Senate Pro Tem Chuck Winder is using his position of power to intimidate and silence legislators with whom he disagrees. For that, he deserves to be investigated for ethics violations.
Sadly, that will likely never happen because Senate rules require ethics complaints to go through him, which is emblematic of the authoritarian system devised and maintained by establishment lawmakers like Winder.
Winder sent letters on Nov. 6 to Sens. Scott Herndon and Glenneda Zuiderveld accusing them of disrespecting Senate colleagues. In the letters, Winder said he had removed Zuiderveld from her role as Senate Health and Welfare Committee vice chairman and threatened to remove Herndon from the Legislature's budget committee.
This is outrageous, if not unprecedented. Neither senator has done anything wrong. Indeed, all they have done is voice their opinions of the policymaking by the Republican establishment. Whether their opinions are correct or incorrect is unimportant. In America, everyone has freedom of speech, and Winder seeks to deny them theirs.
Winder's removal of Zuiderveld from the vice chairmanship of the Health and Welfare Committee is also interesting in that she's the only member there that has shown the least bit of interest in the Department of Health and Welfare's misallocation of millions of dollars for a pre-kindergarten program that lawmakers rejected a couple of years ago. Zuiderveld helped bring the issue to light, no thanks to Winder.
Winder accuses Herndon of failing to work on budgets, which is also a lie. In fact, Herndon is one of the most effective and engaged members of the committee, and he had more to say about state spending and eloquently defended taxpayers both in committee and on the Senate floor than anyone else last session. He offered alternatives to leftist spending policies, some of which were adopted into law and others that were disregarded.
Winder is clearly abusing his power. It's a bullying tactic, an election year ploy intended to smear the good names of two lawmakers who have come to Boise to keep their promises to do something about the establishment leftist cabal that has ruled the state for decades under the phony guise of conservatism. These two senators have pulled back the curtain, revealing the truth, and Winder just can't handle it.
Fortunately, these two conservative legislators are not alone. Our friends at the Idaho Freedom Caucus are speaking out in defense of their colleagues. And I expect they will continue to unite forces against the likes of Winder.
Winder's message is simple and intended to terrify: shut up, and nothing bad will happen to you. Continue to piss me off, and I'll punish you. Charming behavior for the leader of the state Senate, to be sure. It's an antic worthy of a Third World dictator, but it's just the sort of thing one would expect from a small, spineless man.
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