Posted by: sweeneyblog | May 30, 2013

Local Senator is King of the Lobbyist Lunchroom

Sen. Doug Ericksen has received some state-wide recognition recently for receiving free meals from lobbyists. The Associated Press along with a consortium of public radio stations did an analysis of lobbyist filings and found that Sen. Doug Ericksen has received more free meals than any other state legislator this session.

Sen. Ericksen, #1 for Handouts

Sen. Ericksen, #1 for Lobbyist Handouts

From the Associated Press article, Ericksen responded to this report, “A $49 dinner is not going to sway me from doing what’s right for my constituents,” Ericksen said. Yet he met with Greg Hanon, a lobbyist for the Western States Petroleum Association, fourteen times in the last four months, with the Petroleum Association picking up the tab every time.

Totalling up all the free meals he has received in the last four months, Ericksen’s haul comes to $2,029.30. His closest competitor, Sen. Litzow (R-Mercer Island), didn’t even come close with a mere $1,477.00. Ericksen received free meals, drinks and golf, clocking in an average of three meals a meal week from lobbyists intent on gaining his ear. This is deeply disappointing on its face, however it gets worse.

Ericksen is double dipping. He is receiving a per diem (money for food and expenses) from the taxpayers while the legislature is in session. We the taxpayers are giving him $90 a day for breakfast, lunch and dinner while lobbyists are buying steak dinners. When confronted about this, Ericksen said that he sees no problem with this arrangement.

You can call Ericksen’s office at (360) 786-7682 and let him know how you feel about his lobbyist dining and double dipping. 

P.S. I had a great time deciding on the title of this article. Other choices included, “Ericksen: Eating us out of House and Senate,” “Ericksen: Lobbyist favorite lunchable,” “Ericksen leads pack in Double Dipping Dinners.” Feel free to add your ideas in the comments below.



  1. I love the let-them-eat-cakiness of his casually dismissing $49-dollar meals which, for most of his constituents, would be classified as “a special occasion.” Pretty cheeky given that he and the small city mayors justify shilling for the coal terminal claiming they represent populations that are desperate for the jobs because they are virtually destitute (the economies of the small cities aren’t that bad relative to the state and the nation, but that’s their song so they need to own it).

  2. Even if his flippant response is acceptable (it’s not) and even if this is ethical (it’s not) and even if claiming his per diem despite not using it for the intended purpose is legal (it’s probably not) and even if his claim that dining and golfing with lobbyists is not influencing his decisions (the lobbyists hope that’s not true), the man is fundamentally dishonest. Now the question is: Will the voters respond accordingly?

  3. I don’t see dishonesty here…I’ve always known that the threat to citizens’ rights, etc., is our ‘neighbors’ who sit in local councils, and State legislatures—a huge portion of the rules, ordinances, and laws that come from the local town council and the County & State would never make it through a Federal court if challenged—but they feel secure because it is a rare individual who can get a case to federal court, it cost $250,000 or more to get to a Fed. court, if they’ll even hear your case…While my conservative friends paint Hitler mustaches on a picture of the president, their ‘neighbors’ are chipping away at their rights, property, quality of life, and more…

  4. This is typical of those so called “family values” and “honesty” Conservatives. Actually, if the truth was known, and it is by many, that Conservatives are very greedy and will take whatever they can from whoever they can to increase their power and wealth. They usually take from the poor and give to the rich. They claim to be Christians, and I cannot and will not attempt to read what is in a person’s heart. Many of them who profess to be Christians just can’t seem to get their actions do show it. They want to see children go hungry, homeless, not get educated so that they can keep all those corporate loopholes that those very lobbyist that are buying the good Senator’s meals, that we are subsidizing. We had one legislator that we bought lunch for, a Conservative by the way, that asked for the receipt. Geeee, I wonder what he wanted that for??? Sure doesn’t sound like Christian values to me.

  5. […] The end result is that we are looking at a second special session. The legislature needs to finalize a budget before July, so unless a magic compromise materializes, we are looking at a June session as well. But, for every dark cloud there is a silver lining: more free meals for Sen. Doug Ericksen! […]

  6. […] thing does remain very clear, I almost made it through an entire article without mentioning Sen. Doug “Love My Free Lunch” Ericksen. Well, I […]

  7. […] every time Rep. Overstreet introduces a bill about paying your county taxes with gold coins or Sen. Ericksen justifies how many free steak dinners he is getting from lobbyists; is this really the best use of your time? Our representatives work for us and if I had an employee […]

