The Commission hears requests for declaratory orders from parties that are seeking more certainty regarding the application of a rule or statute enforceable by the PDC. The process for declaratory orders is outlined in RCW 34.05.240.



Legislator Newsletters Concerning Ballot Propositions

One or more of the cited prohibitions against use of office facilities or public office funds to promote or oppose a ballot proposition would be violated by a legislator using such facilities or funds (a) to prepare and distribute the attached newsletter expressing views in opposition to two ballot measures, or (b) to make speeches or distribute legislative materials for the purpose of opposing such measures.  [Declaratory Order No. 1, issued November 15, 1997]

County Council Questionnaire Mailed During Election Campaign

The production and mailing of a budget questionnaire at county expense during an election campaign would violate RCW 42.17A.555 (formerly RCW 42.17.130) if it includes a cover page which is unrelated to the questionnaire and which draws special attention to a council member who is a candidate.  [Declaratory Order No. 2, issued October 23, 1979]

Group Seeking Incorporation Of A City

A group of citizens which has publicly circulated petitions to a boundary review board seeking to incorporate a second-class city and has solicited contributions from the general public is a political committee and therefore must file reports of contributions and expenditures from the time of its first contribution or expenditure.  [Declaratory Order No. 3, issued March 25, 1980]

Endorsements Of Candidates Distributed Through School Facilities

Distribution through the internal mail system of a school district of a newsletter published by a local education association, which contains endorsements of candidates for public office, would violate RCW 42.17A.555 (formerly RCW 42.17.130).  [Declaratory Order No. 4, issued May 27, 1980]

Recall Petition Is Ballot Proposition When Initially Filed

The reporting requirements of chapter 42.17 RCW begin as soon as supporters of a recall election file a petition with the election officer under 29A.561.110 (formerly RCW 29.82.010)  [Declaratory Order No. 6, issued August 22, 1989]

Reporting Commodity Futures Contract On The Financial Affairs Statement

Trading in commodity futures is reportable pursuant to RCW 42.17.241(1)(b) and should be listed in Section 3.C on the F-1. Separate accounts from which interest is earned is reportable pursuant to RCW 42.17A.710(1)(b) (formerly RCW 42.17.241) and should be listed in Section 3.A on the F-1.  [Declaratory Order No. 7, issued August 27, 1991]

When A Person Becomes A "Candidate"

A person who has neither consented to become a candidate, made a declaration of candidacy nor solicited or accepted campaign contributions is not a 'candidate' within the meaning of RCW 42.17A.005(5) (formerly RCW 42.17.020) merely because a nominating petition is being circulated by an independent group.  [Declaratory Order No. 8, issued May 27, 1992]

A Printing Company Is A Commercial Advertiser

A printing company is a commercial advertiser pursuant to RCW 42.17A.005(6) (formerly RCW 42.17.020) when the service it sells is that of communicating or producing messages for the general public or segment thereof.  [Declaratory Order No. 9, issued July 28, 1992]

Local Agencies Promoting Ballot Propositions

Unless express authority is granted by an independent source, a local agency cannot promote a ballot proposition as 'normal and regular conduct' of the agency, for to do so would be in violation of RCW 42.17A.550 (formerly RCW 42.17.130).  [Declaratory Order No. 10, issued November 16, 1993]

Committee Seeking Creation Of New County

A committee which has been formed for the purpose of creating a new county, solicits contributions for their activities and is engaged in a campaign to obtain the required number of signatures on the petitions to be presented to the Legislature for the formation of the new county is a sponsor of a 'grass roots lobbying campaign' and therefore must file reports pursuant to RCW 42.17A.640 (formerly RCW 42.17.200)  [Declaratory Order No. 12, issued May 24, 1994]

Use of City Facilities to Broadcast Candidate Forum

A city is not prohibited by RCW 42.17A.555 (formerly RCW 42.17.130) from organizing and broadcasting a candidate forum where the purpose of the forum is to educate voters about the candidates for office, each candidate is provided an equal opportunity to participate, and the forum is presented in a fashion that is unbiased and nondiscriminatory with regard to all candidates.  [Declaratory Order No. 13, issued October 24, 1995]

School District Activities Relating To Support Of Or Opposition To Initiatives To The Legislature

An analysis of when and to what extent RCW 42.17A.555 (formerly RCW 42.17.130) and RCW 42.17A.635 (formerly RCW 42.17.190) affect a school district's ability to engage in activities relating to the support of or opposition to initiatives to the legislature.  [Declaratory Order No. 14, issued May 28, 1996]

Petition by the University of Washington Regarding Application of the Public Agency Lobbying Provisions

Lobbying under RCW 42.17A.635 (formerly RCW 42.17.190) occurs when the person making the communication to an elected official, or officer or employee of any agency, intends to influence in a material way the adoption or rejection of specific proposed or reasonably anticipated bills, resolutions, motions, amendments, nominations, and other like matters before the state legislature.

The University of Washington's discretionary funds, and returns on those funds, received by the University under RCW 28B.20.130 do not constitute 'public funds' under RCW 42.17A.635(3) and (5).

The gift prohibition contained in RCW 42.17A.635(3) applies when lobbying occurs within a reasonable period of time before or after receipt of the gift.  [Declaratory Order No. 15, issued February 26, 2010]

Grassroots Lobbying and Exemption from Registration and Reporting

RCW 42.17A.610 (formerly RCW 42.17.160) does not provide petitioners an exemption from the registration and reporting requirements for grassroots lobbying in RCW 42.17A.640 (formerly RCW 42.17.200), given the facts presented. In particular, RCW 42.17A.610(4) does not exempt petitioners because that exemption does not apply to grassroots lobbying. If the petitioners engage in the anticipated activities outlined in the petition and exceed the current reporting thresholds by spending at least $500 in the aggregate in one month or $1,000 in the aggregate in three months on a grassroots lobbying campaign, they will be required to register and report their grassroots lobbying expenditures under RCW 42.17A.640.  [Declaratory Order No. 16, issued February 26, 2010]

In The Matter Of The Petition Of Recall Mark Lindquist For A Declaratory Order

Whether contribution limits identified in RCW 42.17A.405(3) may be applied to Recall Mark Lindquist in light of the Farris decisions [Farris v. Seabrook, 677 F.3d 858, 867 (9th Cir. 2012) and subsequent circuit court opinion] and injunction as well as the factual representations made by the Committee as to its campaign conduct.  [Declaratory Order No. 17, issued August 11, 2015]


In the Matter of The Petition from the Institute for Free Speech regarding pro bono legal work

The Commission issued an order concerning a non-profit organization's plan to provide pro bono legal services to a person who plans to appeal a ruling in a campaign finance court case. The order says the non-profit need not register or file reports with the PDC, nor disclose its donors, as long as it represents the person in his individual capacity in the appeal.  [Declaratory Order No. 18, issued May 27, 2021]


In the Matter of the Petition for Declaratory Order for A Better Seattle

The Commission issued an order following a petition from the political committee A Better Seattle, which supports a recall vote against Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, to lift a $1,000 limit on contributions   from donors. The Commission reviewed a similar request before issuing PDC Declaratory Order 17 in 2015 that suspended enforcement of RCW 42.17A.405 (3) and (14) as applied to a recall committee. The basis for the  Commission's actions was Farris v. Seabrook, 677 F.3d 858 (9th Cir. 2012), a federal case that found Washington State's application of contribution limits to a recall committee was unconstitutional under circumstances   in which the limits do not further the important interest of preventing corruption or the appearance of corruption. [Declaratory Order No. 19, issued Nov. 26, 2021]