By Sandy Robson
November 9, 2019
Washington state Senator Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale) has been keeping busy with his company, PacRim Bridges LLC, which he and his business partner, Jay Rodne, a former Washington state Representative from Snoqualmie, Washington, founded in November of 2017.
A September 6, 2019 Facebook post displayed on the Facebook page of Estudio Manini Abogados, a legal firm located in San Isidro, Lima, announced, according to the translation provided by Facebook, a strategic agreement to join efforts with PacRim Bridges LLC to encourage the investment of American capital in Peru. San Isidro is a district of the Lima province in Peru, and is considered to be the financial center of Lima.
This news about Senator Ericksen and PacRim Bridges’ activities in Peru brings to mind an April 5, 2019 article published in the online version of The Seattle Times which reported that Ericksen registered as a foreign agent for the Kingdom of Cambodia in an April 3, 2019 filing with the U.S. Department of Justice, along with Jay Rodne.
According to the April 5 Seattle Times article, Ericksen and Rodne registered as foreign agents under their company, PacRim Bridges LLC, to lobby/consult on behalf of the Cambodian government. The Seattle Times article was based on POLITICO’s report that broke the news earlier that day, on April 5, regarding PacRim Bridges LLC having landed a $500,000 per year lobbying contract from the Cambodian government.
Subsequent to the September 6, 2019 post on Estudio Manini Abogados’ Facebook page, there was an October 3, 2019 post displayed on the firm’s Facebook page that, according to the translation provided by Facebook, announced the following:
“American companies ensure investment in infrastructure for more than $ 200 million.
“In the week from 2 TO 6 September last, American Companies Mills Electric and western refinery services visited our country confirming their interest in investing in infrastructure for more than $ 200 million.
“The visit was carried out in the framework of the strategic agreement signed between pac rim bridges and study study, whose representatives, in turn, formed the society pac manini bridges s.a.c, with the firm purpose of continuing to promote infrastructure projects and the income of more companies From American Capitals.
“In October the visit of a second group of companies will be made.”
There were eight photos accompanying the October 3 Facebook post and those photos show that Senator Ericksen, Jay Rodne, and according to the caption under one of the photos, representatives from two companies located in Whatcom County, Washington, Western Refinery Services (WRS) and Mills Electric, were there for the meeting/s. From looking at the photo, it appears (but has not been officially confirmed) that Bill VanZanten, the CEO at WRS, and Josh Huntley, VP and director of operations at Mills Electric were also pictured in that photo, and had been involved in the meeting/s.
There were also other individuals shown in the photos who were from Peru including the governor and delegation from Moquegua, Peru, who were at the meetings about infrastructure projects, according to the Facebook post.
The Searchlight Review had contacted Senator Ericksen, via email, on October 10, 2019 regarding a photo that had been posted on September 1, 2019 by Jay Rodne on his profile on We Speak, a new social media platform created for Christian conservatives and founded by a fervent Donald Trump supporter, Ray Gilbride, and his wife, Danielle Gilbride, who reside in Bellingham, Washington.
The photo featured Senator Ericksen and Rodne, posing with firefighters in front of the Magdalena No. 36 fire truck. Magdalena is in Lima, and it appeared likely that the photo had been taken there.
Searchlight Review explained in its October 10 inquiry email to the senator that, “It is not clear whether your visit to Lima, Peru, related to business for the consulting company, of which, you and Mr. Rodne are partners, PacRim Bridges LLC., or if your trip was related to your job as a Washington state Senator.”
The Searchlight Review received a reply email the following day, October 11 from Senator Ericksen’s legislative assistant, Sandy Ruff, which read in part:
“No state resources were used and Senator Ericksen’s office was not involved in the item that you reference.
“Since no state resources were used and our office was not involved, we are not able to provide you with any additional information.”
The email was signed simply, “The Office of Senator Doug Ericksen.”
Jay Rodne could not be reached for comment.
Compañía de Bomberos Magdalena No. 36 is a fire company in Lima, and is comprised of ‘bomberos’ or volunteer firefighters. The connection with Compañía de Bomberos Magdalena 36 is through the Port of Seattle’s Fire Department that has a charitable relationship with the Magdalena No. 36 fire station in which the Port of Seattle Fire Department repurposes fire equipment by donating it to them.
Rodne has a history with fire equipment donations to Peru from when he was a state representative and was involved with the sister city relationship between Chaclacayo, Peru, and the city of Snoqualmie several years ago.
Back in June of 2015, a Northwest Railway Museum blog post had announced that the City of Snoqualmie had “…recently formed a sister city relationship with Chaclacayo, Peru. As part of the relationship, Snoqualmie is sending surplus firefighting equipment to that community located about 17 miles from Lima, Peru.” That month of June in 2015, a visit from a Peruvian Naval vessel had been arranged and the blog post noted that then-Washington 5th District Representative Marine Reserve Colonel Jay Rodne played a part in arranging the visit.
Today, November 9, 2019, The Searchlight Review discovered a September 3, 2019 Facebook post displayed on the “IV Comandancia Departamental Lima Centro” Facebook page. According to the translation provided by Facebook, the post stated in part:
“On Sunday, September 01, the volunteer fire company of Magdalena N° 36, held a ceremony ceremony under the twentieth anniversary of international cooperation between the praiseworthy ranks of the state of Washington State and Magdalena N° 36. That activity counted With the presence of Brigadier General Brigadier General Cbp Larry Lynch Solis, Senator Sr. Doug Ericksen and deputy jay rodne, both Washington State Representatives.”
The September 3 Facebook post indicates that the photo The Searchlight Review had inquired about with Senator Ericksen’s office on October 10, 2019 showed that he and Rodne were there in Lima, Peru. Yet, the senator was not forthcoming about that photograph when, according to the September 3 Facebook post, he was at that 20th anniversary celebration at the Magdalena fire company, held on September 1, 2019.
It’s not clear why Senator Ericksen was not willing to provide any information to The Searchlight Review in response to its email inquiry other than for his office to state his legislative office was not involved.
After learning about the recent meetings that Ericksen’s and Rodne’s PacRim Bridges LLC and representatives from Western Refinery Services and Mills Electric had with Estudio Manini Abogados and government officials of Peru, it brings up a concern.
The Republican senator representing the 42nd Legislative District is conducting private business in foreign countries while he is being referred to, and perceived as, a government official from the United States. The blurring of those lines is potentially problematic, and may warrant examination by Washington state and federal government officials.