Limits on Publicly Funded Lobbying

General authority for public agencies to engage in state-level lobbying is found in RCW 42.17A.635(3).  However, that authority is also restricted in the sense that unless agencies are granted specific authorization elsewhere in statute, they must restrict their publicly supported lobbying activities to providing information or communicating on matters pertaining to official agency business or advocating the official position or interests of the agency.  Furthermore, agencies must limit their communication to direct communication with elected officials or officer or employee of any agency.  Public funds may not be spent as a direct or indirect gift or campaign contribution to any elected official, officer or employee of any agency.

Gifts and Entertainment

"Gift" means "anything of economic value for which no consideration is given."  RCW 42.52.010(10).

Expenditures made for the purpose of entertaining legislators, other state elected officials or state employees -- regardless of the cost of the entertainment -- are considered gifts and may not be directly or indirectly paid with public funds

Reimbursements

In addition to this general prohibition against using public funds to provide gifts to state elected officials and employees in conjunction with lobbying, according to the Office of Financial Management (OFM), state employees may not be reimbursed by the state for entertaining officials.  See Washington Administrative & Accounting Manual, subsections 70.10 and 70.15.