Type Complaint Opinion 
Date 9/22/2009 
Number 09-03 
Topic Use of Public Resources - Advocacy and Special Privileges 
Respondent Senator Pam Roach 
Question/Complaint
Complaint alleged that Respondent improperly used her office and or public resources to advocate for grandparents involved in a custody dispute with a state agency.  Statutes involved were RCW 42.52.070 and .160.
Summary
Assisting constituents is an example of a legislator's discretionary authority and rendering appropriate assistance falls within his/her scope of employment and official duties.  Use of legislative position and public resources to advocate for others is permitted when there is a tangible legislative nexus.  That nexus is established when assisting constituents (1) with a government official or government office or (2) with legislative issues.  "Improper means" can negate the permissible use of office or public resources if the purpose of advocacy is to achieve, for example, a personal benefit for self or others such as fostering a business relationship with the State.  The Board noted that posting pictures of minor children involved in issues related to DSHS could have unintended consequences and urged legislators to be cautious in their advocacy in that regard.  Under these facts, complaint dismissed for lack of reasonable cause.
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