As of Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Idahoans share a common set of values including fairness, hard work, ethical leadership and fiscal responsibility. Those values drive our decisions and help propel our state forward. All of that is worth considering now that Congressman Raul Labrador is running to be Idaho’s next governor.
As a state legislator, Representative Labrador was not known as a hard worker, but rather an obstructionist bent on derailing transportation infrastructure legislation and a host of other bills designed to improve economic fairness for all Idahoans. As a Congressman, his regressive policies helped put him on television and kept Idaho in a state of perpetual struggle since he left town for Washington, D.C.
His views on fairness for all are suspect at best. His comments about health insurance and his willingness to put more than 660,000 Idahoans at risk because they have pre-existing conditions is not only unfair, it’s inhumane. His unrelenting attitude toward those who disagree with him has resulted in reckless and poorly worded responses like “no one ever died because they didn’t have access to health care.” Comments like that bring negative national attention to him, and in turn, Idaho.
Then there’s the value of ethical leadership. Whether you agree with his politics or not, your tax dollars should not subsidize his campaign for governor. As a member of the U.S. Congress, Labrador makes $174,000 per year. That’s more than three times the median income in Idaho. Yes, we are bankrolling his run for higher office whether you know it or not.
Therefore, Raul Labrador should resign his seat immediately.
Over the next year and a half, he will continue to draw $477 dollars a day while he travels the state angling for votes. That’s not all. He’ll continue to benefit from the generous Federal Employee Retirement System - a retirement plan that only gets more lucrative the longer someone is in Congress. Plus, he’ll enjoy world-class health care benefits that a majority of Idahoans don’t have access to. Those life-saving healthcare benefits, by the way, wouldn’t go away if the American Health Care Act becomes law. Labrador voted to exempt himself from the legislation. In other words, he voted to give you health care that isn’t even good enough for himself or his family. Whether you consider that unethical or unfair or not, you should not have to foot the bill for his political future.
Labrador has shown over the years that he cares little about accountability. It’ll only get worse. He will continue to cast votes in Congress that benefit his election bid instead of doing what’s right for his 700,000 constituents. Furthermore, he’ll travel outside his legislative district to campaign instead of working full-time for the people of the First Congressional District who elected him.
Labrador claims to advocate for fiscal responsibility, yet, unless he resigns, he will be wasting your tax dollars while he campaigns for another office. This doesn’t sound fiscally responsible to me. This sounds more like a taxpayer fleecing that benefits him at your expense. That’s why Congressman Labrador should act responsibly and become “Candidate” Labrador. It’s time he resigned his seat with the U.S. House of Representatives and allow Idahoans to elect someone who will work for them full-time.
Red states like Georgia and blue states like Hawaii require politicians who run for higher office to resign their seats in order to campaign. The rationale is simple. They want lawmakers to concentrate on the offices they hold, not the ones they aspire to. Congressman Labrador should do the same instead of bilking taxpayers. There is nothing wrong with being ambitious. But taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for someone else’s aspirations.
Rep. Mat Erpelding (D-Boise) is the Democratic Minority Leader in the Idaho House of Representatives. He is currently serving his third term from District 19.