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Advisory Opinions

Advisory Opinion Subject Question(s) Cross Reference RCW/WAC Reference
04-01
  • Use of state facilities, including state agency web stites to provide links to private web sites that advocate for or against ballot initiatives or political candidates
  1. May a state agency maintain a direct internet link to private non-governmental web sites? Qualified Yes / See Opinion
  2. May a state agency establish an internet link to a private web page which does not contain materials that advocate for, or against, a ballot initiative or political candidate even though the private web site's homepage may contain material that advocates for, or against, a ballot initiative or political candidate? Qualified Yes / See Opinion
96-10
00-08
02-02A
02-04
RCW 42.52.160
RCW 42.52.180 WAC 292-110-010
04-02
  • Use of state facilities to support private commercial advertising activity
  1. May an individual state officer or employee use state facilities, including state paid time, to participate in the creation or review of articles and other advertising materials that will be used to promote private commercial products and services? No / See Opinion
  2. May a state officer or employee, acting within the course of official duties and under the authority of his or her agency, use state facilities, including state paid time, to promote private commercial products and services? Qualified Yes / See Opinion
99-03
02-02A
RCW 42.52.070
RCW 42.52.160 WAC 292-110-010
03-01
  • Use of state facilities, including the Internet, to access state benefits
  1. May a state employee use state provided Internet access to monitor or update account allocations in a state provided retirement benefit plan, or to update personal information regarding other state provided benefits? Qualified Yes / See Opinion
RCW 42.52.160 WAC 292-110-010
03-02
  • Use of state resources
  • Political campaigns
  • Voters pamphlet statements
  1. May the Governor use state resources to draft a statement supporting or opposing the passage of ballot proposition that will be published in the statewide voters’ pamphlet? Qualified Yes / See Opinion
02-04 RCW 42.52.180 WAC 390-05-273
03-03
  • Use of frequent flyer miles by state officers and employees
  1. Can a state officer or employee use frequent flyer miles earned from official state travel for personal travel? Qualified Yes / See Opinion
  2. Can a state officer or employee donate airline tickets to a state agency for official state travel by using personal frequent flyer miles? Yes / See Opinion
  3. Can a state officer or employee purchase airline tickets for official state travel using personal frequent flyer miles and then seek reimbursement of that travel payment from the state? See Opinion
98-10
01-02
01-07A
RCW 42.52.020
RCW 42.52.030
RCW 42.52.070
RCW 42.52.150
RCW 42.52.160
03-04
  • Selling complimentary textbooks
  1. May state higher education faculty sell complimentary textbooks, which were received under an exemption to the gift prohibitions? See Opinion
96-05
97-03
97-07
RCW 42.52.070
RCW 42.52.140
RCW 42.52.150
RCW 42.52.160
RCW 42.52.900
RCW 42.52.901
02-02A
  • Use of state resources - frequently asked questions and examples
  1. Are there general guidelines for the use of state resources? Yes / See Opinion
  2. What types of state resources are covered under the ethics law? See Opinion
  3. What exactly is a “private benefit or gain”? See Opinion
  4. I've heard that de minimis use is allowed. What is a de minimis use anyway? See Opinion
RCW 42.52.160
RCW 42.52.180 WAC 292-110-010
02-04
  • Use of State facilities, including electronic mail, to distribute newspaper articles and editorial opinions
  1. May a state agency use state resources to collect and distribute newspaper articles or editorial opinions to agency employees via e-mail, and may the state agency also distribute the newspaper links to individuals and groups outside the state agency who have expressed an interest in receiving the material? Qualified Yes / See Opinion
  2. If the answer to 1 is yes, may the agency distribute the newspaper articles or editorial opinions if they discuss a candidate for public office, a ballot initiative, or a referendum? See Opinion
  3. If the answer to 1 is yes, may the agency distribute newspaper articles or editorial opinions that discuss commercial companies or products that are related to the agency mission? See Opinion
96-10
00-08
RCW 42.52.160
RCW 42.52.180 WAC 292-110-010
01-07A
  • Definitions
  • Gifts
  • Limitations on Gifts
  • Use of State Resources
  1. Does the Ethics in Public Service Act have jurisdiction over gifts to a state agency? No / See Opinion
  2. Does a state agency violate the Ethics in Public Service Act if it uses funds received, from a person it regulates or a person who contracts, or seeks to contract, with the state agency to off-set agency costs associated with travel expenses? No / See Opinion
