On May 14th the Seattle Times published an editorial titled “.” I couldn’t agree more. Ericksen is promoting a brutal autocratic regime known for abductions, arbitrary murders, political arrests and civil-liberty violations, including forced child labor. He is hardly a man who supports liberty and freedom for all.
Ericksen has displayed an incredible lack of judgment regarding international conflicts of interest, revolving doors, and lobbying while representing the 42nd Legislative District. He wasn’t elected to represent foreign despots, he was elected to represent the people who live and work in his district — hard-working American citizens who support traditional democratic principles.
The nature of public office immediately raises questions about the appropriateness of a state Senator accepting a huge payment of $500,000 to provide services a good travel agent could provide to a group of foreign officials. Ericksen claims he won’t be doing any work in Washington state on behalf of Cambodia. But he’s only a state Senator, not a U.S. Senator. What possible influence does he have outside of our state boundaries? His brief, calamitous D.C. sojourn as a member of the EPA “beachhead” team must have earned him far more enemies than friends, please see
The principle of transparent government requires elected officials not only to act in the public interest, but also to demonstrate that they are doing so through their actions and behavior. How can Ericksen fulfill that principle when he hung out in Cambodia vouching for the validity of elections that Congress and his own Republican president condemned?
The Washington State Legislature had an opportunity in 2018 and 2019 to adopt legislation that would have required a one-year waiting period before a retired lawmaker could accept a position as a lobbyist. Please see . But that bill died in committee. Never mind that two-thirds of all 50 states have already adopted some form of legislation that would prevent this kind of shady behavior.
But that didn’t stop Ericksen. He decided, after conferring with an attorney, that it was perfectly legitimate to start a lobbying firm to represent Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s autocratic government while he continued to serve as a state legislator.
I don’t care what Ericksen’s blindfolded supporters say. This is not about recovering Vietnam MIA’s in Cambodia. Granted, there is a U.S. POW/MIA investigator posted in Phnom Penh, whose duties include pursuing leads associated with the 48 missing pilots and other servicemen who are still not accounted for in Cambodia. But none of the current in Cambodia came from Washington state.
For readers born after 1970, Sen. Ericksen’s new friend Hun Sen happens to be a former official, a group that committed numerous wartime atrocities in Cambodia. The same Khmer Rouge murdered American pilots and service members who had been shot down or lost in Cambodia. Some of those men served with my father in the USAF. They were good men with young families. None of them deserved the death they received.
There’s not much left to discuss about Sen. Ericksen’s lack of morality. Is this really the person who should be representing Whatcom County in Olympia? Ultimately the answer lies with the voters.