The regular session freeze will begin at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, December 14, 2019.  Contributions to an individual holding state elected office must be made on or before Friday, December 13, 2019.[1]  The freeze period runs through the day of the regular 2020 legislative session’s final adjournment and is in effect during any special session(s).  RCW 42.17A.560.

The freeze period for a non-incumbent, newly elected state office holder begins at 12:01 a.m. the day s/he is sworn into office.

The Public Disclosure Commission has implemented RCW 42.17A.560, and a Supreme Court decision interpreting the law, by adopting WAC 390-17-400, Time Limit to Solicit or Accept Contributions. 

Please be aware that, during a legislative freeze period, a state elected official may NOT solicit or accept contributions that:

  • go to an incumbent state official or known candidate for state or local office (including one's own campaign for state or local office in 2019 or beyond);
  • are used to pay a non-reimbursed public office-related expense;
  • are used to retire a campaign debt;
  • go to a caucus political committee if the committee spends the contributions for the benefit of incumbent state officials or known candidates; or
  • go to a bona fide political party or another political committee if the party or committee spends the contributions for the benefit of incumbent state officials or known candidates.

"Known candidates" means individuals who are, or who become, candidates for state or local office during a legislative freeze period.

Caucus political committees and other persons who are employed by or act on behalf of state officials are also prohibited from soliciting or accepting contributions for the above purposes during a legislative session freeze period.

During a freeze period, if state elected officials -- or caucus committee staff or anyone else acting on behalf of state elected officials -- solicit or accept contributions for a political party, caucus political committee, or other political committee, those funds must be deposited into a separate account and spent in a manner that does not benefit incumbents or known candidates. Please see the rule for more details.

Other key elements of the rule:

  • A successful candidate for state office who does not already hold state elective office is not required to comply with the legislative session freeze period provision until sworn into office.
  • A current state elected official who will leave office in January will cease to be subject to the session freeze prohibition when his or her term expires, unless he or she assumes another state elected office or otherwise falls under RCW 42.17A.560.
  • The freeze prohibition does not apply to a state elected official who is raising money for his or her own campaign for federal office pursuant to federal election law.
  • A state elected official who is also a candidate for state or local office may use personal funds or surplus funds to contribute to his or her own campaign during a freeze period.
  • A state elected official is permitted to transfer surplus campaign funds to his or her own Surplus Funds Account during a freeze period.
  • A caucus political committee may accept contributions from members of that caucus who use personal funds or surplus campaign funds to make the contributions.  Further, these contributions from members could be used for any purpose; they do not need to be deposited into the caucus committee's freeze account.
  • A state elected official who is a candidate for another state or local office may use personal funds or surplus funds to contribute to his or her own campaign during a freeze period, provided that written permission from donors to transfer the surplus funds to the new campaign was received prior to the session freeze beginning.

Please e-mail pdc@pdc.wa.gov with any questions you have regarding the session freeze.  You also may reach the PDC by telephone at 360-753-1111 or toll-free at 1-877-601-2828.

 


[1] Mailed contributions received on December 14 or later may be accepted, so long as the contribution was postmarked on or before December 13. You should keep postmarked envelopes and other contribution records to document that the contribution was made outside the freeze period. For online or credit card contributions made by December 13, the contribution is considered received outside the freeze period regardless of when the merchant makes the transfer.