On November 13, 2006, the Governor received an appeal from Stefan Dobratz relating to the Public Disclosure Commission's denial of a petition to amend Chapter 390-17 WAC. The Governor's Office denied Mr. Dobratz' Petition on December 19, 2006.
DATE: December 19, 2006
Richard E. Mitchell
General Counsel to the Governor
November 13, 2006
The Honorable Chris Gregoire
Office of the Governor
PO Box 40002
Olympia, WA 98504-0002
Dear Governor Gregoire:
I have a grievance with Washington State government. Perhaps if I had included this statement in my communications to the Secretary of State and the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC), they would have responded more completely to this issue.
I am writing to you to appeal the decision of the Public Disclosure Commission regarding my petition for rulemaking. I do not agree with the PDC's response that the issue I presented cannot be resolved through the commission's authority. Their letter, dated October 6, 2006, that I received October 21st, is enclosed.
I simply want an opinion on the question of whether the use of campaign contributions from citizens of other states to fund the deposit for the hand recount in the Governor's election violated the constitutional rights of association of Washington State citizens. The recount is an issue for Washington's citizens to decide, not the citizens of the other 49 states and the District of Columbia. If these contributions did violate Washington citizens' rights, then I would like the process of correcting state laws and regulations initiated to prevent future violations.
Our government is based on the participation of citizens' representatives. If the citizens do not have control of the process for electing their representatives, they essentially have no representatives. Preserving the citizens' rights to freely select their representatives is of paramount importance. Voting is our most restricted form of speech. The same criteria used for restricting voting should be used to restrict campaign contributions, which are analogous to votes.
I have enclosed copies of my communications with both the PDC and Secretary of State for your information.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
1716 33rd Ave. NE
Olympia, WA 98506
October 6, 2006
Mr. Stefan Dobratz
1716 33rd Avenue NE
Olympia, WA 98506
SUBJECT: Response to Your August 9, 2006 Rulemaking Petition Requesting Amendments to Chapter 390-17 WAC
Dear Mr. Dobratz:
The purpose of this letter is to confirm in writing that on September 28, 2006 the Public Disclosure Commission unanimously adopted a motion to deny your August 9, 2006 Petition for Rulemaking with respect to your Petition that it amend Chapter 390-17 WAC to prohibit nonrepresented voters from contributing to local and state elections in Washington State.
In denying the Rulemaking Petition the Commission concurred with PDC staff's review of your Petition. The reasons for the denial were:
First, current statutes contemplate that entities outside the state of Washington may be contributors to candidates and political committees in Washington.
Initiative 276, which was adopted in 1972 by popular vote, anticipated out-of-state contributors by requiring campaign finance reporting by political committees not domiciled in Washington State. See RCW 42.17.093 [originally codified as RCW 42.17.090]. Likewise, Initiative 134, also adopted by popular vote in 1992, includes language prohibiting campaign contributions to state office candidates from "outside" sources that do not have a connection with Washington State. See (RCW 42.17.640(12).
Second, with respect to the argument you raised in your Petition that "the US Supreme Court's blanket primary decision (California Democratic Party et al. v. Jones, Secretary of State of California, et al.) stating that a political party has protected rights of association with their candidates under the First Amendment, therefore a citizen and voter, must have at least equal rights of association with candidates and ballot measures" is not an issue that can be resolved by the Commission through the rulemaking process.
In summary, the Commission found that current state statutes contemplate that out-of-state entities could be contributors to Washington State candidates and political committees. Implementation of your objective in your Petition is beyond the Commission's current rulemaking authority because it would require statutory changes which fall under the province of the State Legislature. Therefore, the Commission will not be proceeding with rulemaking to amend Chapter 390-17 WAC as requested in your Petition for Rulemaking.
The Commission has requested that I forward this letter to you on their behalf. Pursuant to RCW 34.05.330(3), you may appeal this decision to the Governor within 30 days of the denial of your Petition. You may also seek judicial review under the procedures of RCW 34.05.510 - .598.
Cc: Members, Public Disclosure Commission
Nancy Krier, Senior Assistant Attorney General
Linda Dalton, Senior Assistant Attorney General
July 4, 2006
The Honorable Sam Reed
Washington Secretary of State
PO Box 40220
Olympia, WA 98504-0220
Dear Secretary Reed:
I am writing you regarding a concern of what appears to be a violation of the First Amendment rights of Washington voters.
I am not an expert on constitutional law; however, I was troubled by the US Supreme Court's blanket primary decision (California Democratic Party et al. v. Jones, Secretary of State of California, et al.). It seems to me that, if a political party has protected rights of association with their candidates under the First Amendment, then I, as a citizen and voter, must have at least equal rights of association with candidates and ballot measures in Washington State elections.
It appears to me that the participation of nonresidents in Washington State elections may violate the rights of Washington citizens/voters. This also appears to apply within the state to county, district, and city elections. Campaign contributions are an example of the activities I am referring to. It is difficult for me to clearly define the scope of the activities of concern due to other protections of the First Amendment.
I consider the most recent Governor's election to provide a specific example for consideration. The citizens of Washington State were not willing to fund a hand recount for the election; however, funds were obtained from other states' citizens and the recount was performed, ultimately changing the outcome of the election. This example appears to violate Washington voters' rights of association with their gubernatorial candidates.
Elections are the way Washington voters select their representatives for local, state, and federal governments; also certain state laws are decided upon through the election process. It does not appear that non-Washington citizens (or their resources) have a right to directly participate in Washington State election campaigns. The right of association guaranteed to Washington's voters seems to extend beyond just voting and would appear to include funding and other activities. Only the Presidential election is an exception that would permit the direct participation of non-Washington citizens in Washington State's election process.
I realize that my take on the right of association, even if only partially correct, may upset 'business as usual' for the major political parties. However, "we have always done it this way" is not an excuse for violating the constitution, if that is in fact the case. Our founding fathers set-up a system where each state selected their own representatives and senators, and Washington has adopted a similar system for our state/local governments. In the age of the Internet and global communication, maintaining such a system has become a greater challenge. These are "State" elections and the citizens' right of association must be preserved. Clearly, the more populous a state/county/city is, the greater the opportunity for entities (such as major political parties) to use the state/county/city's resources in other states/counties/cities.
It is not clear to me that this is an issue of state law; however, state law appears to explicitly address this very subject in RCW 42.17.093, Out-of-state political committees -- Reports.
Since you are responsible for voting issues, I am requesting that you address my concern. If you are unable to address my concern, please provide me with information on the specific process I need to pursue. Also, depending on your response, include the appropriate appeal process.
Please notify me of your expected timeframe for a response. Thank you for your time and consideration.
1716 33rd AVE NE
Olympia, WA 98506