In a Democracy, transparency matters. Honesty matters. Having elected officials who adhere to these basic principals matters. And when leadership is complicit in the face of corruption, working against transparency, in support of lying politicians, well, that matters too.
Idaho Republicans have done nothing to reassure us in the past few days (or since the Inauguration) that they will have a backbone and stand against the known criminality and lies coming out of Washington, D.C.
Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General of Donald Trump’s Justice Department, lied under oath recently and disqualified himself from participating in an investigation as a result of those uncovered lies. In case you haven’t been following the Jeff Sessions story, here’s a review.
To recap, the man lied under oath. That’s perjury. A crime that Sessions himself has said is an impeachable offense. But that doesn’t stop many Idaho Republicans from defending him. Idaho Senator Mike Crapo has continued to defend and support the corporate crony and known racist. And Idaho’s Congressman Raul Labrador praised Sessions recently in a press release when asked about the most recent Trump admin scandal. He dodged the point about perjury of course and instead expressed warm approval, saying Sessions “did the right thing” by recusing himself. We think doing “the right thing” would include Sessions announcement of resignation, as many top Democrats have already suggested.
As Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU put it, “If senators of both parties allow an attorney general nominee to plainly lie under oath with no repercussions, they will render our government’s cabinet confirmation process no more than kabuki theater.” So we got that going for us.
Clearly, Idaho’s national delegates are too cowardly to stand up to anyone in the Trump Administration, but what is being done to protect transparency and accountability for us here at home? We’ll tell you … nothing. In fact, based on the majority party’s recent actions in the Legislature, they are actively working against these tenants of our Democracy.
Just this week, Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, introduced a bill (HB 233) that seeks to block all communications between legislators (such as emails and text messages) from public disclosure. It would also shield communications between private citizens and lawmakers, but not lobbyists.
Feel free to insert endless jokes about emails, servers, and the GOP’s laughable obsession with transparency here.
“We rely on openness in government and public records to do our job of keeping people informed about their government, a fundamental mission of our free press,” the president of the Idaho Press Club told the Associated Press. We agree. Those in favor of this legislation need to be reminded that they work for their constituents.
There is a recent effort put forth by Rep. Mat Erpelding, D-Boise, to create an Inspector General’s office in Idaho, which would fight to protect transparency and accountability in our state government. Great timing since corruption is becoming the new normal. We are hopeful that this idea sticks with others in leadership and that we will soon have an Inspector General.
Before we head outdoors for the day to enjoy our beautiful public lands, there is one more piece of anti-Democracy legislation we need to tell you about. HB150 was introduced last week by Rep. Dustin Manwaring, R-Pocatello. It seeks to limit voter access and create less local control. His great idea is to create a standardized system for the state around early voting. The need is baseless. We trust that county clerks know what is best for their towns during election season and that they do not need the state telling them how to do their job.
If the past 45 days have taught us anything at all, it’s that we need more access to the ballot box, not less.
When lying and corruption isn’t challenged at the national level it sets a dangerous standard for the entire country. And since our Idaho GOP national reps aren’t grounded in honest values of their own, we need to be even more vigilant.
Use this link to find your local representative. Tell them you oppose HB 150, the legislation that limits voter access. Tell them you oppose HB 23, the legislation that would privatize emails, texts, correspondence, and other legislative documents from the press and the public. Tell them you support creating a position for an Inspector General in Idaho.
No more business as usual for the folks with the cushy jobs.