  3. Would a state officer or employee violate the Ethics Act if they indirectly received admission to, and the cost of food and beverages consumed at an event paid by funds received by an agency from a person regulated by that state officer or employee or who contracted with that state officer or employee? Perhaps / See Opinion
96-05
98-01
00-05
00-06
RCW 42.52.010(10)
RCW 42.52.140
RCW 42.52.150
RCW 42.52.160(1)
00-08
  • Use of state resources
  • Political campaigns
  • officer or employee title
  1. Is there a violation of RCW 42.52.180(1) if a state officer or employee uses his or her title when supporting or opposing a candidate for office or a ballot proposition? Yes / See Opinion
RCW 42.52.180
00-09
  • Use of persons, money, or property for private gain
  1. Does the use of state resources such as employee time, equipment, and supplies for the Combined Fund Drive violate RCW 42.51.160(1)? Qualified No / See Opinion
RCW 42.52.160
00-10
  • Use of persons, money, or property for private gain
  1. Is there a violation of RCW 42.52.160(1) when an employee of one agency uses the computer of that agency to send e-mail as part of his volunteer activities for the Hunter Education Programs, which is conducted by another agency? See Opinion
RCW 42.52.160
99-01
  • Definition of Legislative Body
  • Political Activities
  1. Is the Washington State School Directors' Association board of directors an “elected legislative body” as used in RCW 42.52.180(2)(a) and therefore eligible to vote on a motion to support or oppose a ballot proposition in an open public meeting? No / See Opinion
  2. Is the intent of the state ethics law to limit application of RCW 42.52.180(2)(a) only to the state legislature as the only elected legislative body in state government? Yes / See Opinion
  3. Given the structure, authority, and past practice of the WSSDA Board, is it the normal and regular conduct of the board to take positions on ballot measures as authorized by RCW 42.52.180(2)(c)? Qualified Yes / See Opinion
RCW 42.52.180
99-02
  • Use of state resources
  • Nonprofit entities
  1. Whether state employees may operate a nonprofit corporation within a state agency for the purpose of overseeing fundraising and ensuring compliance with the state's ethics laws? Qualified No / See Opinion
RCW 42.52.010
RCW 42.52.050
RCW 42.52.070
RCW 42.52.140
RCW 42.52.150
RCW 42.52.160
99-07
  • Conflict of Interest
  • Board Membership
  1. May Public Works board members rely on the Advisory Opinion 98-08 and recuse themselves from discussion and voting on matters on which there is no existing conflict of interest in order to preserve potential future business opportunities? Yes / See Opinion
  2. Does the fact that general public members of the Public Works Board or their employers must, by law, engage in competitive bidding or in competitive selection for public works projects make members less susceptible to conflicts of interest under the state’s ethics law? No / See Opinion
  3. Are potential conflicts of interest mitigated by the fact that 80 percent of projects approved by the Public Works Board are subject to legislative review and approval? No / See Opinion
96-09A RCW 42.52.020
RCW 42.52.030
RCW 42.52.040
RCW 42.52.903
98-09
  • Use of Public Resources for Political Campaigns
  • Washington State Patrol
  1. Would the Washington State Patrol be in violation of RCW 42.52.180, if a Governor or Lieutenant Governor are attending a political event for a ballot issue or another political candidate and they are travelling in the Executive Protection Vehicle designated for the transportation of the Governor or Lieutenant Governor? No / See Opinion
  2. Would it be a violation of RCW 42.52.180, if a Governor or Lieutenant Governor were running for reelection and they traveled to specific campaign activities in the Executive Protection Vehicle, where the sole purpose of the travel is for campaign activities and no other state business is to be conducted? No / See Opinion
  3. Would it be a violation of RCW 42.52.180, if a Governor or Lieutenant Governor are attending state events or meetings in the normal course of their duties and mixed in with those events is a political event as mentioned in questions one or two? No / See Opinion
RCW 42.52.180
96-03
  • State Employees
  • De minimis use of state resources
  1. RCW 42.52.160 prohibits use of state resources for the private benefit or gain of a state officer, state employee, or another. Is the de minimis use of staff time and resources to support recreational activities as part of an agency wellness program a violation? No / See Opinion
RCW 42.52.160 WAC 292-110-010
96-10
  • Elected Officials
  • Facilities of an agency
  • Normal and regular conduct
  • Employee mailing list
  1. Is it a violation of RCW 42.52.180(1) for a statewide elected official, who is running for re-election, to use the agency's list of employee home addresses to send agency employees a letter, paid for with campaign funds, explaining the elected official's policies in response to a letter to agency employees from another candidate for the same office? No / See Opinion
RCW 42.52.180