Washington state Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, has collected nearly $6,000 in daily living expenses so far during the legislative session, while he also holds a job with the Trump administration.
OLYMPIA — State Sen. Doug Ericksen, who since January has juggled his legislative duties with a job in the Trump administration, has collected nearly $6,000 from the state in daily living expenses so far during the legislative session.
Ericksen, R-Ferndale, has been splitting his time between Olympia and Washington, D.C., where the administration appointed him to a temporary job at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
An early Trump supporter, Ericksen in January became a communications manager for the EPA’s transition team, while continuing his work as a legislator.
Legal experts have said the dual role is allowed under state law, but Ericksen has drawn criticism from opponents for the move, which comes as the lawmakers try to write a budget and meet a state Supreme Court order to fully fund K-12 school education.
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Ericksen is drawing his $46,839 a year legislative salary while also earning $77.58 an hour at the EPA, according to an EPA earnings statement. If he were to work full time at the EPA, while maintaining his role as a legislator, his combined pay would exceed $200,000 annually.
State records show that Ericksen has claimed his $120 daily allowance for expenses — known as a per diem — for most of the weeks so far in the legislative session. The expenses total $5,880 since Jan. 9, the opening day of session, according to records from Senate administration.
That works out to 49 days’ worth of expenses, out of the 84 legislative days through April 2, the most recent date available in the records.
The records also shed some light on Ericksen’s activities as he juggles work in both Olympia and Washington, D.C. Ericksen has said he wouldn’t collect his per diem while he’s away from Washington state, and the records show several weeks where he hasn’t collected state expenses.
Most of those weeks came in January and February. During one stretch in February and early March, the Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee — which Ericksen chairs — went three weeks without holding a meeting.
Ericksen missed several meetings of that committee during other weeks in January, February and March. He did not claim his expenses during most of those weeks, records show.
He doesn’t appear to have attended his committee’s Jan. 31 meeting. although Ericksen did claim per diem for that day, records show.
And Ericksen returned his per diem for one day — Feb. 7 — that he had originally collected, according to Hunter Goodman, secretary of the Senate.
If the records are an indication, Ericksen appears recently to have spent more time in Olympia. He took his per diem for every day between March 20 and April 2.
Ericksen this week largely declined to discuss his approach to claiming per diem and how he was scheduling his time between the East Coast and West Coast.
“I’m working on a bunch of things right now,” Ericksen, who was in the Senate chambers for a floor debate, said Tuesday.
Pinning down details on his dual arrangement has been difficult.
In a Feb. 2 news conference discussing how he would handle both jobs, Ericksen said he didn’t know how much money he was making at the EPA.
“I can tell you, I’m losing money on the deal,” he said at the time.
News reports based on public-records requests later revealed his EPA salary, if he worked full time, would total $161,900 annually.
One earnings statement posted to EPA’s public-records website shows that Ericksen put in 80 hours of federal work through a two-week pay period that ended Feb. 4. During that pay period, the senator claimed five days of legislative expenses: Jan. 31 through Feb. 4.
Feb. 1 was the day Ericksen was originally to have held his news conference — before his cross-country flight was canceled.
Ericksen’s EPA earnings statement ending Feb. 18 listed 72 hours of work. Ericksen claimed Olympia expenses for three days during that two-week pay period — Feb. 5, Feb. 8 and Feb. 9. He did not claim daily expenses for the other days.
The EPA earnings statement shows Ericksen paying into two different federal retirement plans, as well as a life-insurance plan. He is also earning annual vacation and sick leave, according to the earnings statement.
Alex Ramel, field director for the Stand.earth campaign, and a critic of Ericksen’s dual-job situation, said he believes the federal benefits show Ericksen is less invested in his legislative work. “It seems increasingly clear that his loyalties are not to the people in Washington state,” Ramel said.
Hugh Spitzer, a law professor with the University of Washington, said that while he hasn’t seen the earnings statement, the federal benefits likely don’t mean he is in conflict with state law. Washington’s state constitution doesn’t allow state lawmakers to simultaneously holding certain federal jobs, but legal experts have said the provision does not apply to Ericksen’s temporary role.