Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1998 NO. 2 >

RCW 42.17.260 prohibits public agencies from disclosing or allowing the inspection of lists of individuals if the requester intends to make commercial use of the information; the prohibition is not limited to cases where the requester intends to commercially solicit the individuals on the list.

AGO 2000 NO. 3 >

1.  A farm plan prepared wholly or in part by the staff of a conservation district, and held in the district offices as a document relating to district business, is a “public record” for purposes of the Public Disclosure Law.  2.  Farm plans held by conservation districts are not generally subject to any exemption from public disclosure, although individual information within a document might be exempt in some cases.  3.  The disclosability of farm plans held by conservation districts is entirely a matter of state law; federal law governing similar documents held by federal agencies does not cover conservation districts, nor does it preempt the state's Public Disclosure Act as to records held by state or local agencies.

AGO 2005 NO. 4 >

1.  For purposes of RCW 42.17.130, which generally prohibits the use of public resources on election campaigns but contains an exception for certain acts of “elected legislative bodies,” the term is limited to bodies composed entirely of persons elected by the people to serve on that body, and it does not include “mixed” bodies of partly elected and partly appointed members or bodies composed of officers serving “ex officio” by virtue of their election to some other position.  2.  The term “legislative” for purposes of RCW 42.17.130 is restricted to governing bodies with the power to enact general laws within a defined geographic area, such as the legislative bodies of counties, cities, and towns, and it does not include the governing bodies of districts created for special purposes.

AGO 2000 NO. 4 >

1.  If a political campaign receives a loan from a commercial lending institution which meets the criteria set forth in RCW 42.17.720(3), and the loan is not guaranteed by any other person, the loan is exempt from the campaign contribution limitations set forth in RCW 42.17.640.  2.  In limiting the extent to which candidates may be reimbursed from campaign contributions for loans to their political campaigns, RCW 42.17.125(3) applies to funds borrowed by the candidate personally but used for campaign purposes and also to funds borrowed by the candidate's political committee but guaranteed by the candidate.

AGO 2007 NO. 5 >

1.  RCW 48.02.065(1), making certain records provided to the Insurance Commissioner privileged and confidential, is mandatory and does not grant the Commissioner discretion to release the records in response to a public disclosure request.  2.  The confidential and privileged status conferred by RCW 48.02.065(1) and (6) extends to working papers, documents, materials, or information disclosed in the course of a financial or market conduct examination to a contractor or consultant acting under the direction of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner.  3.  Records rendered confidential and privileged under RCW 48.02.065 remain confidential and privileged, even if the Insurance Commissioner does not issue any financial or market conduct examination report relating to such records.

AGO 2001 NO. 8 >

When a law enforcement officer prepares and files a vehicle accident report pursuant to RCW 46.52.030 and/or .070, such a report is not rendered automatically confidential by RCW 46.52.080 and is subject to public inspection and copying, except to the extent some other exemption wholly or partially applies to the record in question.

AGO 2003 NO. 12 >

1. The specific campaign finance limitations set forth in RCW 42.17 do not apply to the office of prosecuting attorney, although the related reporting and disclosure requirements do apply to that office.  2. A county prosecuting attorney is subject to campaign finance limitations adopted by a county and generally covering county officers and employees, except to the extent directly in conflict with a state statute.  3. The state ethics law, RCW 42.52, does not apply to the office of prosecuting attorney.

AGO 1993 NO. 12 >

1.  RCW 42.17.125, which governs the personal use of campaign contributions, does not authorize the use of such contributions for nonreimbursed public office related expenses.2.  Prior to Initiative 134, RCW 42.17.095 authorized a public officer to use surplus campaign contributions for nonreimbursed public office related expenses.  Initiative 134 repealed this authority such that surplus campaign contributions can no longer be used for this purpose.3.   Although campaign contributions and surplus campaign contributions may not be used for nonreimbursed public office related expenses, a public office may solicit gifts for the specific purpose of defraying nonreimbursed public office related expenses.4.   If a public officer solicits gifts to defray nonreimbursed public office related expenses, such gifts must be reported to the Public Disclosure Commission pursuant to RCW 42.17.240 and .2415.

AGLO 1978 NO. 24 >

(1) Where a committee which supported a successful candidate for an elective office during 1976 incurred a campaign deficit which remains unpaid at the time of the commencement of the same candidate's next succeeding, 1978, campaign (either for reelection or election to another office), the question of whether a separate bank account must be maintained for or on behalf of the candidate in connection with each such campaign in order to satisfy the applicable requirements of the public disclosure law, chapter 42.17 RCW, will (as in any case) be dependent upon whether the committee was established as an ordinary or as a continuing political committee.

(2) If it is necessary to maintain a separate depository for the 1978 campaign, contributions made to the 1978 campaign may nevertheless be used to repay a loan made by the candidate to his or her 1976 political committee free of the $2,000 per year ceiling contained in RCW 42.17.095(3).

AGLO 1978 NO. 39 >

RCW 42.17.190 does not require a state agency to include, in its quarterly reports to the Public Disclosure Commission under subsection (4) thereof an itemized listing of expenditures incurred by such agency in connection with the submission of requests for appropriations.