UPDATE: I spoke with Lori Anderson with the Public Disclosure Commission and asked her point blank if sending out invitations of a campaign kickoff during the session against the rules. “Yes. That is definitely prohibited.”
While the state Legislature is in session, sitting legislators are strictly prohibited from raising or soliciting campaign donations. The Public Disclosure Commission is very clear about this, “During a legislative freeze period, a state elected official may NOT solicit or accept contributions.”
Furthermore, “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 freeze period.” In plain speak, neither a candidate, nor anyone on behalf of a candidate, can ask for money while the state Legislature is in session.
Rep. Vincent Buys appears to have violated this law recently. I heard reports that invitations to a campaign fundraiser had arrived at Whatcom households over the weekend and when I checked facebook, Buys had created a campaign event and invited attendees. See below for screenshots of facebook event.
This seems to be a reasonably textbook violation of the laws. An invitation to a fundraiser is a pretty clear solicitation for funds, and the state Legislature is still in session. I have called Buys soliciting comment, and called the chair of the local Whatcom Democrats to see if they will file a PDC complaint. I will update this story as it develops.