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Originally published Wednesday, May 29, 2013 at 10:55 AM

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Wash. lobbyists pamper lawmakers with free meals

Washington ethics law prohibits public officials from accepting free meals on more than "infrequent occasions." Some state lawmakers, however, let lobbyists pick up the tab several times in a single week.

Associated Press

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OLYMPIA, Wash. —

Washington ethics law prohibits public officials from accepting free meals on more than "infrequent occasions." Some state lawmakers, however, let lobbyists pick up the tab several times in a single week.

In the first four months of this year, the state's 50 most active lobbyists pampered legislators with hundreds upon hundreds meals totaling a projected value of more than $65,000 in value. Many of the political officials accepted the meals while at the same time claiming $90 a day in taxpayer-funded per diems that are designed to cover the cost of basic expenses while working in Olympia.

The biggest beneficiary of lobbyist expense accounts was Republican Sen. Doug Ericksen. Lobbyists reported some 60 occasions in which Ericksen benefited from free meals, drinks or golf in the first four months of this year. Ericksen says he uses the meetings as a chance to learn about issues and that the meals don't make him feel an obligation to aid the lobbyist's cause.

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