Who lost the most on Thursday? District 1 constituents.
In the hours after Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, was stripped of her legislative committee assignments, some Idaho conservatives are unhappy with the move.
Scott lost her committee assignments after being accused of publicly saying women lawmakers get leadership positions only if they “spread their legs.” (Read more, via Betsy Russell of the Spokesman-Review, and Kimberlee Kruesi of the Associated Press.) And regardless of whether people blame Scott or House leadership, District 1 constituents has one fewer voice in legislative committees to represent their interests.
Some of those constituents are criticizing House Speaker Scott Bedke, not Rep. Scott.
“With the action of Speaker Bedke today 55,000 citizens have lost their voice in the Idaho legislature,” wrote Victoria Zeischegg, president of Bonner County Republican Women Inc., in an e-mail to House members on Thursday afternoon. “I would like to know by what authority Speaker Bedke has the right to remove Rep. Heather Scott from all of her committees, and why has he not explained his actions?”
“We are a representative government and it sickens me to think you need to be reminded of that,” Zeischegg continued. “I strongly urge you to return Heather to her committees and give us our voice back.”
“I can barely contain my fury at the actions off Speaker Bedke today,” wrote Anita Aurit in another e-mail to legislators. “An entire district of voters have lost their voice in the Idaho legislature and I would like to knew, in detail, the reasoning and more importantly, the facts regarding this travesty.”
“Every citizen in Heather Scott’s district is due a detailed and complete explanation of the reason for this action, facts, not lies, innuendos or the less than reliable “reporting” of the not the mainstream press),” Aurit wrote.
Though Scott will no longer serve on legislative committees, she is still able to vote and debate on the House floor, as well as propose legislation.
Whether or not committee chairmen will hear that legislation, however, is another issue — particularly the women who were the targets of Scott’s alleged remarks.
As to whether Bedke has the power to do this: He does.
Scott, Zeischegg and Aurit couldn’t be reached for comment. (We’ll update if that changes.)
North Idaho conservatives weren’t alone in their displeasure. In an e-mail sent to all House members, Maria Nate of Rexburg blasted lawmakers for not standing up for Scott on the House floor.
“I am disgusted and dismayed at the removal of Heather Scott from her committee assignments. I am even more dismayed that only one person rose to object to such a power move by Speaker Bedke,” Nate wrote in an e-mail sent just before noon on Thursday. “Apparently in the Idaho Legislature it is ok to commit adultery but it is not ok to talk about it. Time to drain the swamp.”
Maria Nate is the wife of Rep. Ron Nate, R-Rexburg. On Thursday, Rep. Nate attempted to object to Scott being taken off her three committees. When contacted for comment by Idaho Reports, Maria Nate said she had nothing to add to her e-mail remarks.
In late 2016, Reps. Nate and Scott launched growingfreedomidaho.com, which features a conservative legislative agenda and links to e-mail committee members. As bills get introduced, the site will offer conservative policy and impact analysis.
In a statement posted to Facebook on Thursday afternoon, Scott theorized the timing of the scandal breaking in the news was no accident.
“It is probably no coincidence that the latest ‘stir’ from within the catacombs of ‘leadership’ comes on the heels of the recently published freedom website helping citizens to keep better tabs on legislation and legislators called www.growingfreedomforidaho.com,” she wrote.
Scott’s various controversies are well-documented, and other conservative Republicans have told reporters they disagree with her tactics and actions. “We’re here to solve problems, not create problems,” said Rep. Eric Redman R-Athol, in an interview with Betsy Russell of the Spokesman-Review. “A lot of areas we agree on, but you’re still part of the body. I think that’s very important. We can express our disagreements but not be belligerent.”
House Speaker Scott Bedke told Russell he wouldn’t comment on Thursday’s actions, other than to say it was the most difficult decision he’s made so far as speaker.