Former Idaho Republican Party Chairman Trent Clark, who is director of government and public affairs for Monsanto Corp., is the new chairman of the board of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, a major business lobbying group. Clark is known in journalism circles for making a controversial comment in an interview with an S-R reporter, then claiming it wasn’t what he said and suing the paper for libel. Clark lost, repeatedly, including when he appealed the case to the Idaho Supreme Court.
Here’s his comment: “You probably cannot find an African-American male on the street in Washington, D.C. that hasn’t been arrested or convicted of a crime.” After a public outcry over the comment, including concerns from members of his own party, Clark claimed in a written statement that he’d actually told the newspaper, “You probably cannot find an African-American male on the street in Washington, D.C. who that (sic) doesn’t have friends who have been arrested or convicted of a crime.” The courts didn’t buy it; the Idaho Supreme Court’s ruling was unanimous. Clark’s repeated appeals kept the case alive for six years past the original Feb. 2, 2001 article; the Supreme Court rejected the final appeal in May of 2007.
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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