COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST AGENCIES WHO SUED TO OVERTURN I-722
A citizen compliant has been filed with the Attorney General and the Public
Disclosure Commission against nine cities and four counties that filed suit
The complaint claims that the lawsuits amount to the use of public funds to
oppose a ballot proposition which is prohibited by Washington statutes.
Paul Telford, a Thurston county government watchdog, said that until the
November 7 election is certified by the Governor, I-722 is still a ballot
proposition and the lawsuits are merely an attempt to use taxpayers money
to defeat the initiative.
On November 9 the cities of Burien, Carnation, Newcastle, Pasco, and
Seattle obtained a court order from Thurston County Superior Court Judge
Pomeroy enjoining enforcement of the initiative.
The last property tax measure to make the ballot was in 1992 which was
defeated with the help of associations of county and city officials.
Telford won a lawsuit against the county associations in 1997 which stopped
them from future participation in initiative campaigns.
"What cities and county officials are doing here is another attempt to
sneak around the obvious intent of a law that says that citizen s taxes are
not be used to influence the outcome of elections. It s got to stop."
December 4, 2000
Public Disclosure Commission Attorney General of Washington
PO Box 40908 PO box 40100
Olympia, WA 98504-0908 Olympia WA 98504-0100
SUBJECT: FORMAL COMPLAINT/45 DAY NOTICE
NATURE OF ALLEGATION
Violation of RCW 42.17.130 relating to Initiative 722
DATE OF VIOLATIONS
November 7, 2000 to date
PERSONS OR AGENCIES RESPONSIBLE
City of Burien
City of Carnation
City of Newcastle
City of Pasco
City of Seattle
City of Olympia
City of Richland
City of Bainbridge Island
City of Des Moines
The above named agencies violated RCW 42.17.130 by using public facilities
to oppose Initiative 722.
The foregoing and attached are true to the best of my knowledge:
Paul K. Telford Date
ATTACHMENT TO COMPLAINT
CAUSE OF COMPLAINT
All use of public facilities and staff and all expenditures of public funds
to facilitate the legal action against I-722 by the public agencies named,
constitute a violation of RCW 42.17.130. Such efforts constitute obvious
and undeniable opposition to a ballot proposition. I-722 is a ballot
proposition until it becomes a statute which had not occurred as of the
date of this complaint.
FACTUAL BASIS FOR VIOLATIONS
1) RCW 42.17.130 states, "No elective official nor any employee of his
office nor any person appointed to or employed by any public office or
agency may use or authorize the use of any public office or agency,
directly or indirectly, ...for the promotion or opposition to any ballot
RCW 42.17.020(2) defines "ballot proposition" as, "any measure as defined
by RCW 29.01.110."
RCW 29.01.110 says, " Measure includes any proposition or question
submitted to the voters...". An Initiative is a ballot measure or proposition.
2) Art II (d) of the Washington Constitution states, "Any measure initiated
by the people or referred to the people as herein provided shall take
effect and become law if it approved by a majority of the votes cast thereon."
3) RCW 29.62.130 provides for canvassing of votes for state-wide measures.
It provides for the governor to issue a proclamation giving the results of
votes cast for and against a "measure" and declare the result.
This was not done as of December 4, 2000. It is not expected to occur until
December 7, 2000.
4) On November 9, 2000 the Cities of Burien, Carnation, Newcastle, Pasco,
and Seattle filed lawsuits to permanently enjoin the State of Washington
from enforcing I-722 and to declare it unconstitutional. The action was
later joined by the cities of Olympia, Richland, Bainbridge Island, Des
Moines and by the Counties of King, Pierce, Kitsap, and Whitman.
5) On November 22, 2000 certified election results for I-722 were due from
counties and were posted by the Secretary of State.
6) On November 30, 2000 arguments were heard and a decision rendered in
Thurston County Superior Court to enjoin enforcement of I-722.
Several Supreme Court decisions have established the principle that an
initiative measure is the exercise of legislative power by the people and
is another method of enacting a statute. [Amalgamated Transit v. State of
Washington, and the citations therein.] Constitutional provisions and
interpretations apply to ballot measures in the same sense as enactment s
by the Legislature. As an analogy, Art II, sect 22 provides that no
Legislative bill becomes law until a final vote is recorded.
The obvious intent of RCW 42.17.130 (enacted by the voters in the Public
Disclosure Act) is to prevent the use of public agency resources to
influence the outcome of ballot measures. Whether or not initiatives and
referenda become law are to be a contest between competing private
factions- not influenced one way or the other by public resources.
The Public Disclosure Act is to be liberally construed, "...so as to assure
public confidence of fairness of elections and governmental processes, and
so as to assure that the public interest will be fully protected."