Bishop Tyson from the Diocese of Yakima: "We're not collecting the money"

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Money and politics very often go hand in hand, sometimes a little too closely. That's why the state is taking a closer look at the Yakima Diocese and how it's supporting Preserve Marriage Washington.

"The campaign exists to collect that money and they should be collecting it directly from the contributors," said Lori Anderson, Communications officer at Washington Public Disclosure Commission.

The state disclosure commission says campaign contributions cannot be collected on behalf of another person. That goes for churches too.

Bishop Joseph Tyson sent a letter to pastors in the area to announce a collection using donation envelopes on behalf of Preserve Marriage Washington. The state took notice.

"What they can't do as an organization is collect that money that is intended for the campaign and then deliver it," said Anderson.

Bishop Tyson says it's just one big misunderstanding. In fact, he told KIMA that he has yet to see one of the donation envelopes.

In the letter, the Bishop specifically asked parish staff not to open the donation envelopes, but instead place them into the addressed security envelope and mail them directly to Preserve Marriage Washington. It says the collection is supposed to take place September 8th and 9th.

"It's not our collection," said Bishop Tyson. "We're not collecting the money. It's not our envelope. We're not banking the money. We're not rolling the money. We're not collecting the money and we're not taking the money. Preserve Marriage Washington is doing that. We're going to follow the state law and I'm going to make sure that we're doing that."

The state said the church can hand out envelopes, but Preserve Marriage Washington must be the one collect them itself.

So far the state and Diocese have not been in direct contact, but the commission says it plans to get in touch with the Catholic organization later this week to ensure it's aware of campaign laws.