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Ethics complaints against Ericksen for temporary EPA job dismissed

Watch the arguments for and against the effort to recall Sen. Ericksen

Whatcom County Superior Court Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis ruled Thursday, March 2 there were insufficient grounds for a citizens' recall effort against Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale. A group of voters from the 42nd District began the recall effort
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Whatcom County Superior Court Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis ruled Thursday, March 2 there were insufficient grounds for a citizens' recall effort against Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale. A group of voters from the 42nd District began the recall effort

The Washington state Legislative Ethics Board has dismissed complaints filed against Sen. Doug Ericksen for taking a temporary, paid job with President Donald Trump’s transition team while continuing to work as a state legislator.

The decision was released in late July with the board saying, essentially, that it was up to the voters to decide just how concerned they were about the Ferndale Republican’s dual roles.

In January, Ericksen accepted a temporary appointment as communications director for Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency transition team. The 120-day post has ended.

Ericksen faced criticism for working both jobs at the same time, although he said he checked with ethics and legal experts to make sure his dual roles were allowed.

A group of voters in his 42nd District – among them Michael Shepard, a Democrat – launched a recall effort, insisting Ericksen wasn’t adequately doing his job as a state senator while also working in Washington, D.C. A Whatcom County Superior Court judge dismissed the petition in March, ruling there were insufficient grounds for the recall effort to continue.

Three people also filed complaints with the Legislative Ethics Board, alleging Ericksen violated the Ethics in Public Service Act. The board dismissed four of the points that were raised, saying it didn’t have jurisdiction over them.

The board did take up whether Ericksen couldn’t effectively perform his job as a state legislator while working for the EPA as well as whether the jobs constituted a conflict of interest, and dismissed both.

Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, holds a press conference Thursday to discuss his dual role as a member of the Washington State Senate and as a member of President Trump's transition team at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“The ultimate question here is a political one – assuming his EPA work continues, whether the time commitments required by Sen. Ericksen’s two jobs are of sufficient concern to the constituents of his district that they no longer support him in his efforts to remain a state senator,” the board wrote in its decision.

“However, that concern is not an ethical one,” it concluded.

Shepard, who also filed a complaint with the ethics board, said he was “disappointed” in the board “but not surprised.”

And while the review board has failed to act, voters are “awaiting their opportunity to share their frustration at the ballot box,” Shepard said.

Kie Relyea: 360-715-2234, @kierelyea

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