Nez Perce Co sheriff’s Facebook account makes fun of unreported sexual assault

By Melissa Davlin, Idaho Reports 
A post on an Idaho sheriff’s Facebook page is raising questions in his community over how sexual assault victims are treated.

On Friday afternoon, a Facebook account belonging to Nez Perce County Sheriff Joe Rodriguez posted an image of an elderly woman with the caption, “My ass was groped in 1886. I waited till now to tell about it.”

rodriguez

Screenshot courtesy Jesse Maldonado

The post doesn’t say as much, but the allusion is clear: The past week’s national headlines have been dominated by 36-year-old accusations of sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh, whom President Donald Trump nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court in July. The allegations stalled the Senate committee vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation, and critics have asked accuser Christine Blasey Ford why she didn’t report the alleged attack when it happened.

Idaho Democratic Party second vice chairman Jesse Maldonado, a Lewiston native, posted a screenshot of the since-deleted post, prompting a vigorous discussion of sexual assault and social media use.

“And people wonder why sexual assault victims don’t come forward. This is Nez Perce County’s Sheriff. Despicable, Joe,” Maldonado wrote. “How about a town hall with women and let them tell you why they don’t come forward and speak up?”

After dozens of comments — most criticizing Rodriguez — a Facebook account belonging to Rodriguez’s wife claimed the sheriff hadn’t, in fact, posted the original image. The account then posted a statement allegedly from Rodriguez himself:

“Sexual harassment is something I would not tolerate or deal with in any fashion, on or off duty. So when I heard of this story I was wondering what happened. My wife had the message sent to her and she believed she was on her Facebook when it was posted. So to those who believe we would tolerate this I guess you really don’t know either my wife or I very well. Some like to poke the bear, just to get a reaction and those start to feed the story more than what it really is. A poor joke, yes. Bad taste, yes. We have to look at the big picture when we start to post or react to a story. What truth is there. Did you investigate what was said or believe it was true. Kind of lets you know who really is a friend and who says they are a friend to your face, but behind close doors has another reaction.
If this has offended you I apologize,
Sheriff Joe Rodriguez”

But the issue isn’t just about a Supreme Court nomination, offensive jokes, or social media etiquette.

According to RAINN, two out of three sexual assaults nationwide are not reported to law enforcement. And according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, just 12 percent of reported sex crimes in Nez Perce County resulted in arrests between the years of 2009 and 2015. Statewide, that percentage was 24 percent during the same time period.

The controversy prompted an announcement from Lewiston police officer Terry Koeper: “We must, as neighbors, friends and family members stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those who have faced these appalling acts against them and put an end to sexual assault in our community,” he wrote on his campaign Facebook page. “I ran against our current sheriff in 2016 for a multitude of reasons, and after these revelations, plan to do so again in 2020.”

Rodriguez has not yet returned a request for comment. This post will be updated if that changes.

 

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Death & Secrecy

 

Chamber Looking South

Courtesy Idaho Department of Correction

By Seth Ogilvie, Idaho Reports

Seven years ago, the state of Idaho killed two men in a six month period.

Only a few people at the Idaho Department of Correction know exactly how these men died.

In 2017, University of Idaho professor Aliza Cover submitted a public records request to find out what happened in the “green room,” the small cream colored execution chamber at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution.

The public doesn’t really have enough information to make an informed decision about at least the methods by which we’re putting people to death,” Cover told Idaho Reports.

But the Department of Correction has refused to comply with an April 5th order from District Judge Lynn Norton to hand over documents related to the executions, and Cover’s lawyers passed up an opportunity to challenge that refusal.

In the most recent hearing, Norton asked Cover’s attornies why they had not asked the state to be held in contempt.

 

On September 17th, Norton ordered a trial. In court, Norton mused it was the only procedural remedy if contempt hearings were not initiated.

The question in the upcoming trial: Should Idahoans know how people are executed with their taxpayer dollars?

“These are obvious matters of extreme societal significance, perhaps the apex of societal significance,” Ritchie Eppink, Legal Director for the Idaho ACLU told Idaho Reports.

