Swimming with the Gators in Idaho’s Legislative Swamp
As the storm in the House of Representatives winds down there continues to brew questions about the appropriateness of the punishment handed out by Speaker Bedke to Rep. Scott, and so we wonder if there will be a return trip to its epicenter in the near future. Speaker Bedke leveraged his power as speaker in a highly irregular action by removing Rep. Heather Scott from her committee assignments leaving 55,000 North Idaho citizens without the representation they are entitled to by their elected representative. The committees are where real deliberation and action is taken as bills are initially considered. Committees are very important to the Representatives because that is where each member can have the most impact.
We question whether any punishment should have been handed down at all to Rep. Scott in light of the goings on between Representative Christy Perry and Senator Guthrie who have not even been called on the carpet for their alleged extramarital affair. Indeed we still would like to know why the harshness of the punishment for Rep. Scott and the side step by Speaker Bedke on Perry and Guthrie’s violations.
Rep. Scott was removed from her assignments for insinuating that women legislators can barely move up the ranks unless they perform sexual favors for leadership. The question remains who in the leadership would stoop to such a low level, certainly not Speaker Bedke or any of our current leadership. One would believe that they were all above reproach when it comes to the performance of sexual favors. We don’t expect our legislators to be choir boys and girls but there are certain ethical standards which should be expected and adhered to if one is to hold public office.
The one thing that has been a constant during this foray is the obvious pattern of bullying and intimidation including some dirty tricks used to isolate those who threaten the status quo which was so eloquently described by Rep. Ron Nate. I have spoken with three legislators who related similar concerns and for reasons that should be obvious their comments are reported anonymously. They did not want to get the Heather Scott treatment from Gator Bedke.
During my conversations these representatives related to me how they have been put upon to join the speaker and other leadership members behind closed where they were brow beat with threats of having similar penalties imposed upon them if they did not “Get In Line”. One said that they were physically grabbed by a member of leadership in the hallway in a forceful manner. They all described the environment as extremely hostile to anyone who was going to buck the establishment and back Representative Scott.
The question begged by these representatives’ comments is whether the Speaker’s chosen style is intimidation, bullying and power plays has been leveraged against women who are members or who work for the Legislature in secretarial or other positions. Could it have been that Rep. Scott struck such a nerve with the Speaker and others in leadership that it caused them to react in such a pompous and draconian fashion?
Now not everyone disagrees with Speaker Bedke’s style. A number of House members recently took to Idaho Public TV, including the Speaker appearing to express unfettered support for the actions he took and encouraged the way he does business. One must ask themselves if there is any reason to doubt that leadership does not intimidate to get what they want. If that is the case why hasn’t anyone stepped forward to file a complaint or could it be that any complaints would be buried without seeing the light of day? If there have been indiscretions and alleged inappropriate actions in the past by anyone in a powerful position you would think that we would have heard about them. Or is the demeanor of the leadership so intimidating that no one would dare call them out for fear of optimal retribution?
You have to wonder how bad things have gotten with intimidation that members or employees would condone and in fact keep quiet about any ethically inappropriate actions by members of leadership. What it would signal is that many members of the house would not report ethical violations and actually support the Speakers style of leadership, and are complicit in it. If their support extends to actual ethical violations including intimidation of women it would expose a sickness in the Statehouse that would confirm the worst suspicions of the public. It would indicate that the “Good old Boys” have the whole place in an immoral headlock.
The moral of the alleged immoral story seems to unavoidably be there is a need to drain the swamp of ‘leadership” in the Idaho House of Representatives, which is long overdue. Too many of these leaders have held office for way longer than they should have and need replacing. While we believe the exorcism should start with Speaker Bedke, this will not be enough to remove the sickness. Every member who supports Speaker Bedke’s style should be purged as well.
Representative Scott stood up for what she believed and was not afraid to say it out loud. Has everyone heard of the first amendment except for our legislative leaders? The simple fact that she stirred up such a fuss has to tell you that we either have the most moral and ethical leaders bordering on sainthood in our legislature or they are scared to death that the public might think that there is some hanky panky going on. As far as we are concerned Rep. Scott is a heroine and should be heralded by all Idahoans as the one who finally exposed the demonstrably corrupt bullying nature of the leaders in our legislature.
Remember folks, “We Get the Government We Deserve.”
Edited to change photo 2/20/2017