Posted by: sweeneyblog | July 31, 2014

Whatcom Republicans Laugh Away Ericksen’s Ethical Woes

In politics, 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, the Whatcom Republicans are trying to play off Ericksen’s desires for free meals as a joke.

Whatcom Republicans Email

Whatcom Republicans Email

In an email blast sent out this week, the Whatcom Republicans invited their members to become part of the “I want to buy Senator Ericksen lunch” club. From the email:

Become a part of our growing community of people who want to Buy Lunch for our Senator right here in Whatcom County and Bellingham . . . Its free and easy just enter your name and e-mail to become a charter member of the club.

A couple of problems with this approach. First, as taxpayers, we already buy Ericksen lunch every day since we pay his salary. When he is in session, we pay his per diem on top of that. Normally, when you get a free meal from a lobbyist, you deduct that from your per diem, but Ericksen continues to claim his full per diem, so really we are buying him one lunch and then the special interests are buying him another lunch.

But it raises another question, one of access. Should anyone be bragging about the fact that our legislator has to be bribed with food just so he will listen to you? I would hope that our legislators would be eager to meet with their constituents outside of meal times.

I understand the intent of the Whatcom Republicans, but Ericksen’s ethical issues are no laughing matter.  You can send that message by turning in your ballot by next Tuesday.



  1. CORRECTION: “After two years of bad” LIBERAL “press for receiving the most free meals with corporate lobbyists”. If that is all the Democrats have, then, after the election Seth can cancel his lease and move back to the 40th.

    Riley, I understand your fixation with food but maybe when it comes to food and politics you should move on.

    • It’s not just about food. There are two ethical issues:

      First, there’s the aspect of “double dipping” – accepting free food, yet also still accepting the full allowance from the State Legislature (per diem = $90/day for food and rent in 2013).

      Second, it’s the fact that all this free food is coming from lobbyists, suggesting an undue level of influence from special interests rather than demonstrating a commitment to being a true representative of the constituents living in the 42nd district. From January through April of 2013, the average take of perks from lobbyists by WA state legislators was $445. Erickson’s take led all others at $2029.

      State ethics law allows for acceptance of meals on “infrequent occasions.” $2029 sounds to me the opposite of “infrequent.” We likely need to create a more clearly defined cap.

      • Kind of like when WA State employees retiring with full pensions then being re-hired a few months later in a different job (within the state system) and drawing both a salary and their full pensions-CLASSIC DOUBLE DIPPING. Pass the A1 sauce please.

    • I agree with Mr.Farber on this one.
      After all the Ericksen stupidity available for criticism over the course of his tenure,
      his 2 grand worth of lobbyist meals is the strongest complaint we can muster?
      Ericksen’s one and only campaign promise is to thwart all attempts to raise the energy costs of his constituency so whining to undecided voters about his corrupt eating habits won’t even register.
      I guess I just don’t understand campaigning.

  2. Intriguing comment Mr. Farber. You walked right into it — and probably didn’t notice.

    Take a serious ethical lapse and try to turn it into a joke. We are amused.

    • Obama did that? “You can keep your healthcare plan and keep your doctor” 🙂

  3. The Republican tactic is just another attempt at spin. They hope the local Democrats are fooled. The voters are not fooled. If Doug wins again, it will be because his supporters outnumber his detractors. The Democrats need to take this race seriously. That means ringing doorbells, raising money, and coming up with a coherent vision for the future most of all. Just copping out to “Dougie’s bad, so vote for a Democrat” is not a viable strategy. I suspect that once again, the Democrats will “snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.”

    • Actually, i agree with 90% of that.

  4. There can be no lemonade from this can of lemons, no matter how much humor the R’s spin onto this item. The scary thing you touched on is….why do voters and special interest groups feel the only time they can talk to their senator is by buying his time with a meal. And what’s more ridiculous is once it was pointed out,he still kept on taking those free lunches. Cheeeez.

  5. Riley,

    Ericksen is bought and paid for by corporations and the real estate lobby.

    I attended a January 2003 (?) real estate dinner where Ericksen was the guest speaker. In the speech he stated openly that the builders association and real estate interests received 90% of their requests from the legislature!

    I was shocked that anyone would admit in public that they were a bought and paid for tool of any lobby interest. I wish that I had recorded that speech so you would have a direct quote on record.

    Sincerely, Tom Gilmore

  6. Riley,

    Being a cheat is not joke.

    It might be useful to publish a list of the corporations and groups that purchased meals for Ericksen. This would show who he really listens to and who he represents.

    A counter campaign idea — People Ericksen will never eat with; -lunch at the county jail. -lunch at the food bank. -lunch at the mission. -school lunch. -brown bag lunch bags with Ericksen’s name on them at the county fair.

    But then I would not want to insult the less well off by having them eat with Ericksen.


