As last-minute pleas for clemency continued to pour into Idaho's state Capitol this week in advance of the state's first execution since 1994, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter wasn't there – he was at a posh resort in Maui to speak about presidential politics, leaving Lt. Gov. Brad Little in charge.
Little has been Idaho's acting governor from Sunday, when Otter left for Hawaii, until Thursday, when Otter is planning to return to Boise, leaving the California Independent Voter Project's “Business and Leader Exchange” a day early to make it back for the Friday execution. During that time, condemned killer Paul Ezra Rhoades had two bids for a stay of execution rejected by the U.S. District Court in Boise and filed an appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals; state attorneys filed their response to that appeal today.
Where was Otter, who could commute the sentence? As the guest of the California group, he and First Lady Lori Otter flew to Hawaii for the group's conference at the Fairmont Kea Lani Resort, a beachfront spread with three swimming pools, a 140-foot water slide and an array of luxury amenities.
Little, who says he's “really uncomfortable with capital punishment, just because of the very nature of it,” but has come to support it after much “soul searching,” says as acting governor, he wouldn't reverse Otter's stand, which has been to deny clemency for Rhoades. Little said he hasn't even read the letters and emails that continued to come in to the Capitol regarding the execution this week, leaving them instead for Otter on his return. “I guess I could go ask for 'em if I wanted to, but I have chosen not to do that,” Little said. He said he agrees with Otter's stance in this case. “I don't think anybody's arguing that Paul Ezra Rhoades is anywhere close to innocent.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.