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Posts tagged: Lawerence Denney

Denney accuses Ysursa of conflict of interest for endorsing one of Denney’s rivals

After a Statehouse press conference yesterday in which 1st District Congressman Raul Labrador and state Treasurer Ron Crane formally endorsed Lawerence Denney in the four-way GOP contest for Idaho Secretary of State, Denney sent out a news release questioning the ethics of current Secretary of State Ben Ysursa for endorsing one of his rivals, Phil McGrane. “I was surprised to see our current Secretary of State endorse somebody in this race,” Denney said. “Because of the appearance of conflict of interest, as Secretary of State, I will not serve as anyone’s campaign chairman for any campaign over which I serve as the chief election judge. Doing otherwise sends the wrong message for the chief elections officer.”

Idaho Statesman reporter Dan Popkey reports today that Ysursa said he doesn’t count ballots and isn’t playing favorites. “Within these walls, it’s all by the books,” he said. “I think I’ve proven that over 40 years. People who know me know that the fact that I think Mr. McGrane is the best candidate and should be nominated will have nothing to do with the duties of my office.”

Popkey also reported that when Ysursa ran for the post in 2002 after years as chief deputy to then-Secretary of State Pete Cenarrusa, Cenarrusa endorsed Ysursa in the primary, in which he defeated GOP rival Evan Frasure. Frasure is running again this year, as is former Sen. Mitch Toryanski, R-Boise; the winner of the four-way GOP primary will face Rep. Holli Woodings, D-Boise, in November.

Denney touts backing from Labrador, Ron Crane

Lawerence Denney, candidate for Idaho Secretary of State, has scheduled a press conference for Tuesday to announce endorsements from 1st District GOP Congressman Raul Labrador and state Treasurer Ron Crane. Labrador is one of Denney’s three campaign co-chairs, he announced when he filed to run for the office on March 12. Denney also has posted endorsements on his website from 11 other state lawmakers, including House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star.

Denney is one of four candidates vying for the GOP nomination for Secretary of State; the others are chief deputy Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane, former Sen. Mitch Toryanski, R-Boise, and former Sen. Evan Frasure, R-Pocatello.

Of Duck Dynasty, Denney, and the Idaho Secretary of State’s race…

Several stars from the A&E program “Duck Dynasty” appeared at a fundraiser for Idaho GOP secretary of state candidate Lawerence Denney on Saturday night, and Idaho Statesman reporter John Sowell reports that “several thousand” people attended the event at the Idaho Center, which seats 12,279. You can read Sowell’s full report here; he reports that Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson, 67, clutching a Bible, told the crowd, “When this goes, your freedom goes with it.”

Close to two dozen “Add the Words” protesters protested outside; one counter-protester held a small sign saying, “Phil for President.” Sowell reports that Denney appeared briefly onstage to introduce several Robertson family members, and said he’d known the family for many years; his daughter Stephanie works for their family business, Duck Commander, and Alan Roberts, a minister, married Stephanie and her husband Jason. Last year, Phil Robertson was temporarily suspended from the show after making anti-gay comments in an interview with GQ magazine.

Meanwhile, Holli Woodings, a Democrat who also is running for Idaho secretary of state, sent out an email noting that Denney sold tickets for the campaign event for $47. “Why is that important? Because Idaho’s sunshine law requires candidates to report every contribution over $50,” she wrote. “Contributions under $50 don’t have to be disclosed. That means no one who attends this event will appear on Denney’s sunshine report. So why would someone who wants to be secretary of state – the very person in charge of upholding our sunshine laws – try to skirt the system?” Woodings said, “Denney isn’t technically breaking the law, but let’s face it – he’s definitely violating the spirit of the law.” She invited her supporters to send her $51 contributions – exceeding the reporting limit and requiring that the donations be disclosed.

Denney is in a four-way GOP race for secretary of state, an open post since longtime GOP Secretary of State Ben Ysursa is retiring; the other Republicans running are former state Sen. Evan Frasure, chief deputy Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane, and former Sen. Mitch Toryanski. Woodings is unopposed on the Democratic ticket; the primary is May 20.

