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Eye On Boise

Of politics, an all-in challenger, and ‘rhetorical sloppiness’

Idaho Statesman political columnist Dan Popkey reports today that 2nd District Congressman Mike Simpson’s GOP challenger, Bryan Smith, is going “all in” on his challenge against the eight-term congressman, taking a sabbatical from his Idaho Falls law practice from this month through next May and donating, not loaning, $50,000 to kick-start his campaign; you can read Popkey’s full report here. Popkey also notes some “rhetorical sloppiness” on Smith’s part, however, including Smith’s much-repeated claim that Simpson was “one of only three Republicans who voted in favor of funding ACORN with your tax dollars.”

Actually, Popkey notes, the group that went out of business in 2010 after a YouTube video in 2009 showed employees advising clients how to hide prostitution and not pay taxes was the target of a de-funding bill of which Simpson was an original co-sponsor in September 2009, after which Simpson authored his own ban on funding for ACORN in his appropriations subcommittee; in all, Simpson voted 28 times against funding the group.

“Smith, however, has cherry-picked a symbolic House vote on a June 2011 amendment brought by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, to bar spending on more than 100 groups,” Popkey writes. “King said during floor debate he could not provide information on why some groups were on his list, prompting Simpson to join 165 Democrats in voting no. Simpson’s aim was not to fund the already-defunct ACORN, but to protest King’s lack of preparation. An hour later, Simpson voted for the Homeland Security spending bill on final passage, including the successful amendment.“

Popkey reports that Smith wouldn’t talk to him about this, but his campaign manager, Carrie Brown, sent this statement: “No amount of spinning by Congressman Simpson or his allies in the liberal press can change that Simpson was one of only three Republicans to oppose defunding ACORN and similar groups.” Wrote Popkey, “Idahoans know Mike Simpson too well to buy such distortion. For Smith to give Simpson a real fight, he may wish to take more time vetting his talking points before most primary voters start paying close attention.”

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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