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.
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