Election brings up past conflict involving former Speaker Denney

Former House Speaker Lawerence Denney, who is running for Secretary of State, was involved in a conflict that sparked accusations of theft, private work done on state time, political retribution, state contracts that benefited his family, undeclared conflict of interest and more – all involving the former employment of his wife, Donna, by a state agency, Idaho Statesman reporter Cynthia Sewell reported in a Sunday story. To make the tale even more interesting, Donna Denney’s former boss was Kim Toryanski, wife of Denney’s GOP Secretary of State rival Mitch Toryanski, and former head of the Idaho Commission on Aging.

Sewell reports that Kim Toryanski told an Idaho State Police detective investigating the case that she resigned her position and went to work for another state agency due to “political pressures, particularly from Speaker Denney and his political allies.” The Denneys referred Sewell’s questions to their attorney, David Leroy.

Catching up on a holiday week’s news…

There’s not usually a lot of news over the holidays, but there was some last week while I was gone. Here’s a quick roundup:

Wolf derby: A federal judge on Friday declined to block a “Predator Derby” scheduled over the weekend in Salmon targeting wolves and coyotes, ruling organizers weren’t required to get a special permit from the U.S. Forest Service. Idaho For Wildlife, the sponsoring group, reported that by the end of the derby yesterday, no wolves had been shot but 21 coyotes were.

Idaho airman killed: Sandpoint Air Force Capt. David Lyon died Friday in Kabul, Afghanistan, after his vehicle was hit by an explosion. Lyon, 28, was about a month away from completing his year-long deployment to Afghanistan; he was an Air Force Academy graduate, a five-year Air Force veteran, and a renowned track star at Sandpoint High School. There’s a full report here at

Gay marriage: Four couples challenging Idaho’s same-sex marriage ban asked a federal judge on Thursday to block the state from intervening in their lawsuit, which was filed against Idaho Gov. Butch Otter and Ada County Clerk Chris Rich. Attorney General Lawrence Wasden responded, “I have an obligation to defend the Constitution and the statutes of Idaho, and that's what we intend to do.” The Idaho case is developing as judges in New Mexico, Ohio and Utah have ruled in favor of same-sex marriage.

Megaload rolls: A giant shipment of oil field equipment bound for the Canadian oil sands drew spectators and a handful of protesters as it moved into Idaho, spending a week in the Marsing area due to weather delays. It traveled nearly 100 miles over the weekend, moving only at night, but will take a break over the New Year’s holiday.

Bowl loss: Oregon State beat Boise State 38-23 in the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve, snapping a five-game losing streak for OSU. BSU played without starting quarterback Joe Southwick, who was sent home for a team rules violation, but then went public, saying he was wrongly accused of urinating off a hotel balcony and had taken a lie detector test to prove his innocence. It was an odd end to a tumultuous season for the Broncos, who just lost prized coach Chris Petersen to the University of Washington; new coach Bryan Harsin takes over after the bowl loss.

Duck politics: The A&E Network ended its suspension of Duck Dynasty reality show star Phil Robertson for his controversial remarks about homosexuality and race in a magazine interview, after the rest of the cast refused to go forward without him. Former Idaho House Speaker Lawerence Denney, who is running for Idaho Secretary of State, announced that his March fundraiser with Robertson will proceed as planned, saying, “Our family proudly stands in support of the Robertson family in its modeling and expression of our Christian family values and heritage.”

Endorsement wars: ‘Pete liked and trusted Mitch’

It’s become something of an endorsement war this week among the GOP candidates for Idaho Secretary of State, with Mitch Toryanski introducing Freda Cenarrusa, widow of longtime Secretary of State Pete Cenarrusa, as his campaign chair; Evan Frasure touting endorsements from an array of lawmakers topped by Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis; and Lawerence Denney naming three honorary campaign chairmen: 1st District Rep. Raul Labrador for the Treasure Valley; former Sen. Don Burtenshaw, R-Terreton, for eastern Idaho; and GOP icon Ruthie Johnson for North Idaho.

Freda Cenarrusa joined Toryanski for his formal campaign kickoff in the state Capitol on Thursday. “Pete liked and trusted Mitch. And I like and trust Mitch Toryanski,” she said. “Mitch is what Pete and I like in a leader.” Mrs. Cenarrusa cited Toryanski’s commitment to family, his distinguished military career, and his government and business experience. “I respect Mitch Toryanski’s stellar record as a leader, a commander of troops, a father and a husband,” she said.

