OLYMPIA — Washington Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, is stranded in El Salvador after testing positive for COVID-19 there, and has sought help from fellow Republican lawmakers to send him monoclonal antibody treatments.
Ericksen told KIRO radio he was “fighting a bad bout” with the virus while in the Central American country.
It’s unclear if the senator was vaccinated against the virus, and he did not respond Friday to a text message or phone call seeking comment.
A fierce critic of Gov. Jay Inslee’s emergency pandemic orders — including the recent vaccine mandates — Ericksen this year sponsored legislation to protect the rights of people who won’t get vaccinated.
In an email sent Thursday afternoon to House and Senate Republican lawmakers, Ericksen described his plight.
“I took a trip to El Salvador and tested positive for COVID shortly after I arrived,” wrote Ericksen in the email, a copy of which was shared with The Seattle Times by a senate staffer. “I cannot get back home, and it’s to the point that I feel it would be beneficial for me to receive an iv of monoclonal antibodies (Regeneron). I have a doctor here who can administer the iv, but the product is not available here.”
“Do any of you have any ideas on how I could get the monoclonal antibodies sent to me here,” Ericksen continued. “Ideally, I would like to get it on a flight tonight so it would be here by tomorrow.”
It was unclear Friday if GOP lawmakers were assisting Ericksen, and whether any efforts might succeed.
“We had somebody looking into it,” said Sen. Phil Fortunato, R-Auburn.
Earlier this year, Ericksen, Fortunato and some other Republican senators co-founded the Freedom Caucus to advance conservative issues.
“There’s obviously a lot of hurdles … it’s obviously a more complex matter than just sending it through FedEx,” said Fortunato, who added that he hasn’t spoken with Ericksen recently.
In an email, Senate Secretary Brad Hendrickson, the top nonpartisan administrator in that chamber, wrote that he is not aware of any official request for assistance beyond the email that is circulating. Hendrickson declined further comment.
Ericksen this year sponsored a bill to protect the rights of state residents who won’t get a COVID-19 vaccine. But SB 5144 never got a hearing in the Democratic-controlled Legislature.
Last month, the Freedom Caucus called on Inslee to resign after nearly 1,800 state workers were let go for refusing to comply with the governor’s vaccine mandate.
“Never have we witnessed a failure of leadership in this state as we have seen under Gov. Jay Inslee,” Ericksen said in a statement at the time. “For nearly 600 days, he has used COVID emergency powers to establish autocratic rule, refusing to call the Legislature into special session, and shutting the people out.”
Since then, on the social media site We Speak, an account attributed to Ericksen blasted Inslee again: “Jay Inslee has made Washington the LEAST FREE state in the USA — Thanks Jay.”
It was unclear Friday why Ericksen visited El Salvador — but it’s not his first visit to that country or others in recent years.
Ericksen in 2019 registered with the U.S. Department of Justice as a foreign agent to conduct lobbying work on behalf of the Cambodian government, scoring a $500,000 contract for his new firm.
That contract came after Ericksen traveled to Cambodia to observe — and ultimately praise — the country’s widely condemned 2018 elections. Those elections took place as a government crackdown shuttered independent media organizations and dissolved a key opposition party.
That election-observing trip was considered questionable enough for two fellow Republican lawmakers invited by Ericksen to cut the visit short and fly home early.
In the past, Cambodian media outlets have inflated Ericksen’s position, calling him a U.S. Senator, rather than his actual title as a state senator representing the 42nd legislative district of Whatcom County.
This past legislative session, Ericksen missed senate votes because he was in El Salvador observing elections there, according to The Olympian.
The senator also visited El Salvador with his business partner — former GOP state Rep. Jay Rodne — in October and December of 2020, according to social media posts from that time.
One of those tweets came from an account described as the official account of the Salvadoran Institute for Municipal Development (ISDEM), and showed photos of Ericksen and Rodne meeting with various officials.
That organization was created through a legislative decree, according to its website, and focuses on supporting development within municipal administration through financial, technical, and planning assistance.
“The president of ISDEM, Lic. Ernesto Muyshondt met with Senator Douglas Ericksen and Congressman Jay Rodne from the State of Washington … in order to be a channel of support and friendship for the municipalities,” according to a translation of that October 2020 tweet.
Staff reporters Jim Brunner and Daisy Zavala contributed to this story.