Expenditures made by a person or political committee to place a measure on a ballot, to influence the wording of a ballot title or to require that a government agency place a measure on the ballot are campaign expenditures reportable under RCW 42.17A.
Expenditures made by a government agency to defend its official actions related to whether or not a measure should be placed on a ballot or to the wording of a ballot title are not reportable as campaign expenditures.
The proponents of a proposed ballot measure are clearly acting to support or advance that measure when they take an action to require that it be placed before the voters. It is also in their interest to have the measure stated in terms most favorable to them. The proponents, therefore, have discretion in the action they take regarding the issue. They are also not closely bound by law in the range of actions they may take. The government agency, on the other hand, is closely regulated by law in its actions regarding measures that are presented to it. It first of all is expected to remain neutral in its approach to ballot proposals. The way in which a measure is processed is specified and the government is given little leeway in its actions. If a government agency takes an official action (e.g., to write a ballot title or to refuse to place a measure on a ballot) it must be assumed that the agency is acting in good faith. If the government action is challenged, the agency then has little or no discretion in whether to defend its action. Thus, while the agency's act may serve the ultimate end of opposing a ballot proposal, since the agency lacks discretion in the situation, it has not made a campaign expenditure as envisioned by RCWA 42.17A.