City Government

Officials Fiesta Travel Style Differs

Guv Butch was reduced to hitch-hiking on his first official day in office. Seems he thumbed a ride to the Fiesta Bowl with ex-father-in-law J.R. Simplot on the company plane.

J.R. is 98 today and recovering from a fall and bump on the head suffered outside the Fiesta Bowl. We wish him and the family all the best.

Butch appropriately had sideline seating befitting the governor. We hope that bumming rides on corporate jets isn’t a sign of the future.

Meanwhile Boise City’s Team Dave reports Mayor Bieter paid for everything out of his own pocket and sat in the stands with the orange and blue fans. Even a great football game has political overtones.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Butch just is better connected than Dave.
    Count the ways.

    1) Past employee and President of J.R. Simplot Corporation.
    2) Ex son-in-law of J.R. Simplot.
    3) Father of 4 grandchildren for J.R. Simplot.

  2. I’m speculating that Team Dave is a late-arrival, hopping on the Bronco bandwagon. (After all, he IS an Idaho Vandal, and we know how the Vandals feel about the Broncos, huh?)

    As Team Dave played the role of Head Cheerleader upon the Bronco Bus triumphant arrival down at the stadium (caught on the local news), I wondered how the gold-and-black nation up north would feel about one of their own, decked out in the full blue-and-orange package.

    Speaking of “up north,” did you see that much of the Palouse country didn’t get to watch the game?

  3. Interesting take Guardian. It strikes me that the Governor and Idaho’s richest man are pretty cozy still, even after the divorce. There are many people that would like that kind of access to Idaho’s Governor. A plane ride seems like a cheap purchase for a couple of exclusive hours of time. But then I imagine he gets an audience any time he wants. I wonder what they talked about?

    Closed door hearings in the legislature, private ceremonies for public office, membership in the exclusive Arid Club, and junkets to football games kind of like those golf trips to Scotland ala Abramhoff.

    Hang on to your wallets. Republicans still in power in Idaho. And you won’t know what hit you.

    EDITOR NOTE–We hear Butch called the company for the ride and found two empty seats. We think most people would have had no qualms about using the state owned plane such a public event representing Idaho.

  4. Is the Guardian really sure most people would have had no qualms about Butch using the state-owned plane to attend such an event? Does that mean flying to every BSU football game would qualify for representation for Idaho next year? Why is it okay this time and not all others (i.e., what was the “official” business involved)? Would the state plane have flown with just the Guv and his wife — or who would the other recipients of the freebie have been? Rather than being concerned about access to J.R. (who at 97 and limited in his faculties seems to have little to do with the company’s needs and operations any more), the better question might be who else was on the Simplot private plane with the Guv for a couple of hours? Sorry, but I think the Guardian would/should have questioned the use of anything other than a commercial flight for the Governor’s entertainment outing.

    EDITOR NOTE–Since there is so much enthusiasm out there, we were trying to be “politically correct” recognizing he was part of a “national event” with Idaho as a key player. You make good points.

  5. curious george
    Jan 4, 2007, 5:47 pm

    Seems that since Butch no longer has a direct family tie to J.R. Simplot (he even had the marriage annulled by the church), wouldn’t accepting such a “gift” exceed the $50 cap placed on all such transactions?

    Seems like Boise’s ex-mayor (and ex-con) got in trouble for accepting a similar “gift” to a sporting event in 2002.

  6. FYI from afar. Dave Bieter’s dad was a much-loved Boise State professor (Pat Bieter) and DB just went to UofI law school. He actually has closer ties to BSU. His brother is also a professor there. You should check into your facts before you speculate to much on things – that’s how stupid rumors get started 🙂

  7. I guess I am confused…it is late. If Butch flew with his children’s grandpa to Arizona on grandpa’s corporate jet, how did that morph into flying on a state-owned plane? I hope the Simplot Corp. does not own the state of Idaho, but it wouldn’t surprise me. 🙂

    EDITOR NOTE–As gov. he isn’t supposed to accept “gifts” worth more than $50. He went to the game as Guv and using state plane would have been proper. He has seen the light and is paying for the ride himself. Good move on Butch’s part.

  8. An AP story from 5 p.m. Thursday says that Governor Otter has now asked to be billed for the flight he and First Lady Lori took to Phoenix. It would seem that the GUARDIAN’s coverage has had an impact on the decision-making in this situation.

    In the AP story it says, “According to Idaho law, gifts to public servants are allowed if they are ‘conferred on account of kinship or other personal, professional or business relationship independent of the official status of the receiver.'”