IDOC offers a little transparency. Three reporters witnessed the executions. They saw pentobarbital injected into the two men, but they did not see how the drugs were procured and stored, or how the fatal cocktail was prepared. “Idaho officials are trying to keep this information from the public.” Cover said.

The Department of Correction claims the secrecy is about the safety and privacy of the people involved in the execution, from the doctors who administer the drugs to the companies that manufacture them. “The idea that we as a people would collectively kill someone,” Eppink said, “Those issues of privacy just simply do not arise here.”

There was a national crisis in 2010 to 2011 when drugs used in executions became scarce, Cover said. “It created a pattern of states turning to secrecy where there hadn’t been a strong emphasis on secrecy before, because they didn’t have legitimate sources for the drugs or they were experimenting with new protocols that were not thought out and well established in terms of safety.”

The Rhoades and Leavitt executions in 2011 and 2012 were right in that wake that national crisis.

“We know that states are hiding things that are scandalous and are criminal,” Eppink Said. “These are the kinds of things that make ordinary people drop their jaws.” Eppink is referencing experimental execution drugs and procedures in states like Tennessee, Nevada, and Oklahoma.

Revealing the manufacturer of the drugs could put people at risk, argues the state. “The source has significant concerns that the source would be subjected to harassment and harm to the source’s business,” Jeff Zmuda, deputy director of the Idaho Department of Correction, said in a sworn deposition.

This conflict creates a catch 22 for Idaho. “Disclosing the identity of the source of a lethal injection,” said Deputy Attorney General Jessica Kuehn, “would jeopardize the department’s ability to carry out an execution,”

According to Eppink, this creates a system where there is “no judicial oversight effectively, no legislative oversight, no public oversight of where our lethal injection drugs are coming from, whether they are safe, whether they are even appropriate for lethal injection in the first place. There is no way for the public to verify whether these drugs are even made by licensed suppliers. There is no way for the public to verify whether or not there are political or financial ties between the Department of Correction officials that are purchasing these drugs and the people that are supplying these drugs.”

Idaho Code gives the Department of Correction the ability to withhold documents when confidentiality, public safety, and security clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure. The department of correction believes “disclosing such information would subject such chemical sources to harassment and pressure,” Kuehn said.

Idaho’s public records law states a public agency shall not prevent the examination or copying of a public record by contracting with a non-governmental body to perform any of its duties or functions. “It is exactly what is happening here,” Eppink said.

“The number of documents that actually discuss the drugs at all are very very small,” Kuehn said.  Only three pages that are known of that actually discussed the source at all and who the source is.”

The almost year-long records request, however, has created an interesting document trail. First, the Department of Corrections provided five documents in a web link after the September 24, 2017, request.  

After Cover petitioned the court, the Department of Corrections found hundreds of more pages of responsive documents.

Here are links to the bulk of the documents disclosed:

Disk 1

Disk 2

In the most recent court hearing, frustrations about the Department of Corrections disclosure were openly expressed by the judge.

“I have to tell you now I have some concerns,” Norton told the court. “Now you’re telling me 900 pages later that there were at least 900 pages of things that the state had not produced at that point. So it does give me pause as to whether the evidence at the hearing was actually accurate, quite frankly.”

Norton ordered disclosure of unredacted documents, including the source of the lethal injection drugs.

Despite the order, the Department of Correction did not disclose the source of the drugs, but continued to find documents. “They failed to do a diligent search,” Norton said in the most recent court appearance. “After the court’s order then (they) did a diligent search.”

The Department of Correction claimed that many of the newly found documents were not purposely withheld, but were missing in odd places. “A box containing execution-related documents was found in the office of an employee who has since promoted and no longer works at Central Office,” Zmuda said.

“It’s very clear that that’s not a well-thought-out file plan,” Norton told the court.

Idaho’s public records law has a time frame. The disclosure of records is supposed to be timely within three working days or for more time-intensive searches “no later than ten working days following the person’s request. Not making a prompt search “would allow a public agency, through a motion to reconsider, allow them to wait until after contested proceedings, after a final writ of mandate before diligently searching,” Eppink said.

“For an ordinary person trying to get access to the same information,” Cover said, “it would be really difficult to be able to sustain this kind of litigation.”

