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KKK mailing targeted several Idaho lawmakers, including Idaho’s only black legislator

The Idaho Statesman reports that Rep. Cherie Buckner-Webb, D-Boise, the state's only black lawmaker and a current candidate for the state Senate, received an application in the mail to join the Ku Klux Klan, hand-addressed to her and postmarked in Great Falls, Mont. “It conjured up a lot of things for me that weren’t very comfortable — not fear, but sometimes we get to thinking things are settled,” Buckner-Webb told the Statesman; you can read the Statesman's full story here. Meanwhile, the Moscow-Pullman Daily News reported that three other Idaho lawmakers also received similar mailings; click below for their report. Sen. Steve Vick, R-Dalton Gardens, said he also received the letter. “I was offended and shocked as well (we have an adopted daughter from India),” he said in an email. “But in this job we get a lot of offensive mail so I did what I do with the rest of it and threw it away.”


Legislators confused by KKK mailing
By Brandon Macz, Moscow-Pullman Daily News, Moscow, Idaho (MCT)


April 11—The Idaho Attorney General's Office is monitoring a number of reports from state legislators who received Ku Klux Klan literature in the mail this month, as the leader of the white supremacy group denies involvement.

“We are aware that members of the Legislature have received this letter,” said Bob Cooper, spokesman for the attorney general's office. “We're monitoring it. We've informed law enforcement.”

Cooper declined to disclose which law enforcement agencies have been notified about the KKK letters or how many legislators have received them.

The most notable has been District 19 Rep. Cherie Buckner-Webb, the only black lawmaker in the Legislature.

But others include District 6 Reps. Tom Trail and Shirley Ringo, and District 25 Rep. Wendy Jaquet. District 6 Sen. Dan Schmidt said it's possible he also received a mailing, but he tends to toss those that appear to be junk without reading it.

Trail appears to be the only Republican legislator to receive the literature, and he provided the Daily News with a copy.

Like Buckner-Webb's, the return address for Trail's mailing is a P.O. Box in Harrison, Ark., where the KKK is headquartered, with a Great Falls, Mont., postmark. The handwriting for Trail's home address is also of poor quality.

“It certainly doesn't seem like a mass mailing and only legislators so far are targeted,” said Trail. “Wendy and I are both retiring, but Shirley and Rep. Buckner-Webb are running for re-election. What the purpose is, who knows? No idea.”

Neither does Thomas Robb, national director of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, who said the newsletter — complete with a membership application — is easily available for reproduction from the group's website.

“That's a standard piece of literature that is duplicated quite regularly,” said Robb. “We have members do that, we have supporters do that. Sometimes we have people who aren't members or supporters that do that because they think it's funny. … It certainly was not officially coming from us. We don't have time to do that.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center lists 18 hate groups in Idaho, said Trail.

The mailing does cause people to think about Idaho's past issues with white supremacy groups, he said, such as Richard Butler's Aryan Nations in Hayden, which disbanded in 2000.

“It just dredges up those memories and problems that we've had in the past with these organizations that promote hate and bias and all that other kind of stuff,” Trail said.

Ringo said the mailing was disturbing, but it was hard to tell whether it was sent from a real hate group or just a hoax.

“I would be very disappointed if people took it seriously and tried to respond,” she said.

Cooper said reports of controversial mailings come and go and can include all types of elected officials. In the 1990s, he said county clerks were complaining about unwanted letters from constitutionalist groups.

“It tends to be more prevalent in difficult economic times. That's more of the kind of constitutionalist, tax protester lean sort of situation,” said Cooper. “Racism isn't really seasonal.”

Trail said if the mailing was intended to intimidate a cross-section of Idaho legislators, it will have the opposite effect.

“They're going to get mad,” he said. “The whole state is going to be on the alert for it. I think it's very positive. It continually keeps people alert of these organizations and the threat they pose.”

Brandon Macz can be reached at (208) 882-5561, ext. 238, or by email to bmacz@dnews.com.

___

(c)2012 the Moscow-Pullman Daily News (Moscow, Idaho)

Visit the Moscow-Pullman Daily News (Moscow, Idaho) at www.dnews.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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