    It would be difficult to argue that Butch and JR didn’t already enjoy a close personal, professional AND business relationship prior to this trip. Nevertheless, when ethics in government are the issue, it is best to err on the side of caution. The new governor is to be commended for ensuring that he does so in this case.

  9. “Guv Butch was reduced to hitch-hiking on his first official day in office. Seems he thumbed a ride to the Fiesta Bowl with ex-father-in-law J.R. Simplot on the company plane.”

    A little harsh, in my opinion.

  10. Yossarian_22
    Jan 5, 2007, 9:56 am

    Who’s getting access to who? Even if Otter pays for his spot on Simplot Airlines, it still smacks of special priviledges for the rich and powerful.

    Otter gets a nice business jet ride and conversation (politicking) with Simplot (at what rate?) or Simplot gets *paid* to have access to the Governor for “conversation”. Must be nice.

    The rich/powerful coziness just keeps on keepin’ on.

  11. I agree Stephen, we would have major qualms if Butch had used state money to attend the game. He’s got plenty of his own money, some of which we provide for the job he does for us.

    Many folks of lesser means attended that game. But I think access to the Governor, not Simplot, is the ethical question here. And I haven’t heard that Simplot has been declared incompetent to handle his affairs. From all but the most recent reports he’s quite adept at continuing to control and manipulate his empire. You’re naive if you think that this type of face time does not translate into influence. But we all may be naive if we believed that Simplot wouldn’t be a driving force behind decisions in an Otter administration. Otter may look the good old boy rancher but make no mistake he is the face of big business in Idaho.

    Guardian, I note that the decision to pay for the plane ride only came about after being confronted by the AP on the story. The offer to pay does not remove the ethical taint and instead underscores the closeness of the relationship because it never occurred to Otter that it may be wrong, whether he broke the law or not. It contrasts starkly with the Mayor’s style and discloses volumes about both men. Good post.

  12. Clippityclop
    Jan 5, 2007, 12:00 pm

    Sisyphus is dead on… it ain’t about the money.

  13. It always amazes me how we always vote in the rich and then complain cause they hang out with the rich. Surly you don’t think they work in their elected office to help the rich do you?

  14. J.R. has been rich forever. Otter hasn’t known the word poor in a very long time. They are connected by blood lines (as in Otter’s children are J.R.’s grandchildren) – those relationships don’t go away with a divorce. I know this from experience. If we want a middle class guy/gal in office I guess we will have to check this stuff out before election day. Oh, I forgot, Idahoans only vote for Republicans. And, I expect none of the Dems that ran were poor folk either.

    On another note, I am really glad that Otter made a honest woman (as we used to say in the olden days) of Lori just in the nick of time – Idaho probably isn’t ready for a First Girlfriend. 🙂 That might have been fun though.

  15. I don’t see any problem with Gov. Otter riding in Simplot’s personal plane for free.

    Their relationship is long established and connected by blood… it doesn’t get any closer than that. Seems to me that some might be nitpicking or uninformed of the law if they have issues with this. Governor Otter… Keep your money, you did the right thing and followed the law. We can’t ask more than that.

  16. It will be interesting if Simplot only charges the State $1.00 for the R/T flight to the big game. That will really make for some amusing stories.

    The thing about Butch is he talks a big line about being a “Libertarian” but the perks of that type of political thought are usually reserved for the use of the powerful. I’m sure in ole Butch’s mind he was just trying to save Idaho taxpayers some money.

    Big business and big agriculture will benefit mightily from state sponsored corporate socialism under this administration. They will call it “freedom” for you and me.

  17. I actually gave Butch some credit for having libertarian leanings and fighting the Patriot Act based upon them. But that went out the window when he supported HJR 2 and refusing gay couples the same rights as straight couples.

    He has no right to support laws restricting liberty and call himself a libertarian. It appears his philosophy for less government is now reserved for when new law would apply to restrict business concerns. Thank god Risch stopped Sempra before Butch got in the chair. But I suppose with all the money Sempra gave Butch they may be back.

    I agree John, but lassiez faire economics would hardly be considered socialistic. Patman, he may have followed the law but I don’t agree that he did the right thing.

  18. It occurred to me that perhape the “State plane” was pretty slow and not appropriate for travel to Arizona.. whereas the Simplot jet is surely a screamer. Seems to me that I remember reading that the Guv flies on a turbo prop.. perhaps owned by the Air Guard. I e-mailed the lady at teh Aeronautics Division of ITD and asked for a list of State planes. No response yet. Will keep you posted.

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