Norton modified the disclosure writ on Monday, allowing IDOC “to redact portions of record(s) that would identify the source of execution drugs for the Rhoades and Leavitt executions since this issue is reserved for a trial on the merits.”

The trial will get at the heart of the disagreement: Do Idaho citizens have a right to know how they are putting people to death, or, as the Department of Correction says, is the secrecy needed for capital punishment to exist?

“Even if the death penalty is constitutional, there may be an unconstitutional method for putting them to death,” said Cover. “If there is an unreasonable risk of pain and suffering to a human who’s being put to death then we have a constitutional problem. The death penalty is not the same thing as torture.”

The department and the state, however, are steadfast moving forward and “will not disclose, under any circumstance, the identity of certain individuals involved in executions, as well as any other information wherein the disclosure of that information could jeopardize the department’s ability to carry out an execution,” Kuehn said.

Well, obviously, records that show that the department has been killing people illegally or is planning to kill people illegally, or there are reasons to expect that an execution has been or will be botched,” Eppink said. “That is going to jeopardize an execution.”

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In Idaho, where you live can affect how long you live

By Melissa Davlin, Idaho Reports

 

If you’re a man in north Idaho’s Benewah County, you can expect to live about 74 years.

But if you drive south through the rolling hills of the Palouse, you’ll soon end up in Latah County, where men live an average of 78 years — four years longer than their immediate neighbors to the north.

The disparity demonstrates what sociologists and doctors have long known: How long you live might depend on which county you call home, and there’s no one cause, or solution, to the problem.

The gap between Latah and Benewah is one of many stark examples of Idaho life expectancy differences. If you’re a man who lives in Canyon County, your life expectancy of 76 years is two years less than your neighbors 10 minutes down the road in Ada County. Men in Teton County live an average of nearly 81 years; just south in Bonneville, that drops to 76.5. Blaine County women live more than three years longer on average than women to the south in Lincoln County, and five years longer than those to the east in Custer County.

Those numbers come from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which aggregated five years’ worth of county-level data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

There are some caveats to this data. Some sparsely populated counties located in the same region have the same averages, suggesting they were grouped together for the data analysis. The data also comes from a 2013 report, and health outcomes may have shifted since then. (Click here to see county by county data. You can also see the data for women here, and the data for men here.)

Upon request, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare provided its own numbers based on analysis of deaths between 2013 and 2017. That data is slightly different than the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s, and, in some cases, suggests even larger inequities between counties. For example, Benewah’s life expectancy stayed near 74 years, while Latah’s jumped to 81 years.

Why the disparities? It’s not just medical access and quality of care. Other factors — income, education, economic opportunities, and housing security — play into a person’s life span.

“Social context and statuses play an important role in shaping a person’s life experiences and life chances, and race, gender and geography have all been found to influence life expectancy,” said Rebecca Som Castellano of Boise State University’s Department of Sociology.

Poverty is also strongly correlated with low life expectancies, said Brian Wolf, Department of Sociology and Anthropology chairman at University of Idaho. That holds true in Benewah County, where two-thirds of children qualify for free and reduced lunch at school, and the median household income is about $39,000. (Compare that to Idaho as a whole, with 48.5 percent of kids qualifying for free and reduced lunch, and a median household income of $47,500.)

“Socioeconomic disadvantage and poverty are strongly associated with both rurality and mortality, and many of the parts of the country with the lowest life expectancy are rural places,” Som Castellano said.

Katherine Hoyer, public information officer for the Panhandle Health District, said a number of other social factors could weigh in on Benewah County’s low life expectancies. A recent assessment by the Panhandle Health District showed Benewah’s teen pregnancy rates are higher than Idaho’s as a whole, as are infant mortality rates. Benewah ranks worse than Idaho on average in a number of other categories: Food insecurity, access to fresh fruits and vegetables, high blood pressure, cancer rates, and the number of people with higher education and high school diplomas.

Benewah County also includes part of the Coeur d’Alene Reservation. American Indian communities experience health care and mortality disparity throughout the country, though a breakdown on race wasn’t available in Benewah County’s mortality statistics through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. (A representative of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe couldn’t be reached for comment.)

