As of Tuesday, August 5, 2014
When Cecil Andrus was governor, he stopped his “Capitol for a Day” trips during campaign season. Why? It was unethical to campaign on the public dime.
Columnist Chris Carlson did a rough calculation and figures that Gov. Otter’s sham “business trips” for Capitol-for-a-Day probably cost us $50,000 a whack. Carlson makes the following point: “No matter how one slices it, or rationalizes it, to continue Capital for a Day in an election year after your opponent is selected is to have the taxpayers underwriting a campaign-like endeavor. It’s a clear ‘conflict of interest’ and a clear illegal contribution to the governor’s re-election effort by the taxpayer. “
I doubt anyone is shocked to hear that Otter treats our state treasury like his personal campaign war chest. That lack of shock should trouble the governor. It means that Idahoans have identified the main problem that plagues Idaho: bad elected leadership.
Idaho can’t hope to regain solid fiscal footing until we kick out the elected leaders who spend public money to build personal and political fortunes. Otter is just the top dog in a system that rewards cronies and special interests. He leads a system that leaves regular people to fend for themselves. He leads top elected officials who treat our tax dollars like they just won it at the blackjack table:
• Look at Secretary of State candidate, Lawerence Denney’s, spending spree on a private lawyer who will tell him what he wants to hear. He’s spent about $42,000 on his obsession with selling off Idaho’s public lands.
• Look at Schools Chief Tom Luna’s multi-year, multi-million dollar WiFi contract to an out-of-state campaign contributor. Interestingly, the Republican nominee to replace Luna looks to be cut from the same cloth. Luna tells folks that she will continue his eight years of “work.”
• Look at Treasurer Ron Crane’s loss of at least $10 million in risky investments of state dollars. Then look at how he spent our money on limousine rides, state gas cards for personal errands, a nonprofit company he started. Crane’s latest defense is to imply that losing $10 million really isn’t all that much.
• Look at Otter some more for not investigating his major campaign contributor Corrections Corporation of America—even after they admitted to overbilling the state for thousands of staff hours in just one year. (And, he had promised to us that he would investigate them).
• Take another look at Otter’s Department of Administration that hit us with a surprise multi-million dollar bill this year because the administration improperly awarded contracts.
These are highlights of a few things we know about. If there was just one or two, you could blame it on simple mismanagement or incompetence (hardly a glowing recommendation for third term there, Governor). But so much?
And, remember, Gov. Otter’s campaign team is made up of lobbyists for the exact groups who benefited from all this ... mismanagement. Truly! He has a lobbyist from every one of these guys running the campaign.
So, no one is shocked to hear that Butch Otter is campaigning on the public dime. No one is shocked that he has led Idaho’s family wages to last in the nation, and education investment to last in the nation. No one is shocked that we have the second highest percentage of minimum wage jobs in the nation.
After 40 years as a politician, the governor has given us a chance to get to know him pretty well. We have come to expect the worst, and he’s definitely delivering that.