Frasure, who held his formal campaign kickoff the same day in Pocatello, named backers including Sens. Fred Martin, R-Boise; John Tippets, R-Montpelier; McCammon Republicans Sen. Jim Guthrie and Rep. Kelly Packer; and three Bannock County commissioners, and the mayors of Pocatello and Chubbuck. He’s a former longtime state senator who is making his second run for Secretary of State after losing to Ben Ysursa in 2002; he also served on the Idaho Citizens Redistricting Commission. Now a high school government teacher, Frasure was a real estate broker for 30 years.

Denney, launched his campaign Oct. 24 – well before current Secretary of State Ben Ysursa announced he wouldn’t seek another term – said of his new honorary campaign chairs, “These close friends are well-respected politically, have great connections and are tremendous, hard-working people that anyone would be proud to have on their campaigns.”

Chief Deputy Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane, who launched his campaign Dec. 10 with the backing of an array of county clerks from across the state, also is in the race. Still considering it are Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene, and Rep. Holli High Woodings, D-Boise.

Idaho campaigns feature stars: Christie for Otter, ‘Duck Dynasty’ for Denney

Sure, Butch Otter is bringing in big GOP political star Chris Christie for a fundraiser tonight at the Coeur d'Alene Resort, but former House Speaker Lawerence Denney has stars of his own headed to Idaho for a fundraiser for his campaign for Secretary of State: The main characters from the popular “Duck Dynasty” reality show on A&E, who'll talk family values in a stadium show in March and visit with Denney supporters at a VIP reception. “They’re good family-values people and we’re happy to have ‘em coming,” Denney said.

Pulling in out-of-state star power to boost a campaign isn’t uncommon, notes Boise State University emeritus professor Jim Weatherby, especially for a top office like governor. He pointed to presidential candidate Mike Huckabee’s campaigning with movie star Chuck Norris, and declaring that he was “Chuck Norris approved.” Christie “certainly has star power,” Weatherby said. “He’s an excellent speaker and I suspect will draw a big crowd.”

As for Denney’s race, Weatherby said, “It’s a little hard sometimes to get a lot of excitement for some of the elected positions like Secretary of State.”

Denney said he put in an offer to get the famously bearded TV stars to come out, and was surprised when they accepted. He’ll pay them a flat fee, and they’ll present “Happy, Happy, Happy: An Evening with A&E’s Duck Dynasty” at the Idaho Center in Nampa on March 29, 2014. You can read my full story here at

Denney killed bill to end retirement boosts, now could benefit…

Former Idaho House Speaker Lawerence Denney, whose pension benefits would soar by more than seven times if he wins his bid for Secretary of State, personally killed legislation last year designed to end the costly special treatment for longtime legislators who land high-paying government posts at the end of their careers. “He’s the one that made sure the bill died,” said former state Rep. Dennis Lake, R-Blackfoot, the bill’s sponsor.

Idaho legislators, who are currently paid $16,438 a year, qualify for only modest pension benefits under the Public Employee Retirement System of Idaho, or PERSI, because of their low salaries; based on his nine terms in the House, Denney, 65, would get about $500 a month per life. But a quirk in the law means that if Denney were to serve one four-year term as Secretary of State after his years of legislative service, his benefit would rise to more than $3,600 per month. That’s because PERSI sets retirement pensions based on the highest-paid 42 months of state employment. The current salary for the Idaho Secretary of State, by law, is $99,450 a year.

Denney acknowledged that he directed a committee chairman to scuttle Lake’s bill in 2012. “We have a citizens commission that sets legislative compensation,” he said. “And they are the ones that should be dealing with all of that, in my opinion. … That was passed to take the politics out of it, and if we get involved, we’re putting the politics back into it.” However, the chair of that citizens commission, Boise attorney Debora Kristensen, said the commission never was asked to look at the issue – and she doesn’t think it’s within their purview.

Lake, who retired from the Legislature after the 2012 session, said he still thinks Idaho should eliminate the pension perk for former lawmakers. “It’s absolutely wrong for a legislator to be able to accumulate time as a legislator, and then collect their pension as a high-paid executive,” he said. “That’s wrong.” You can read my full story here at

If Denney wins Secty of State race, his state pension would increase by more than 700%

If former House Speaker Lawerence Denney were to serve one four-year term as Secretary of State after his many years of legislative service, his state retirement pension, for life, would rise from roughly $500 a month to more than $3,600 a month. That’s because the Public Employee Retirement System of Idaho sets retirement pensions based on the highest-paid 42 months of state employment – and state legislators, who now make a little over $16,000 a year, who move up to higher-paid, year-round jobs at the end of their careers can count all those lower-paid years of legislative service for retirement. The current salary for the Idaho Secretary of State, by law, is $99,450 a year.