So what’s the solution? With so many factors, there’s no one answer. Supporters of Proposition 2, on the ballot in November, hope to address medical issues by making more people eligible for Medicaid, but that won’t immediately fix all barriers to receiving medical care, such as rural doctor shortages and lack of transportation to medical appointments.

The state has focused on improving go-on rates, or the number of high school students who pursue higher education, but has seen limited success. In Benewah County, the 4-H Extension Office has set up garden boxes for fresh vegetables, and a food distribution program attempts to tackle hunger in the community. And the Panhandle Health District is currently working on updating its Community Health Improvement Plan for its north Idaho counties.

“It is often the intersection of multiple dimensions that leads to a lower life expectancy,” Som Castellano said.

And those multiple dimensions will require multiple strategies to overcome.

Reporter’s note: Journalist Suzanne Bohan explores the concept of social determinants affecting life expectancy in “Twenty Years of Life: Why the Poor Die Earlier and How To Challenge Inequity.” In July, I attended a session on this topic by Bohan at an Association of Health Care Journalists training, through which I have a fellowship.

Over the next year, Idaho Reports is digging deep into healthcare issues throughout Idaho as part of the AHCJ fellowship. Keep following us online and on the air for more.

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Newly formed “Work, Not Obamacare PAC” to fight Prop 2

By Melissa Davlin, Idaho Reports

There’s a new player in the fight over Medicaid expansion — or at least, new jerseys for some varsity members of the team.

The newly formed Work, Not Obamacare PAC is aimed at “educating voters about Prop 2,” said PAC chairman Bob Tikker, president of Tikker Engineering.

In November, Idaho voters will consider Proposition 2 — otherwise known as the Medicaid expansion ballot initiative — which would expand Medicaid eligibility to everyone under 138 percent of the poverty line.

And with two months to go before the election, expect to see a lot of money going into both sides of the campaign.

Tikker said he is active with the Idaho Freedom Foundation, but stressed the PAC is separate from the foundation itself.

Idaho Freedom Foundation vice president Fred Birnbaum told Idaho Reports confirmed that the Idaho Freedom Foundation and Work, Not Obamacare PAC are separate entities.

“There’s a lot of election law complexity. We’re going to follow the law to the T,” Birnbaum said. “The Freedom Foundation can do policy work. We can talk about the flaws of expansion. We’ll continue to opine on that.”

But, he added, as an IFF representative, he would stop short of encouraging a no vote.

I would just talk about the flaws and let people make their own decisions on how to vote,” Birnbaum said.

That’s where the PAC comes in.

The PAC will be the only vehicle that will actually go out and work toward a no vote,” Birnbaum said.

One note on the PAC name: There is conflicting research on whether Medicaid recipients work. In a recent Idaho Freedom Foundation column, president Wayne Hoffman cited a report by the Foundation for Government Accountability says more than half of Medicaid expansion recipients nationwide don’t work. But according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, many adults in the so-called Medicaid gap do, in fact, work. 

So far, the Idaho Freedom Foundation has been the most prominent group opposed to Medicaid expansion, though other individuals, like House Majority Caucus Chairman John Vander Woude, have also spoken out publicly against Proposition 2. And in late June, Republican lieutenant governor candidate Janice McGeachin successfully sponsored an amendment to formally oppose Medicaid expansion at the GOP’s state party convention.

But other Republicans have publicly supported Proposition 2, including House Health and Welfare Chairman Fred Wood, and former congressional candidate Christy Perry. Perry is co-chair of the Medicaid expansion campaign.

The Work, Not Obamacare PAC won’t be the first infusion of cash into this campaign. In May, the Fairness Project reported spending nearly half a million dollars in its efforts to support signature-gathering to get Medicaid expansion on the November ballot.

In October, Idaho Reports will air an hour-long special on Medicaid expansion and the potential effects on health care in Idaho. Keep an eye out for details.

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Come for the sentence, stay for the prices

By Seth Ogilvie

This summer, Idaho inmates picked up their prison-issued tablets and, as if they were sitting on a couch in their living room surfing Amazon, placed items in their shopping carts. Shopping on tablets is something non-incarcerated people regularly do. The similarity in the shopping in prison and outside, however, is also a reminder that beneath the surface of those tablets, the process is vastly different.

Idaho prisoners are allowed to purchase JP5 tablets from the JPAY company. They look like iPads, and they can be used to send email, download songs, games and — as the JPAY company likes to highlight in their state contracts — they can be used for education.

JPAY tablet
That’s about where the similarities end. These aren’t iPads, and the JPAY commissary isn’t the Amazon emporium. Prisoners can’t get on iTunes or watch videos on Youtube. Sending an email costs 47 cents, and music costs as much as $3.50 in virtual money. These are services people outside prison cells take for granted.

These prices also have to be put into perspective. Prisoners in Idaho’s correctional institutions receive virtual money that “runs from 10 cents an hour for low-skill jobs to 30 cents an hour for high-skill jobs,” according to the Idaho Department of Corrections website. That could mean after a 40 hour work week, a low skilled prison worker could send nine emails or download one song.

Friends and family are also allowed to fill JPAY accounts with virtual money, but they get no deal on the services. That means they, too, are stuck paying the high price tag.

In Idaho prisons, there is no competition for prices. JPAY has the monopoly, and they want to keep it that way. Documents obtained by the Prison Policy Initiative show a business strategy focused on cutting down competition and controlling prices.

In 2015, Securus, a prison-focused technology company, acquired JPAY. The merger allowed them to provide almost all technology needs for an individual prison or state, and since they are the sole provider of services, they can set the price at virtually any level as long as the corrections department they are contracting with will allow it.

The only people likely to complain about the high prices would be the prisoners and their families, groups that seldom get much sympathy from legislators and the public. The high rates can also be perceived as a punitive measure by citizens outside of prison — “You did the crime, now time to pay the price.”

This summer, prisoners at Idaho correctional facilities found a workaround. Some people called it a hack, some called it a glitch, but to 363 Idaho inmates, it was a heck of a deal.

Inmates discovered that if items were added to their shopping carts either through tablets or kiosks, then those items were deleted, their accounts were credited with the cost.

“JPAY was not hacked. Kiosks were not breached. Tablets were not breached.” Julie McKay told the Idaho Board of Corrections in early August.

Inmates, according to the DOC, credited their accounts with $224,772 in virtual money, with about 50 people exceeding $1,000 and one person getting close $10,000.

“On the 23rd of July, the system was patched,” McKay told the DOC board earlier this month.

The response from social media highlighted several aspects of the system. The glitch brought frustrations about high prices, corporate oversight and prison labor to twitter.

JPAY_tweets3

Tweets supporting the prisoners came rolling in. The narrative on social media took on a Robin Hood-type quality. JPAY has contracts with 20 states. They are the exclusive provider and set the prices in many places outside of Idaho.

JPAY mapFor many on Twitter, the prisoners were finally getting one over on a company that has got one over on the prisoners for years.

IDOC and JPAY saw it differently. They saw the actions as theft, even if the theft was virtual and those who participated received disciplinary reports and were charged by JPAY for items purchased.

Those that were rooting for the prisoners, however, can take a little solace in the fact that they were able to keep the content they purchased, according to Idaho Department of Correction spokesman Jeff Ray.

Let’s hope at least one inmate downloaded Merle Haggard’s “I Made the Prison Band” it would serve as a reminder that there are other ways to hear music in prison. The digitally remastered song cost less than half the JPAY rate at $1.29 on Amazon.

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Come as you are, as I want you to be

 

PJ (1 of 1)By Seth Ogilvie, Idaho Reports

Bob Sojka has had a complicated month. Lately, he and the Democratic Party have had two particularly interesting moments.

The incidents both involved influential female leaders.

Sojka is the State Committeeman for the Twin Falls Democratic Party. At a Sunday picnic sponsored by the party, gubernatorial candidate Paulette Jordan made an appearance.

According to the Times-News, Sojka told the crowd “this is the prom,” referring to the event, “and the prom queen is here,” referring to Jordan.

At the Idaho Democratic Convention Sojka walked to a microphone and told several women and people of color “we deserve an apology.”