    • That’s a really interesting idea. Would the list of groups and lobbyists that bought him the meals be public information?

    • Corporations are constituents too.

    • “Being a cheat is not joke”-please don’t talk about the president that way.

  7. Is this an impeachable offense? or maybe We the People can sue Doug for – hmm – must be a legal element to this.
    But, really, the fact that a faction of his Republican followers have come up with this Lunch idea just make them look uninformed about the rules of elected office. Look what is happening to the guy in Virginia. Of course, he and his wife went way TOO FAR, but the bottom line is the same. Doug has already been admonished for his behavior. These people probably didn’t even ask him if he wanted to have lunch with them! LOL

    • So you and I can’t go to lunch with Doug/Seth and pick up the tab?

  8. The R’s favorite refrain used to be “both sides do it,” but as the right becomes more entrenched in extreme positions on subjects such as climate, social programs, education, and taxes, the mainstream press is finally acknowledging both sides actually DON’T do things like take the world economy to the fiscal cliff willing to push us over to prove they can do it. Doug’s supporters are making light of his lack of ethics because they can get away with it. It is the least of his problems and while they’re making fun of us for caring about his total lack of moral fabric, they’re deflecting attention from the substance of the damage the man has done to the state while chairing the subcommittee on energy, the environment, and telecommunications.

    Walter, I believe you’re wrong about Seth’s campaign. Riley would know better than I, but I imagine they’re running an old-fashioned boots-on-the-ground campaign, taking nothing for granted. If we lose, it will be because the left votes less in off-cycle elections than the right, and because too many people don’t understand that character matters; contributing our fair share to support the social contract matters; the environment matters….

    • Terry – I wasn’t specifically targeting Seth’s tactics. I was making a general comment. I still don’t see the local Dems hammering the Tea Party and other extremist Repubs hard enough. As far as I can see, the Demos still haven’t learned the lesson of 2010.

      That said, Seth’s latest campaign flyer says, “On the Whatcom County Council, I supported a balanced budget and never raised property taxes for 8 years in a row.” This is disingenuous because he doesn’t say anything about: 1) reducing government expenditures where there is duplication and waste, 2) articulating a vision of raising property taxes on rich folks, 3) making sure companies like BP pay more taxes (and even the taxes that are due!), 4) doing something for poor people (like free bus service), 5) raising gas taxes, 6) finding some way for huge trucks and semis to pay their fair share of infrastructure costs. I could go on and on. What Seth’s current campaign seems to be is a retread of moderate Republican ideas.

      To wit: “I am a good guy. I won’t raise taxes. Your current lifestyle won’t take a hit if you elect me. I will get you a job. I will protect public safety.”

      This is NOT vision. This is just retread, wishy-washy rhetoric. No one believes it. That leaves people to just vote party line. If that is the tactic, it is a fail. Doug wins.

      • you nailed it Walter…it’s nearly vacuous, certainly meaningless, and not a ‘winner’…


  9. I was waiting to see what your excuse might be when Seth loses the election. Are you blaming the Republicans for low Democrat turnout (code word “voter suppression”).


    • How do you get “income” out of a burger and fries?

      Ask Lois Lerner, she knows all about the Right-Wing Infidels.

      • Actually John makes a fair argument, if your reimbursed for your meals using Per Diem, than by law if you receive gifts in excess of $50 as part of your job that you are required to disclose them as income, in the same way, that I believe Doug could have refused per diem, picked up his own tab and recorded the meals as a travel expense.

  11. Wayne,

    Just as the server is required to report the-two- bit tip that the Senator tosses on the table, the Senator is required by law to report his tips as well — all earned income is required to be report on the appropriate tax forms– that includes the cash value of a greasy burger and the limp fries.

    • John,

      It is NOT a tip, it is NOT earned income, someone bought him lunch. If I buy you lunch, I only have to report it if I am taking a tax deduction (if I were a investment adviser, accountant, attorney, etc). If you go into the State Elections website you will find complaints against Doug that were ALL subsequently thrown out as so much BS.

  12. If the idea is to paint Seth as a “carpetbagger” because he lived 40 some years of his life in the 42nd and got redistricted, and somehow that moving line is absolutely meaningful, I suggest the term “scalawag” for Ericksen. It is completely meaningless and juvenile, of course, just as “carpetbagger” is meaningless and juvenile for Seth, but I think we need a little 19th Century rambuctiousness (another great 19th Century word) inserted into this foofahrah (another great 19th Century word). The 19th Century was a great time just to make crap up and hope it stuck.

    • So we should NOT criticize either of them?

  13. […] neither candidate delved into Ericksen’s ongoing ethical issues, they did quarrel over the latest Republican boogeyman, Tom Steyer. “I don’t have any […]

  14. […] the last election so solidly in his favor, I’m not surprised to see Ericksen returning to his ethically-challenged […]

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