A dozen state lawmakers have accepted free one-day passes to the U.S. Open golf championship that will take place in University Place next week, though several said they are making a charitable donation to offset the value of the tickets.
Pierce County officials offered free one-day passes to more than 40 state lawmakers so they could attend the event, which the county is hosting at Chambers Bay, the county-owned golf course.
As of Friday, 12 lawmakers had said they will attend using the complimentary tickets provided by the county, said Pierce County spokesman Hunter George.
Each one-day ticket is valued at about $110, county officials told the state’s Legislative Ethics Board earlier this year.
Normally state lawmakers can’t accept gifts larger than $50, but the ethics board said legislators could make an exception to attend the U.S. Open, since the event will connect with their official legislative duties.
County officials said lawmakers’ visit will include a three-hour presentation discussing the economic benefits of the U.S. Open to the region, improvements that have been made to the public golf course over the years, and how the state can help bring the event back to Pierce County in the future.
Some of the lawmakers who plan to attend the event said they are making a donation to the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound that equals or surpasses the value of their free one-day pass. Lawmakers who said they are taking that route include state Rep. Jake Fey, D-Tacoma; Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-Tacoma; and Sen. Bruce Dammeier, R-Puyallup.
UPDATE: Reps. Melanie Stambaugh, R-Puyallup, Drew Stokesbary, R-Auburn, and Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis, said that they, too, are donating to the Boys & Girls Clubs.
In addition to those legislators, here are the other lawmakers who are so far are using tickets provided by Pierce County, according to county officials:
• Sen. Steve Conway, D-Tacoma.
• Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma.
• Sen. Karen Fraser, D-Olympia.
• Rep. Eileen Cody, D-Seattle.
• Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima and the Senate Transportation chairman.
• Rep. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia.