initiatives; and
"(2) Does the act apply to elected officials of state or local government, or only to employees?"
I regret to advise you that it will not be possible for this office to provide you with an official Attorney General's opinion on your questions. Simply stated, it has long been the policy of this office to refrain from issuing legal opinions on questions involving interpretation or application of federal statutes (as distinguished from the statutes of our own state) dealing with matters which are under the jurisdiction of a federal regulatory agency. The basic reason for this policy is that where federal legislation is involved, and where this legislation is administered by a federal agency, no opinion from this office could have any possible force or effect on the actual enforcement of the legislation by the federal agency having jurisdiction.
[[Orig. Op. Page 2]]
On an informal and unofficial basis, we may, however, provide you with at least some degree of response to your questions. Assistant Attorney General Thomas F. Carr, who was largely responsible for the preparation of our recent formal opinion to Representative Bledsoe (AGO 1972 No. 7, copy enclosed) [[on February 10, 1972]]regarding our state restrictions upon political activities by public officials, has in the process of preparation of this opinion generally familiarized himself with the scope of the Federal Hatch Act, and has materials in his files which should enable him to give you a general briefing on the questions which you have posed. I am, accordingly, assigning your request to Tom with instructions to contact you, informally, in order to provide you with his thinking with respect to the issues which you have raised.
I trust that this will be satisfactory.
Very truly yours,
Philip H. Austin
Deputy Attorney General