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About Elisabeth Britt

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 state team member for the Federal Lummi Nation Water Rights Negotiations. In other roles, Britt served as chair of the Public Safety Committee for WDOT Whitewater Amphitheater Blue Ribbon Traffic Safety Commission and sat on the WA State Department of Ecology Citizen’s Advisory Committee.

By Elisabeth Britt

Seattle Times to Doug Ericksen: Step Down

By On
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 [...]