Then-Rep. Dennis Lake, R-Blackfoot, proposed legislation in 2012 to end that pension-boosting perk for state legislators, saying legislative service should be counted only as part-time employment in retirement calculations, but it was blocked by then-Speaker Denney. Lake retired from the Legislature after that year’s session.

Denney, 65, wouldn’t be the first to take advantage of the perk, which has boosted the retirement of every longtime state lawmaker who ended his or her career in a higher-paid, full-time state job. Denney’s announcement today, however, brings new attention to the perk; you can read my full story here at


Of website updates and campaign announcements…

Former House Speaker Lawerence Denney, now a GOP state representative from Midvale, is flying around the state today in a neighbor’s Cessna 182, making stops to announce his run for Idaho Secretary of State in Idaho Falls, Boise and Coeur d’Alene. But he sent no advance notice to the press of the announcement tour, nor did he post notice of it on his campaign website or the Idaho Republican Party’s online events calendar. In fact, Denney’s campaign website still says he’s Speaker of the House, a position from which he was ousted by his own caucus in 2012, and the most recent news item posted on the site as of this afternoon, from October of 2012, urges a yes vote on Propositions 1, 2 and 3 in the November 2012 election – the election in which voters overwhelmingly rejected all three propositions, repealing state schools Superintendent Tom Luna’s “Students Come First” reform laws.

The Secretary of State is responsible for some of the most closely watched websites in Idaho – the sites on which candidacies and election results are announced, campaign finance reports are posted amid firm deadlines, and more. Asked about his qualifications for that aspect of the job, Denney said, “I can tell you that I don’t think the current secretary of state does that either. I think he has a staff that does, and certainly I’m not going to make wholesale changes in the staff.” He said the staff does a good job.

Denney said updates to his campaign website will be up “shortly.” He said he planned today’s announcement tour now because of the good weather. “We picked this day 10 days out, and we are very, very fortunate,” he said. “It’s a beautiful day.”

Moyle backing Denney’s statewide run, but not Fulcher’s…

House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, who was among those attending former House Speaker Lawerence Denney’s statehouse campaign kickoff today for his bid for Idaho secretary of state, said he’s backing Denney in his run. “It’s my understanding that (current GOP Secretary of State Ben) Ysursa wasn’t going to run before we started,” Moyle said. “I’m with Denney.”

“I think that Ben got sideways with the party on some issues,” he said, but added, “I like the fact that Ben speaks his mind and he does what’s right.”

Asked about another recently announced statewide candidate – Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, who’s exploring a primary challenge to Gov. Butch Otter – Moyle said he’s not on board with that one. “I wouldn’t support Fulcher, no,” he said. “Gov. Otter has said he’s running again. Gov. Otter has done a good job. Ben has said he’s not running again, or implied that. I’m with Butch.”

Denney: ‘I think Secretary of State is a fit for me’

About 25 backers, including a half-dozen GOP state lawmakers, joined former House Speaker Lawerence Denney in the Statehouse rotunda today to launch his campaign for Idaho Secretary of State. Flanked by family members including wife Donna, Denney said, “Donna and I have been prayerfully considering this move for quite some time … and we have decided that now is the time.” Denney said if elected, he’d work to stop the state Land Board from acquiring commercial property as part of the state endowment; address unspecified problems in Idaho elections that he said he’s heard about from people around the state; and oppose any move to a vote-by-mail system in Idaho. “Sure vote by mail is easier and it’s cheaper, but we cannot protect the integrity of the ballot,” he said.

Backers muttered “that’s right” and “Amen” as Denney spoke; they included a black-clad Tony Snesko of Idaho Open Carry, who wore a gun on his hip in a tooled leather holster; former state Rep. Bob Forrey; and current state lawmakers Judy Boyle, Russ Fulcher, Mike Moyle, Joe Palmer, Jason Monks, Mark Patterson and Paul Shepherd.

