The Roman Catholic Church has fallen afoul of Washington State’s campaign finance laws. Last week, Yakima Bishop Joseph Tyson notified the 41 parishes in the diocese that there would be a special collection that was intended to go to Preserve Marriage Washington. This is called bundling, and it is illegal under Washington Law.
Lori Anderson, a spokeswoman fro the Public Disclosure Commission, stated flat out that no organization ca be an intermediary for a contribution. The church can hand out envelopes, but they must be collected by someone from PMW or sent in to them by the individual
The restrictions stem from an initiative that passed the voters in 1992.
Monsignor Robert Sile stated that the diocese was coordinating its efforts with the state Catholic Conference and that “As far as I know, the procedures we sent to the parishes meet the requirement of state law. . .We’re not collecting and counting money. We’re just collecting envelopes and forwarding them.”
Anderson, though, noted that this is bundling, and is not allowed under state law. She also noted that the PDC would be in touch with the church’s officials and that “We just want to make sure they understand what they can and can’t do. Under state law, no one can be an intermediary for a contribution. It doesn’t matter if it’s a loose pile of money or if each is in a little envelope.”
Siler noted that they may amend their procedures to meet with federal law.
It may not matter all that much. Preserve Marriage Washington has, so far, raised a paltry sum of money- just $471,000. Washington United for Marriage, conversely, has raised $6.1 million and has at least $5 million set aside for television advertising starting after Labor Day.