Seattle Times to Doug Ericksen: Step Down

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State Senator Ericksen with Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen.
State Senator Ericksen with Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen.

On May 14th the Seattle Times published an editorial titled “Senator Doug Ericksen should break his Cambodia deal or step down.” 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 What on earth is Doug Ericksen doing in Cambodia?

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 SB 5033. 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 missing MIA/POW’s in Cambodia came from Washington state.

For readers born after 1970, Sen. Ericksen’s new friend Hun Sen happens to be a former Khmer Rouge 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.

About Elisabeth Britt

Posting Citizen Journalist • Member since Mar 23, 2009

Before becoming a citizen journalist, Elisabeth Britt worked in Olympia as a legislative aide. Locally, she served on the WRIA 1 Planning Unit, the Coordinated Water System Plan and as a [...]

Comments by Readers

Dick Conoboy

May 20, 2019

I wonder if Hun Sen took Dougie to some of the more “compelling” tourist attractions in  Phnom Penh like Tuol Sleng where Hun Sen’s comrades tortured and killed thousands of his countrymen with a base cruelty that is nearly unimaginable but Hun Sen and his buddies pulled it off without a hitch.  I have been to Tuol Sleng twice over the past decade.  It is a former school where children played in the large couryard before the Khmer Rouge turned the place into a prison from which there was practically no escape.  Did Hun Sen show Dougie the chicken wire stretched over the balconies of the school buildings to prevent the “guests” from jumping to their deaths because they knew what they were facing?  Did Dougie get invited to see the torture rooms that still have blood on the ceiling?   Or maybe Dougie got to see the large water pots in the couryards over which prisoners were hung and then dunked time and time again but pulled out just before they drowned?

Maybe Hun Sen took Dougie to Choeung Ek (yes, Dougie, I took the time to visit the place) also known as “The Killing Fields”.  Or maybe you just caught the reruns of the movie before going to sign your contract.  There almost 9000 bodies were found buried.  You can walk the paths, Dougie, where bones of the buried work themsleves up from the dirt as if the earth were vomiting them up.  You will see bits of cloth - blue and red and green and brown) that seem stuck in the dirt but serve as announcement to the passerby of a body below.  And Dougie, you can, at times, pick up a human bone and place it to the side for the caretakers to transfer it with all the others into a huge ossuary.  Next time you are in Phnom Phen, Dougie, I will take you to Choeung Ek so we can sit by the tree where the buddies of Hun Sen took infants by the legs and beat them against the tree until they were dead…or almost - why waste too much energy.  I have been there twice, by that tree Doug Ericksen, and it doesn’t get any easier.  Did your buddy, Hun Sen, take you there?

This is the history of your blood money, Doug Ericksen.

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Doug Ericksen

May 20, 2019

Dick.  I do not respond to such posts but your post is so over the top it requires a short response.  PM Hun Sen led the military force that over through the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot.  Many of the current leaders in Cambodia were imprisoned by Pol Pot and had family members killed.  

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Dick Conoboy

May 20, 2019

Well, Doug, I am pleased to have attracted your attention, so while I have it, let me give you the benefit of my two years of experience on the ground in Southeast Asia, one of which was as an intelligence officer in the Mekong Delta during the war in Vietnam and the other year with an intelligence unit in Bangkok, Thailand in 1975 at the very time Pol Pot came to Phnom Penh with his band of renown.  And by the way, I am also a former Army Foreign Area Officer for Southeast Asia having done a bit of study on the history of the region to obtain this specialty designation.  Your claim that “PM Hun Sen led the military force that over through (sic) the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot.” is a risibly gross distortion of history and poor vocabulary.   What happened with Mr. Hun Sen is that he fled to Vietnam after discovering in 1977 that his pal, Pol Pot, as part of overall purges within the Khmer Rouge, was likely after him and was probably going to dunk Hun Sen’s own murderous and sorry ass in one of those large pots at Tuol Sleng as a reward for his faithful service.  Hun Sen sat in Vietnam until the Vietnamese made their final invasion of Cambodia in December of 1978.  Hun Sen was not the leader of the Vietnamese military invasion forces without which Hun Sen would still be cooling his jets in Saigon or Hanoi instead of being installed by the Vietnamese as the head of a puppet regime.  For the past three decades Hun Sen has done a bit of his own, home-grown torture and murder of which I am sure you are aware, given your expertise, but seem to be ignoring.  And finally, Doug, don’t even start to give me any BS about doing anything with respect to missing US servicemen in Cambodia or anywhere in Southeast Asia.  I was an intelligence analyst in the Pentagon’s POW/MIA Office for over a decade in the 1980s and 1990s.  Take it from me and leave the search for our missing to the professionals. You have nothing of value to add.