  8. […] are better off because our mattresses still have toxic chemicals in them, but that is my two cents. I just wish I had the money to buy Sen. Ericksen steak dinners on a regular basis so that he would represent our priorities, as opposed to those of the American […]

  9. […] asked, he spoke about Sen. Doug Ericksen’s love of free meals with lobbyists. Ranker pointed out an important fact, Ericksen drove back to Ferndale almost every […]

  10. […] so sorry to interrupt your dinner, that looks like a delicious steak there and I’m sure the good lobbyist from BP can excuse us […]

  11. […] my first choice is State Sen. Doug Ericksen. I realize that a congressional race will cut into his dining with lobbyists, but I think he has a […]

  12. […] attempting to peel off Republican votes from their majority caucus. My suggestion would be to take Doug Ericksen out for a free meal. I hear he is into that sort of […]

  13. […] Ericksen did make some headlines last year for his ethical troubles and his rule-breaking activities as committee chair, he did have a significant impact on the […]

  14. […] in point, Sen. Doug Ericksen dined with lobbyists during the session last year almost every other day he was in Olympia. He also “double […]

  15. […] committee assignments (Transportation, Rules and Health Care). Rules is an interesting choice for someone dogged by ethical charges since the rules committee establishes the framework for how the legislature functions (an […]

  16. […] Deadlines are fast approaching for our state legislature. On Feb. 7th, all non-fiscal bills that didn’t make it out of committee are deader than Shaq’s acting career. I will be pulling double duty the next couple of days profiling our remaining state legislators and their efforts before they hit the deadline. The short session makes it more difficult for legislation to get through, but on the other hand, it provides less time for lobbyists to wine and dine legislators. […]

  17. […] tower on Sehome Hill was repaired. This bill has drawn a slew of bipartisan co-sponsors, with the hungry Senator Doug Ericksen leading the […]

  18. […] The Environmental Priorities Coalition is a lobbying effort by a number of environmental non-profits, including Futurewise, Washington Conservation Voters and Conservation Northwest. With the situation in the Senate constantly evolving, it is no wonder that statewide groups will try to bring some pressure on Ericksen. I assume they already tried buying him dinner. […]

  19. […] funds, having his meals paid for by lobbyists but taking the full per diem in reimbursements. Records show he ate dinner with lobbyists almost every other night while in Olympia in 2013. The ethics commission took a look at the issue […]

  20. […] the per diem is all well and good, Sen. Doug Ericksen received plenty of criticism for double-dipping from that fund last year. However, Overstreet is actually forbidden from taking the state’s legislative […]

  21. […] for Whatcom? It means that the entire balance of the State Senate is held by one vote – and Sen. Doug Ericksen may have a seriously competitive race as the whole state turns its eyes to the 42nd […]

  22. […] competitive and closely watched races in the state. Ericksen, who recently was recognized for his record-breaking amount of meals with lobbyists, is a must-hold seat for the state Republicans who control the state senate by two […]

  23. […] course, the series of donations that did not surprise me at all? $4,050 from the Food and Beverage industry. Ericksen has hired Ben O’Brine, one of the field organizers from last year’s county […]

  24. […] Ericksen this year, held his kickoff recently. He promised to work for all of his constituents, not lobbyists who buy him dinner, and to work across the aisle to pass a transportation budget that will bring jobs to Whatcom […]

  25. […] a poll testing a series of negative messages against Seth Fleetwood, who is running against legendary lobbyist dinner date Sen. Doug Ericksen. This is different from a push poll – which is aimed at […]

  26. […] a classic technique is trying to turn a negative into a positive. After two years of bad press for receiving the most free meals with corporate lobbyists, and the surrounding ethical concerns about getting reimbursed for meals he didn’t pay for, […]

  27. […] back now. Talk is already on to 2014 and how to end Doug Ericksen’s lobbyist meal train. On a completely unrelated note, Matt Krogh is here, sporting a handsome beard and a big […]

  28. […] last question for this round was about legislators receiving meals from lobbyists (a question clearly written with Sen. Ericksen in mind). Buys defending the practice, saying that putting limits on free meals will, “limit access […]

  29. […] Fleetwood got hammered by Sen. Doug Ericksen. Ericksen made headlines for the last two years for accepting more free meals from lobbyists than any other state legislator and blocking all climate change and oil safety […]

  30. […] Here, try this mental experiment. I live in North Bellingham, yet I am not represented in the State Legislature. No one from my district, the 42nd, shares my values. Do I stomp my foot and demand that they create a special seat just for people in North Bellingham? No. I work hard to try and change people’s mind – to show them that they are not served well by Free Lunch Doug. […]

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