Even though it’s an election year, legislators are free to rile up their constituents at public expense without breaking the law.
The e-mail the Graham Republican sent Feb. 13 sounds like a pretty typical Olympia call to action. Titled, “TAX INCREASE ALERT – Help Stop Senate Bill 6130,” it opposed the Democrats’ ultimately successful attempt to suspend voter-approved Initiative 960 that made it harder to raise taxes. It asked constituents to oppose the bill at a public hearing.
A recipient apparently saw the e-mail as a veiled campaign advertisement, and filed a complaint.
The ethics board ruled Tuesday in McCune’s favor, citing the law limiting pre-election mail that allows sending newsletters throughout the election-year legislative session (and for a month afterward) to constituents who have requested them. The recipient of McCune’s e-mail had signed up for the e-mails, the board said.
Further, the board said:
The tone and tenor of the update was permissable. This requirement is directed at debate which is respectful and does not impugn the character of a legislative colleague or other elected official.
UPDATE: McCune says a member of a state employee union filed the complaint with the ethics board because she didn’t like the position he took in the e-mail. “Anybody can file anything you want,” he said. “You can call and say, ‘I don’t like Jim McCune.'”