Whether Rep. Lenore Barrett's voters choose to retain her in office is their business, of course. But a recent mailer from the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry's Idaho Prosperity Fund regarding Barrett took my breath away for its dishonesty.
The group contends in the mailing that Barrett is OK with, and maybe supportive of, the introduction of wolves into Idaho. Says the mailer, "Lenore voted twice against Legislation that would help us combat our wolf problem" and in big red letters that she is "ignoring the threat of wolves and putting politics first."
I recall in 2011, even though he previously promised to support it, Gov. Butch Otter wasn't sure whether to sign or veto a bill allowing him to declare an emergency and call for the destruction of wolves that were threatening lives, wildlife or property. This was prior to delisting.
The governor's office summoned the principal players in the legislation, including me, to a conference call on the topic. I happened to be in Challis at the time, so Barrett and I participated in the phone call together. During the discussion that followed, Barrett made an impassioned plea, noting her constituents are under constant, very real, threat from wolves. She was quite irate that the governor was even considering veto. Said Barrett finally, "Sign the damn bill already." I remember it like it was yesterday. Otter did sign it, grudgingly.
That exchange is not widely known outside of the group on the phone call. But Barrett's dislike of wolves, on par with her dislike of Big Government, is well known, especially to the people at IACI.
Barrett last legislative session voted against setting up the wolf board and the associated fees on ranchers (really, the victim of the crime of wolf introduction) to sustain the new bureaucracy. She said we have enough government boards, and a new one was unnecessary to solve the problem. That's the vote for which IACI is beating Barrett over the head. She voted against the bill and a re-draft of the same legislation.
I didn't know IACI cares so much about wolves. Actually, I'm confident the group doesn't. I suspect that what IACI is really irritated over is Barrett's opposition to the corporate welfare legislation that has become increasingly popular at the Statehouse in recent years. If IACI wants to take on Barrett, or anyone else for that matter, they can. I'd argue that they should.
Politicians should be scrutinized up, down and sidewise. I just wish they'd do it in a way that doesn't cheapen the political process, as this mailing does in the worst possible way.