See related PDC Interpretations 01-03 (School District Guidelines) and 04-02 (Local Agency Guidelines)
Elected and appointed officials as well as public employees are prohibited from using or authorizing the use of any facilities of a public office or agency, directly or indirectly, to assist a candidate’s election campaign or to promote or oppose a ballot proposition. Public agency facilities include, but are not limited to, office stationary, postage, machines, equipment, employees during working hours, vehicles, office space, office publications and client lists. This restriction does not apply to:
- action taken at an open public meeting by members of an elected legislative body to express a collective decision, or to actually vote upon a motion, proposal, resolution, order, or ordinance, or to support or oppose a ballot proposition so long as any required notice of the meeting includes the title and number of the ballot proposition, and members of the legislative body or members of the public are afforded an approximately equal opportunity for the expression of an opposing view;
- a statement by an elected official in support of or in opposition to any ballot proposition at any open press conference or in response to a specific inquiry;
- activities that are part of the normal and regular conduct of the office or agency. RCW 42.17A.555. “Normal and regular” has been interpreted to mean those activities that are authorized by law and customary for the agency. WAC 390-05-273.
For more discussion of election-related communications by government agencies, see this staff analysis.