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Jim Kershner’s this day in history

Sat., April 6, 2013

From our archives, 100 years ago

Elizabeth H. Christian, the first female lobbyist in the state, filed a detailed expense account of her stint in Olympia – and The Spokesman-Review’s Olympia correspondent had a great deal of front-page fun with it.

Christian had “upset all the sacred traditions of the honorable profession” by filing an itemized statement of her expenses, he wrote.

“Such a thing is unheard of and the veterans in the service are holding up their hands in horror,” he wrote.

For one thing, she only rang up $170 for four weeks of lobbying, seriously undercutting the standard price.

“Why, there are men lobbyists who wouldn’t undertake a week’s ‘fixing’ trip into a little country district for short of $100,” he said.

He also had fun with some of the items on the list. Only 45 cents for alcohol? And nothing at all for “incidentals” or “miscellaneous,” the standard lobbyist’s category for carousing of any kind?

The story also noted that she spent $3.05 on “fines in the third house.” The lobbyists called themselves the “third house” of government, and this entry meant that the other lobbyists had fined her in their mock court.

The story also noted that she was a lobbyist for Spokane’s Women’s Democratic Club, but nobody – not even the legislators – ever figured out exactly what issue she was lobbying for.

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