Sojka’s demand came after he argued with one of the organizers of Boise’s immigration rally. Thousands of people marched to the steps of the Idaho Statehouse to demand changes to the current immigration policy in the wake of child detention and family separation.

The majority of people at the convention supported the protest but not necessarily their goals. The rally happened just hours before Sojka’s demand.

The Sojka “prom queen” statement could quickly be written off as an innocent comment of an older white man not realizing how it might come across, but that’s the point. Sojka didn’t have to merge his theoretical embrace of diversity with its reality. He didn’t have to unite his support of the protests with what he would be supporting.

A prom queen is traditionally elected based on two criteria, popularity or beauty. Their duties consist of getting their photos taken and serving as an emblem for a high school. They are not vested with or expected to perform any significant responsibilities, nor are they elected for their ability or their character.

The prom queen and king also reinforce strict gender roles. The crown confers that the recipient is either male or female other options are not available.

We reached out to Bob Sojka multiple times over the last month. He has not returned any messages.

Twitter, however, had no problem commenting.

Screen Shot 2018-07-21 at 12.43.21 PMScreen Shot 2018-07-21 at 12.41.57 PM

“I think that it’s a pretty superficial term for a woman that has held office,” Caitlin Copple Masingill, a precinct captain for the Idaho Democrats told Idaho Reports. “This was something to call out.”

Copple was concerned about the repercussions of a statement like this. “It takes a woman being asked an average 12 times before they’ll agree to run,” Copple said. “I think this will make them more hesitant because, with comments like these, it’s that much harder to be taken seriously.”

Sojka may not have realized how the comments would come across, but he had to have had an intention of saying it. We have found no instances of Sojka referring to A.J. Balukoff, Keith Allred or Jerry Brady as the prom king.

He could have said the next Governor of the State of Idaho (a fairly common practice). He could have said the parties leader, he could have even said the new Idaho matriarch if Sojka was determined to inject gender, but he didn’t.

That brings us back to the idea of the emblem. For a straight white man in Idaho, it’s easy to like the idea of diversity. It is easy because, for many Idahoans, it’s theoretical. It’s not uncommon for people in Boise, a supposed hotbed of liberalism, to go an entire day without knowingly talking to a person of color or a person from the LGBTQ community.

Without familiarity, it’s easy to transpose one’s ideas, values, and desires onto the blank canvass of that other individual. A Native American woman can be perceived as the same as that straight white man as long as they stay theoretical, as long as all of their hopes, dreams, values, and abilities remain unknown.

Conversely, people can be vilified without familiarity. We’ve seen it throughout history in racist or xenophobic ideology.

At the Idaho Democratic Convention Jennifer Martinez introduced an amendment to the Democratic body that would support the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The debate was heated. The majority of the people in the room wanted to support the protests going on that same day. They didn’t want children separated from their parents. They knew the compassionate, and moral thing to do was to stand up for these families, and they wanted to be on the side of the protestors, but the demonstrators had aims.

They did not support what Martinez, one of the event organizers, said was the aim of the protests.

Their aims were the abolition of ICE and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). These aims were not popular with the majority of the people in the room. The protest like the prom queen would be more appealing for some without the ideological baggage.

An argument broke out at the convention. One side wanted to support the protestors, but not the aims to abolish ICE and CBP.  Sojka joined that side. The others claimed you couldn’t support a protest without supporting the goals of the rally.

After several minutes of debate, Martinez’s amendment died.

Jessica Chilcott took the microphone after the vote. “We had a chance to be an ally to communities of color, and we rejected it. If we’re going to, as a room full of white people claim that we’re allies for people of color, we should try to act like it.”

Chilcott put a spotlight on the issue Democrats in Idaho are facing. Being theoretically in favor of diversity is different from accepting diversity for what it is.

The Idaho Democratic party has always marketed itself as tolerant, accepting and as a big tent. The Democratic party has always promoted diversity, but this year diversity has had a voice, diversity had ideas, and diversity had goals.

Woman and minorities have taken up the highest positions in the party.

At the Democratic convention, delegates learned that being in favor of the idea of protests is different from being in support of their goals.

