- Associated Press - Thursday, April 6, 2017

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - A Washington state senator who has been juggling his legislative duties while working in the Trump administration has collected nearly $6,000 from the state in daily expense allowances so far this session, a newspaper reported Thursday.

Sen. Doug Ericksen, a Republican from Ferndale, has been splitting time between Olympia and his temporary job with the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C.

Ericksen is drawing a $46,839 legislative salary while earning $77.58 an hour at the EPA, The Seattle Times reported (https://bit.ly/2oFq08T ), citing an EPA earnings statement.

State records show Ericksen has claimed his $120-a-day expense allowance totaling $5,880 between Jan. 9 and April 2. That works out to expenses for 49 of 84 legislative days.

Legal experts have said the dual role is allowed under state law, and Ericksen has said lawyers told him his temporary role as communications director for the EPA’s transition team is legal. He has said that position would last up to 120 days.

The state senator has drawn criticism from opponents. Some voters in his 42nd District started a recall effort, but a judge dismissed their petition in early March.

Ericksen largely declined to discuss with The Times his approach to claiming per diem and how he was scheduling his time between both coasts.

The senator previously said he can do both jobs and that he wouldn’t collect his per diem when he’s not in Washington state.

State records show several weeks when Ericksen didn’t collect state expenses, mostly 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.

It appears that Ericksen recently spent more time in Olympia, judging by his expense claims. He filed for his per diem allowance every day between March 20 and April 2.

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Information from: The Seattle Times, https://www.seattletimes.com


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