Cambodia’s government on Tuesday defended its decision to hire a U.S. state lawmaker to lobby on behalf of its interests in Congress, amid a low point in relations between Washington and Phnom Penh prompted by democratic rollbacks in the Southeast Asian nation.
PacRim Bridges LLC, a company owned by Washington state Senator Doug Ericksen and Jay Rodne—a former Washington state representative who left office earlier this year—will be paid U.S. $500,000 annually by Cambodia’s government “to promote improved relations between the USA and the Kingdom of Cambodia,” Politico reported last week, citing a U.S. Justice Department filing.
State lawmakers are rarely involved in foreign affairs, and the awarding of the contract came after Ericksen traveled twice to Cambodia last year, including during July to observe elections widely considered unfree and unfair amid a crackdown by the government on the country’s political opposition, NGOs and independent media.
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