Washington Legislative Ethics Panel To Consider Free Meals Rule

Aug 18, 2014

Washington state law allows lawmakers to accept gifts of food and drink on infrequent occasions. But the word “infrequent” has never been defined.

Washington state's Legislative Ethics Board aims to answer how many free meals lawmakers can accept from lobbyists on Tuesday in Olympia.
Credit Colin Fogarty / Northwest News Network

How many free meals is too many? That’s the question an ethics panel aims to answer at a public hearing Tuesday in Olympia. The Legislative Ethics Board will consider a draft proposal to limit how many free meals lawmakers can accept from lobbyists.

Last year, our investigation with the Associated Press found some lawmakers who regularly accepted lobbyist-paid meals. That triggered the Ethics Board’s interest on the issue.

The Board is considering a range of limits on free meals from as few as two per year to as many as one per week. Once the Board decides on that, it will tackle the issue of whether lawmakers should have to report these meals. Lobbyists already do, but the paper filings with the state’s Public Disclosure Commission are hard to track.

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