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Donation Collection

Donation Collection

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Published by G-A-Y

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Published by: G-A-Y on Sep 25, 2012
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09/25/2012

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Barry A. Bostrom
 Noel H. Johnson
Zachary S. Kester Kaylan L. Phillips
Joseph A.
Vanderhulst
 Of CounselJ. Christian AdamsJason Kohout
 
Cleta Mitchell
September 4, 2012Joseph Backholm, ChairmanPreserve Marriage WashingtonPO Box 13350Mill Creek, WA 98082Dear Mr. Backholm,Rachel La Corte of the Associated Press wrote an article entitled
“Catholic churches can’t
collect donations to overturn gay marri
age law, Washington state rules”
carried throughoutWashington and across the nation.
1
The article is factually and legally incorrect. On Friday,August 31, 2012, I spoke with the Washington Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) LeadPolitical Finance Specialist, Mr. Tony Perkins, regarding this matter. He indicated that there wasno problem with churches distributing envelops and literature regarding Referendum 74, thetraditional marriage referendum. He also sent me an email, in which he confirmed ourunderstanding
that “
an individual acting on his or her own behalf, and
not 
on behalf of any entity,can legally collect and transmit contributions
.”
2
 This letter therefore relies upon the facts as described in the articles regarding this matter,communicated to the undersigned by your deputy, Mr. Christopher Plante, and as understood bymy conversation with Mr. Perkins.
 Not only have Washington state authorities not “ruled” on
any such thing, but under Washington law, churches may facilitate the collection of donations toPreserve Marriage Washington, a registered ballot committee supporting traditional marriage.The section of the Revised Code of Washington upon which the reporter and the PDCspokeswoman ostensibly rely prohibits anyone except an individual from being an
1
According to Google News, as of August 30, 2012, more than 180 publications reprinted thisAssociated Press article, which is available at http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2012/08/catholic_churches_cant_collect.html and http://www.therepublic.com/ view/story/060c5515a525483190a7eceaa3142a8a/WA--Gay-Marriage-Churches (last visitedSeptember 4, 2012).
2
E-mail from Tony Perkins to Zachary Kester on August 31, 2012 (available at @@).
 
 Preserve Marriage WashingtonPage 2 of 2
“intermediary” for a contribution and also prohibits an individual from making a contrib
ution
“on behalf of another” without providing to the recipient certain specified information about the
originating contributor.
3
But this law must be read in context and must not violate either federallaw or the Washington or United States Constitutions.
4
 The complete picture therefore includes review of other applicable law. Committees areexpressly permitted to utilize the services of volunteers, which could include parishioners orother church attendees.
5
Churches may contribute directly to ballot committees,
6
may make
deminimis
expenditures without incurring any reporting obligation,
7
and may make additionaldirect and in-kind contributions to the committee without triggering registration or reportingobligations other than an occasional obligation to provide the committee with the value of its in-kind contribution so the committee may report the same.
8
The law also specifically contemplates
“contributions” made “
either directly or indirectly
” from any person to committees and further 
instructs how t
hose contributions are to be treated under Washington’s campaign finance law.
9
 There is no question that, at a minimum, a church may allow a Preserve MarriageWashington volunteer or volunteers (who may be deacons, elders, lay-leaders, ushers, thespeaker making the weekly announcements, or any other individual(s) in the church) to distributematerial related to Referendum 74, including envelopes for donations; collect the envelopes withthe donations and required contributor information; and work with Preserve MarriageWashington to send the same to Preserve Marriage Washington at PO Box 13350, Mill Creek,WA 98082.
10
If these procedures are followed, a church is not transmitting contributions inviolation of Washington law. It is my understanding that this is how the churches are proposingto facilitate the collection of contributions.Without question, a church may accommodate Preserve Marriage Washington, and allowPreserve Marriage Washington to collect contributions from parishioners, members andattendees. The church is not delivering or transmitting the contributions to you.
3
RCW § 42.17A.470.
4
WAC § 390-05-040.
5
RCW § 42.17A.005 and WAC § 390-17-405.
6
 
See
RCW 42.17A.405(12) (listing the corporate and labor union contribution prohibitions tocandidates and political committees supporting or opposing candidates).
7
 
Canyon Ferry Road Baptist Church of East Helena, Inc. v. Unsworth
, 556 F.3d 1021 (9th Cir.2009).
8
See RCW § 42.17A.005(37).
9
RCW § 42.17A.460.
10
Each individual collecting the funds and transmitting them to Preserve Marriage Washingtonshould provide to Preserve Marriage Washington his or her full name, street address, occupation,name of employer, if any, or place of business if self-employed, the address of the employer, andthe same information for each contributor.
RCW §§ 42.17A.470(2); 42.17A.235 and WAC 390-16-034. Any contribution in excess of $90 per contributor should be by written instrument suchas a check or money order.
See
RCW § 42.17A.475 and WAC § 390-05-400.

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