Few state legislators are taking Pierce County up on an offer of a free ticket to the U.S. Open, and the few who do plan to take in some or all of the tournament at Chambers Bay say they are paying their own way or contributing the ticket price to charity.
The county invited 45 legislators to Chambers Bay for a briefing on the tournament's impact on the local economy and to watch the competition. The three-hour briefing was added in order to satisfy the Legislative Ethics Board, which ruled that lawmakers could accept the free ticket if some official business was involved.
The board also ruled that legislators would need to offset the $60 difference between the $110 U.S. Open ticket value and the $50 gift cap. Pierce County and the board agreed that legislators could satisfy that by making a contribution to the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound.
In the past week, the county's planned briefings for legislators drew the ire of open government advocates, who object to the county's decision to exclude news organizations and the public from the briefings.
The Washington Coalition for Open Government and the Washington Capitol Correspondents Association both said Pierce County should open the meetings, especially since the briefings are described as touting the positive results of the legislature's investments in infrastructure in the county. Editorials in many of the state's leading newspapers also blasted the decision to exclude the press.
KING 5 reached out to all 45 legislators invited to the U.S. Open. As of Monday morning, responses from all but three had been gathered:
Each of these legislators made clear that he or she bought tickets on their own, or is contributing the equivalent value of the ticket to the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound:
Rep. Eileen Cody (D)
Rep. Richard DeBolt (R)
Rep. Jay Fey (D) -- His 27th District is in Tacoma.
Rep. Melanie Stambaugh (R) -- Her 25th District is in Pierce County.
Sen. Steve Conway -- His 29th District is in Pierce County.
Sen. Bruce Dammeier -- His 25th District is in Pierce County.
Sen. Steve O'Ban -- His 28th District includes Chambers Bay.
These lawmakers said they are attending but did not explicitly say they are contributing the full ticket price to charity or buying tickets on their own. At the very least, the members of this group must comply with the Ethics Board's guidance, which means attending the Pierce County briefing and contributing at least the difference between the $50 cap on gifts and the $110 ticket price to the Boys & Girls Clubs:
Rep. Sam Hunt (D)
Rep. Laurie Jinkins (D) -- Her 27th District includes Tacoma.
Rep. Drew Stokesbary (R) -- His 31st District includes Pierce County
Sen. Karen Fraser (D)
Sen. Curtis King (R)
Most who received invitations are not accepting:
House Speaker Frank Chopp (D)
House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan (D)
House Minority Leader Dan Kristiansen (R)
Rep. Michelle Caldier (R)
Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D)
Rep. Judy Clibborn (D)
Rep. Hans Dunshee (D)
Rep. Carol Gregory (D)
Rep. Graham Hunt (R)
Rep. Ross Hunter (D)
Rep. Chris Hurst (D)
Rep. Christine Kilduff (D)
Rep. Steve Kirby (D)
Rep. Dick Muri (R)
Rep. David Sawyer (D)
Rep. J.T. Wilcox (R)
Rep. Jesse Young (R)
Rep. Hans Zieger (R)
Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler (R)
Senate Minority Leader Sharon Nelson (D)
Sen. Jan Angel (R)
Sen. Randi Becker (R)
Sen. Jeanne Darneille (D)
Sen. Doug Ericksen (R)
Sen. Andy Hill (R)
Sen. Jim Honeyford (R)
Sen. Linda Evans Parlette (R)
Sen. Pam Roach (R)
KING 5 has not received definitive responses from the following legislators:
Rep. Linda Kochmar (R)
Sen. Brian Dansel (R)
Sen. Mark Miloscia (R)
This article was first posted on June 12.