Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1974 NO. 1 >

The provisions of § 4 (1), chapter 202, Laws of 1973, 1st Ex. Sess., do not prohibit persons obtaining specific investigative information regarding organized crime activities by reason of their public employment with the state of Washington or its political subdivisions from divulging that information to nonlaw enforcement agencies such as mayors, city councils, licensing departments, legislative committees or other regulatory bodies when called upon to do so in the performance of their official functions and duties.

AGO 1978 NO. 12 >

(1) Because of the common law doctrine of incompatible public offices, the same individual may not simultaneously serve as a port district commissioner and as mayor of a town (fourth class city) which is situated entirely within the boundaries of such a district.   (2) Unless an individual who is so serving voluntarily resigns from one or the other of the two incompatible public offices, he will be vulnerable to ouster, from one or the other, by court action; however, based upon the de facto officer doctrine, even though the simultaneous holding of the two offices here in question is not permissible, this does not mean that the past actions of the individual involved in the position which is not retained would thereby be null and void.

AGO 1969 NO. 12 >

(1) The amendment contained in § 26, chapter 209, Laws of 1969, Ex. Sess., deleting the proviso in § 1, chapter 140, Laws of 1961 (RCW 41.20.085) under which certain police widows' pensions were to be reduced by the amount being received "under social security or any other pension grant," is applicable so as to prospectively eliminate this offset factor in the case of those widows who began receiving such pensions prior to the effective date of the 1969 amendment. (2) The two percent per year post-retirement pension increase which is provided for by § 35, chapter 209, Laws of 1969, Ex. Sess., is to be computed on the basis of the pension benefit payable on the effective date of the 1969 amendment rather than that which was payable at the time chapter 209, Laws of 1969, Ex. Sess., was passed by the legislature.

AGO 1980 NO. 13 >

(1) In the case of a city councilman, city treasurer, or city clerk elected in November, 1975, to fill a four-year term commencing on the second Tuesday in January, 1976, that term actually ended at midnight on December 31, 1979, as a consequence of the legislature's enactment of RCW 29.04.170. (2) As a result of this shortening of the terms of office involved, the incumbent officials holding those offices were not entitled to a full year's salary for each of the four years initially encompassed in their respective terms since the last year of their terms was shortened by approximately two weeks.

AGO 1961 NO. 15 >

(1) An officer of the Seattle police department may not arrest a person within another city under authority of an arrest warrant issued by the Seattle city municipal court charging violation of Seattle ordinances (parking violations).(2) Such officer may not accept bail either in cash or by check in lieu of returning the person named in the warrant to Seattle.(3) A sheriff or his deputy from one county, without a warrant, may not enter another county and arrest a person for a felony offense previously committed in his county except where specifically authorized by statute, unless he is exercising the authority of a private individual in effecting such an arrest.

AGLO 1976 NO. 16 >

A mayor who has been appointed to a county transportation authority under RCW 36.57.030(3) or (4) may continue to serve on the authority so long as he remains a qualified mayor.

AGO 1980 NO. 20 >

(1) Under the provisions of chapter 9.73 RCW, the "incoming phone calls" exception in RCW 9.73.090(1)(a) does permit a police agency to record those incoming calls which are not of an "emergency" nature(2) Assuming the foregoing, however, care must be taken in applying the "incoming phone calls" exception in RCW 9.73.090(1)(a) where the call is received by a police agent who has deliberately induced a criminal suspect, not yet arrested or formally charged, to make an incoming call to the police agency; there, wherever the spirit or the letter of the statute dictates taped mutual consent or judicial authorization prior to recording a telephone conversation with a criminal suspect, the "incoming calls" exception could well be held inapplicable even if single party consent is present.(3) The several statutory exceptions to the Privacy Act set forth in RCW 9.73.030(2), RCW 9.73.090(1)(a), RCW 9.73.090(1)(b) and RCW 9.73.090(2) do not overlap each other in such a way as to render any such exception(s) totally duplicative of another and therefore unnecessary and superfluous.

AGO 1994 NO. 20 >

1.  A board of freeholders elected pursuant to article 11, section 16 of the Washington Constitution to draft and present a proposed city-county charter may not instead draft a charter relating to the county only.  2.  The state constitution requires that a city-county charter specifically provide for the legal status of cities within the new government's territory, and grants broad discretion to the voters in defining which, if any, of the powers and duties of existing cities would continue or change after adoption of a city-county charter.  3.  Cities remaining in existence in a city-county operating under a city-county charter retain authority to annex territory, only if and only to the extent that the charter grants such authority.  4.  All of the voters of a county may vote on the adoption of a proposed city-county charter, including those residing within any incorporated cities in the county.  5.  A board of freeholders lacks authority to use public funds or property to advocate or promote adoption of a city-county charter after it has been drafted and submitted pursuant to the constitution; however, the acts of soliciting and recording public opinion, drafting, debating, deliberating, selecting options, and submitting a charter to the county are all specifically implied by the freeholders' constitutional role and do not constitute an unlawful use of public property.

AGO 1975 NO. 23 >

(1) Although a state legislator may, at public expense, inform his constituents on matters pending, proposed, enacted or defeated by the legislature (including the legislator's own views and/or voting record on such matters), such a legislator is prohibited by RCW 42.17.130 from using the facilities of his office or expending funds appropriated for legislative purposes to persuade or attempt to persuade his constituents or other persons to vote one way or another on a statewide ballot proposition; the question of whether a particular communication is or is not in violation of this statute will depend upon all of the facts of each case including, particularly, the timing thereof as related to the time of the election at which the measure or measures are to be voted upon.  (2) The governor, because of his constitutional responsibility to communicate with the legislature in order to ". . . recommend such measures as he shall deem expedient for their action," may use the facilities of his office to explain, or even, to some extent, to advocate, his official position on a statewide ballot measure pending before the people in their legislative capacity; in the case of other officers of the executive branch of the government, however, the legality of such action will depend upon the constitutional or statutory authority of the particular officer and the relationship of the ballot measure involved to the functions and duties of the office in question.  (3) These same principles also apply, with certain qualifications,21,, to officers of the legislative or executive branches of counties, cities and towns, with respect to comparable local ballot measures.


AGO 1957 NO. 90 >

The offices of county commissioner and mayor of a third class city are incompatible.