This year diversity walked into the convention and started yelling inside its walls. The diversity could no longer be theoretical, and for some, that was not what they wanted to hear.

Sojka pounced on this moment. He demanded an apology from Chilcott. He claimed Chilcott and the others arguing with him did not understand what was in his heart. “We’ve been doing things that she has absolutely no freaking knowledge of,” said Sojka.

Chilcott responded, “we don’t get to decide what they want.”

I reached out to Sojka shortly after his comments to find out what they had “absolutely no freaking knowledge of.” He has not returned my request for comment.

Idaho Reports has also reached out to the Jordan campaign who also has not returned my request for comment.

Chilcott had little doubt what the performance meant. “There have been ongoing concerns voiced by communities of color, both locally and nationally, about how the Democratic Party expects their support without doing its best to address the issues faced by those communities,” Chilcott wrote Idaho Reports. “What I felt was happening was more performative allyship. If we will not boldly work to dismantle an abusive, racist system, what good are we as allies?”

Another delegate at the convention put it much more bluntly, looking across the floor to where Sojka had just demanded an apology. “We all need to check our privileges,” she said. “Especially the white men.”

 

Correction: A previous version of this story identified Bob Sojka as the head of the Twin Falls Democrats rather than the State Committeeman.

 

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With friends like these

By Seth Ogilvie, Idaho Reports

Last week, Republican lieutenant governor candidate Janice McGeachin made a post on Facebook. The post linked to an Idaho Politics Weekly story, and echoed a general Republican talking point about why Trump is popular: “He is keeping the promises he made to the voters…”

A few days later, the conversation went off the rails. A comment about white nationalism, a Bundy sympathizer, outrage from centrists and a candidate trying to keep everyone happy pulled the conversation into an ideological circus tent.

Thank you Bob

Bob Jackson posted “I’m proud to be white again!” to which McGeachin responded, “Thank you Bob!”

Jackson then responded back to Rep. McGeachin saying “Thank you Janice McGeachin, with your leadership we’ll take back this state!”

The first objection came from Robbie DeLeon: “Janice McGeachin Why should anyone who isn’t white vote for you after seeing these comments? If you want to represent our state you need to represent everyone, not just white conservatives.”

McGeachin did not respond or thank DeLeon, but Jackson did saying “She clearly doesn’t need your vote OR ANY OF YOUR LIBERSL BUDDIES. THIS IS IDAHO! GO RED WAVE! #MAGA or #GTFO.

The thread played out like this for almost 24 hours. Idaho Reports then contacted McGeachin, asking “Does Janice McGeachin support the sentiment ‘I’m proud to be white again?’”

“I hope the voters in Idaho know that I believe that our country should celebrate diversity,” McGeachin told Idaho Reports in an email. “My ‘thank you’ was in response to his support of Trump and my campaigns.”

McGeachin then posted a video from Eric Parker. Parker is best known for his involvement in the Bundy ranch standoff. The video compares the 1st and 2nd Amendments, and encourages people to be as disciplined with their words as they are with their firearms, stating “Stop shooting the people around you and start shooting the target.”

The video can still be found on Parker’s Facebook page.

Later Monday afternoon McGeachin deleted all the posts and the video and replaced it with this statement:

Statement McGeachin

Idaho Reports reached out to Jackson and received this statement shortly after the thread was deleted. We’ve copied and pasted it without editing. Warning: There is profanity.

“I’m so mad I’m shakin. She posts about why Trump is getting support and I thank her, she thanks me, then all hell brakes lose. I ask sone of my millitia buddies to push back on the hate I was getting then next thing u know bitch tells me to watch myself and I’m getting beat up by Eric Parker himself for saying things he says all the time. Check FB him and me are/were friends. Now his goons are telling me I’m not wrong, just whatch where I post. Anyway it looks like its over because the bitch deleted my post and put me in FB jail so I can’t post comments to her stuff. McGeachin has no integrity. Can’t support the second while wiping your feet on the first or something like that.”

Idaho Reports cannot verify several of the claims Jackson makes in this statement. We reached out to McGeachin about Jackson’s comments and she declined to comment.

Below is the entire thread for context:

 

 

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