By Stefanie Donahue
After assuming the title of communications lead for the federal transition team at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last month, state senator Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale) held a press briefing to field questions about his ability to juggle that role along with his senatorial
The briefing was initially slated for 8:30 a.m. on February 1, but was later rescheduled to 9:15 a.m. on February 2 due to a flight cancellation, further building on criticism from state legislators and constituents of his ability to balance careers on both coasts.
The news made headlines on January 23, after The Seattle Times reported that Ericksen and former Vancouver-based state senator Don Benton would join 10 officials at the EPA to aid in the presidential administration’s transition effort. Dubbed the “beachhead team,” the role is subject to last a maximum 120 days, Ericksen said, depending on the U.S. senate confirmation process.
“It’s outrageous for senator Doug Ericksen to claim that he can responsibly serve the people of Washington state and the people of the 42nd legislative district while also working in Washington D.C. for Donald Trump,” read a statement released by Tina Podlodowski, chair of Washington state’s Democratic party and former candidate for secretary of state. “He has missed a myriad of votes, is inaccessible to the people who live in his district and is not attending to critical issues here in Washington state, especially solving the education funding crisis.”
Ericksen dismissed the claims as “the Democrats’ desire to play partisan games,” further remarking that the Washington State Senate Majority Coalition Caucus, of which he’s a member, voted on an education funding bill just the day prior to the press briefing.
“This is the only caucus and only legislative chamber in Olympia that has passed comprehensive McCleary fix,” he said in reference to an education funding order issued by the Washington State Supreme Court. “So we’re getting the work done.”
Reporters pressed Ericksen about the ethics of taking on both roles – Erickson responded by explaining he consulted with legal counsel in the senate and in D.C. to ensure he was meeting “both the intent of the law and the letter of the law.”
In his absence, Ericksen said state senator and Washington State Senate Majority Coalition Caucus vice chair Tim Sheldon (D-Potlatch) takes his place. And despite having to commute by airplane into work, Ericksen said he is fulfilling role as a state legislator just fine.
“Number one, they know they can rely on me,” he said.