And the next time you shake hands with this vicious man, Hun Sen, during a follow-on trip to Cambodia, remember: “Qui cum canibus concumbunt cum pulicibus surgent.”

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Doug Ericksen

May 20, 2019

Dick.  I appreciate your views and opinions.  

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Elisabeth Britt

May 20, 2019

Thank you, Dick. For your professional insight on Prime Minister Hun Sen’s past.

According to Human Rights Watch: 

  • In 1970, Hun Sen joined the ‘Khmer Rouge’ after the Cambodian military ousted Prince Norodom Sihanouk. After a couple of weeks of training, he was appointed as a platoon leader.
  • In 1971, Hun Sen became a member of the ‘Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK) Youth League.’ He rapidly moved up the ranks and turned into one of the most prominent names of the party.
  • In 1973, Hun Sen was a battalion comander during the Khmer Rouge attacks on the Mekong Delta. He received a number of promotions in the next two years. 
  • On April 16, 1975, he lost an eye in the battle for Phnom Penh. The ‘Khmer Rouge’ won and he was made Chief of Staff of an autonomous special regiment in the East Zone.
  • In a growing rift with ‘Pol Pot’, who demanded more self-destructive attacks on Vietnamese villages, Hun Sen and other eastern zone leaders fled to Vietnam in 1977. By fleeing, they escaped internal purges in the ‘Khmer Rouge’.
  • Hence, Hun Sen, also known over the years by other names of his own choosing, was a prominent member of the Khmer Rouge for about seven years. It’s not easy tracking down the details of Hun Sen’s military career with the Khmer Rouge. But no one denies that it took place. Except, perhaps, Senator Ericksen.
  • On January 10, 1979, Hun Sen became Foreign Minister in the Vietnamese-installed ‘People’s Republic of Kampuchea/State of Cambodia’ after the ‘Khmer Rouge’ regime was overthrown by Vietnamese forces. He did not lead the military against Pol Pot. He was a participant who was rewarded for his contribution to  the coup, by the Vietnamese, who did overthrow Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. 
  • Prime Minister Hun Sen Khmer Rouge History

Dick Conoboy served in S.E. Asia on behalf of the United States of America. Senator Ericksen is being paid half a million dollars a year to represent an autocratic government run by a former Khmer Rouge military leader.  Hun Sen’s human rights violations over the last four decades are a matter of public record. No need to get defensive or nasty. The facts speak for themselves. And, Senator Ericksen, as a paid representative of Prime Minister Hun Sen, will do or say what he must to cast Hun Sen in a positive light. 

In heartfelt rememberance of Captain Anderson, who was shot down and killed on Christmas Eve in S.E. Asia. He left behind a widow and five children aged one to ten. They were our next door neighbors at K.I.Sawyer AFB. They were just one of thousands of families to lose their husband/father/son/brother in the jungles of S.E. Asia. May they all rest in peace.

 

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Michael Riordan

May 20, 2019

As writer Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch succintly put it, “Washington State Senator Doug Ericksen is precisely what ‘pay-to-play,’ dictatorship-supporting scumbags look like.”

Enough said.

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Juliette Daniels

May 22, 2019

If Ericksen doesn’t resign, then it may be time to initiate recall proceedings.

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Elisabeth Britt

May 22, 2019

Danny Westneat recently posted an article stating that clowns like Doug Ericksen and Matt Shea can get away with their creepy activities, because the Republican Caucus just doesn’t care what they do. 

As Westneat so elequently quips: it appears that there is Nothing too low for politics in today’s world of hyper-partisanship. 

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