I’ve heard from a lot of folks asking why I’m not sending out emails or newsletters, I wanted to follow up with you all to explain why that is.
Washington has very specific and rigorous ethics guidelines for members, and that’s a good thing. What that means for me, though, is because of the time of my appointment, I am not allowed to send out the same kind of emails that other members are.
Under RCW 42.52.185, legislators may not send mail (including email) to constituents from December 1 of the year preceding the election to the date that the election is certified. There are exceptions to this, most importantly for this issue are:
- A legislator may mail 2 newsletters between December 1 and the first date of filing. (A newsletter can be mailed and emailed so long as the content as the same and the two are done contemporaneously.)
- A legislator may send regular or periodic updates on legislative matters during session and up until the first day of filing, if a constituent has specifically indicated they would like to receive the updates OR has been added to a distribution list and provided regular opportunities to unsubscribe.
The place where the ethics rules prevent me from sending the same amount of emails as other members of the legislature fall in the second point. The vast majority of members have nearly a year to send e-updates before mailing restrictions begin. By December 1, the people added to their lists list have been provided multiple opportunities to unsubscribe.
Appointed members, like myself, are subject to mailing restrictions as soon as they are appointed. Previously, Legislative Ethics Board Counsel gave advice that since “opportunities” is plural, the person had to have been provided more than one opportunity to unsubscribe before they received e-updates when mailing restrictions were in place. The Board also had a discussion about transferring a former member’s list to the newly appointed member that was taking their place. The Board was very clear that this was not allowed when mailing restrictions were in place. The result is that appointed members could have to wait nearly 2 years to have a list for e-updates that includes more than those who have just proactively subscribed.
The Ethic’s guidelines in Washington State are critical, ensuring that no legislator can use public resources for personal gain is fundamental for a functional democracy. Unfortunately, though, it also limits my ability to reach out to you all about issues before the legislature or communicating resources in a crisis.
I’m working on ways that I can still get information to you all, and I appreciate your patience with my office while we figure out how to work within the ethics guidelines to communicate with you all.
If you would like to proactively sign up to receive e-newsletters, you can do so here.