A Relaxed Recall Law Would Be Ultimate Ethics Panel

When Idaho’s Republican senators met Wednesday to determine whether or not to leave Caldwell Senator John McGee in a leadership post, they did something that citizen voters are all but denied–vote on the conduct of an incumbent politico.

Under Idaho law, citizens must obtain signatures of 20% of the REGISTERED voters just to get a recall case–like McGee for instance–on the ballot. That threshold is all but impossible, especially when some elections have a turnout of only 20% of the voters. The old law required 20% of those who VOTED in the last election to sign a petition for recall.

In the end, the club let the convicted drunk driver who crashed a motor home that wasn’t his remain in a leadership post to make laws of the state of Idaho. The AP STORY in the daily was flooded with comments that were mostly opposed to the GOP decision to leave McGee in leadership.

That incident and the response of the senate points up a growing need for a state ethics commission–and perhaps a change in the recall law.

Consider some recent incidents that come to mind:

–Legislators and their wives accepting gratuities in the form of free travel to Turkey because of their public office.

–A senator who poaches timber off public land and refuses to pay income tax.

–Legislators who pad their retirement and charge the public for a second residence in Boise when they live less than 50 miles from the capitol.

–A state treasurer who uses his state credit card to pay for his daily commute to the office and chooses limos instead of a taxi while on state business trips to NY City.

–A member of the Greater Boise Auditorium District who lives and works in Idaho Falls, but somehow claims residence in Boise.

The standard line of politicos when the subject of recall comes up is, “You can always vote them out at the next election.”

That may be true, but meanwhile the public is served by drunken scofflaws who are not held in check by fear of being ousted for their misdeeds. Heck, prosecutors were even afraid to do their job and prosecute McGee–it was handled by an out of state attorney from Oregon.

A less onerous recall statute would do a lot for ethical behavior.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Does anyone really expect a politician to vote in any kind of supervision over themselves? The fox is in charge of the hen house and he aint gonna give that up without a fight.

  2. Loser Emeritus
    Jan 11, 2012, 8:48 pm

    Let’s not let the public forget about this when he is up for re-election.

  3. First you have to have voters.

  4. Sad commentary on leadership in Idaho. The Legislature might just as well adjourn — its work is done, it has protected one of its own. Apparently justice’s head can be turned by a slick and polished pretty head (McGee is a flack for a hospital), a sweet young wife and two babes. No particular sympathy for former Boise Mayor Coles, but he must be ticked that so many others in high places have gotten passes since him when he actually had to serve time in jail. He should have been an example of what not to do, not what to do. Just a thought on a chilly morning where I am thoroughly disgusted by these hollow, shallow people who have forgotten what they learned in kindergarten, the boy scouts and girl scouts and MOM!


  5. Rod in SE Boise
    Jan 12, 2012, 1:17 pm

    We need term limits, public financing of campaigns, and relaxed recall rules.

  6. Don’t forget the sweet deal legislators have where each session counts as a full year toward a PERSI retirement. And.. the per diem cash they get figures into their PERSI retirement calculations.

    Term limits would end all this nonsense but they won’t let that happen. They voted down a people’s initiative a few years back in the first 10 minutes of the session. None of them got voted out of office for this “in your face” deal.

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