No legislators, other state officials or their employees or agents may solicit or accept contributions for any state or local office candidate, to defray public office related expenses, or to retire a campaign debt during what is known as the "legislative session freeze period." The freeze period is in effect during the regular legislative session, the 30 days before the regular session and during any special session of the legislature. RCW 42.17A.560.
This prohibition also means that no pledges or payments of earlier pledges may be requested or received during the session freeze period. Online and credit card contributions, as well as contributions mailed to the candidate, are not considered received within the freeze period provided the donor made the contribution before the freeze period began. Non-incumbent, newly elected state officers are not subject to the legislative session freeze period until they are sworn in to office.
Please be aware that, during a legislative freeze period, a state elected official may NOT solicit or accept contributions that:
- go to an incumbent state official or known candidate for state or local office (including one's own campaign for state or local office);
- are used to pay a non-reimbursed public office-related expense;
- are used to retire a campaign debt;
- go to a caucus political committee if the committee spends the contributions for the benefit of incumbent state officials or known candidates; or
- go to a bona fide political party or another political committee if the party or committee spends the contributions for the benefit of incumbent state officials or known candidates.
"Known candidates" means individuals who are, or who become, candidates for state or local office during a legislative freeze period.
Caucus political committees and other persons who are employed by or act on behalf of state officials are also prohibited from soliciting or accepting contributions for the above purposes during a legislative session freeze period.
During a freeze period, if state elected officials -- or caucus committee staff or anyone else acting on behalf of state elected officials -- solicit or accept contributions for a political party, caucus political committee, or other political committee, those funds must be deposited into a separate account and spent in a manner that does not benefit incumbents or known candidates. See the enclosed rule for more details.
Other key features of the rule:
- A successful candidate for state office who does not already hold state elective office is not required to comply with the legislative session freeze period provision until sworn into office.
- A current state elected official who will leave office in January will cease to be subject to the session freeze prohibition when his or her term expires, unless he or she assumes another state elected office or otherwise falls under RCW 42.17A.560.
- The freeze prohibition does not apply to a state elected official who is raising money for his or her own campaign for federal office pursuant to federal election law.
- A state elected official who is also a candidate for state or local office may use personal funds or surplus funds to contribute to his or her own campaign during a freeze period.
- A state elected official is permitted to transfer surplus campaign funds to his or her own Surplus Funds Account during a freeze period.
- A caucus political committee may accept contributions from members of that caucus who use personal funds or surplus campaign funds to make the contributions. Further, these contributions from members could be used for any purpose; they do not need to be deposited into the caucus committee's freeze account.