Fewer college students have jobs while in college than ever before. Hillary Clinton’s campaign has been harnessing thousands of these thumb-twiddling millennials and putting them to work for her campaign, using them for phone banking and door knocking. There’s only one problem- some of it is illegal.
In many states, using public resources- buildings, wifi, etc.- for organized campaign purposes is a violation of the law. The Clinton campaign has repeatedly used facilities owned and operated by the state of Washington for the benefit of the campaign.
On October 13th, the Clinton campaign held a “Huskies for Hillary” phone bank at the University of Washington’s Allen Library. In Washington, this type of activity is explicitly against the law. RCW 42.52.180 reads, in part:
“(1) No state officer or state employee may use or authorize the use of facilities of an agency, directly or indirectly, for the purpose of assisting a campaign for election of a person to an office or for the promotion of or opposition to a ballot proposition…Facilities of an agency include, but are not limited to, use of stationery, postage, machines, and equipment, use of state employees of the agency during working hours, vehicles, office space, publications of the agency, and clientele lists of persons served by the agency.”
There was another “Huskies for Hillary” event on October 10, although it is unclear whether this was officially sponsored by the campaign like the one on October 13 was.
By directly authorizing the use of university facilities to the Clinton campaign, the University of Washington is in violation of Washington state law. But the Clinton campaign isn’t a state agency, so they get off free, right?
Well, no. According to 42.17A.555, “no elective official nor any employee of his or her office…may use or authorize the use of any of the facilities of a public office or agency, directly or indirectly, for the purpose of assisting a campaign for election of any person to any office.”
The Clinton campaign officials that participated in the Huskies for Hillary phone bank did so in violation of Washington state law, and since the guest list is public and the event was officially sponsored by the Clinton campaign, this should not be a hard case for the Washington state attorney general.
According to Jessie Gamble, president of the UW College Republicans, the student group supporting Bernie Sanders was asked to cease and desist for a similar activity earlier in 2016.
“Look at Hillary. Raising young college kids to think they’re above the law,” she said.
The Clinton campaign’s event list, including organized phone banks, can be found here. State laws governing use of public facilities for campaign purposes can be found on most states legislatures’ websites.