Fulcher said, “Lawerence is a personal friend. We always served together pretty close when he was speaker; I just think the world of him.” Fulcher is currently exploring a primary challenge to GOP Gov. Butch Otter.

Denney said before he began exploring a run, he met with current GOP Secretary of State Ben Ysursa and asked him “whether or not he was running, because I had heard that he was not, and his answer was that he was undecided, and I think he’s still undecided.”

Asked why he picked this position to run for, Denney, a farmer and ninth-term state lawmaker, said, “I think Secretary of State is a fit for me, and certainly, the rumor that was out there that the current secretary was not running weighed in our decision, so we started traveling and checking out the possibilities there, and that’s why we decided to do it.” Denney said for now, Boyle is the head of his campaign.

Denney apparently on stealth announcement tour of candidacy for Secty of State

In one of the weirdest launches of a statewide political campaign recently, former Idaho House Speaker Lawerence Denney apparently is going around the state announcing his candidacy for Secretary of State today - but he hasn't announced his appearances, informed the press or even posted anything on his campaign website, on which the info as of last night was so out of date it still said he's speaker of the House, a post he lost a year ago when he was ousted by current Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley. Former state Rep. Janice McGeachin posted on her Facebook page yesterday that Denney would be announcing in Idaho Falls this morning, and now there are photos floating around on Twitter showing that he did so. Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, called the AP yesterday and said Denney would announce at the Capitol today at 12:30. He didn't return calls from Eye on Boise yesterday inquiring about the announcement schedule.

Denney has been mulling a challenge of GOP Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, who hasn't yet decided if he'll seek another term; the AP reports that several other GOP candidates also are considering the race. Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

Report: Feds spent $392M on land management in Idaho in 2012

Here's a news item from the AP and Idaho Statesman: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Three federal agencies spent $392 million in 2012 to manage 32 million acres of Idaho public land, according to a report illustrating costs Idaho would face by assuming oversight of a substantial swath of the territory. The Idaho Statesman ( ) reports the report was requested by U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson from the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. State lawmakers are discussing a proposal to take over 16.4 million acres of federal land. Among them, Rep. Lawerence Denney says Idaho can manage it better than the federal government. After seeing Simpson's report, Denney concedes such a move could initially be difficult, but contends Idaho would eventually profit from increased logging and grazing. Environmental groups say Denney's revenue-boosting expectations are wildly exaggerated.

Catching up: From Denney eyeing higher office to extension of county payments…

Catching up on some of the news from while I was gone over the past week:

DENNEY EYES HIGHER OFFICE:  Former Idaho House Speaker Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, filed initial paperwork to run for Idaho Secretary of State, an office long held by incumbent Ben Ysursa, a Republican; you can read an AP report here on Denney’s move. Ysursa hasn’t said yet whether he’ll be seeking re-election; in an email to Idaho Statesman columnist Dan Popkey, he said, “I intend to make my future plans known within the next few weeks. Until then I really have no comment.”

STATE SURPLUS BIGGER THAN REPORTED? Former state chief economist Mike Ferguson has analyzed state revenues and concluded that in an apples-to-apples comparison, Idaho’s surplus is actually bigger than has been reported. At the close of fiscal year 2013 on June 30, the state’s general fund had an ending balance of $165.3 million, $105.3 million higher than expected at the end of the 2013 legislative session. After transfers to reserve accounts and taking into account law changes, Ferguson concludes, “The current DFM General Fund revenue forecast for FY 2014, at 2.1% growth over FY 2013 revenue, appears to be unduly pessimistic. At 3.1% revenue growth the ongoing General Fund surplus estimate would be $74.1 million, and at 4.1% revenue growth the ongoing surplus estimate would be $111.6 million.” You can read his full analysis here.

ONE INSURER WITHDRAWS: The only for-profit insurer scheduled to offer plans on Idaho’s exchange withdrew on Sept. 26; with Altius' exit, Idaho's remaining insurers will offer 61 plans for individuals, 55 small group health plans for small business, 13 individual dental plans and 17 small group dental plans. You can read about that move here.

COUNTY PAYMENTS EXTENDED: A one-year extension of the county payments under the Secure Rural Schools Act, the remainder of the Craig-Wyden law that has been offsetting millions lost to rural counties and school districts since federal timber harvests fell, cleared Congress and headed to the president’s desk – tucked into a bill about helium. “Passage of the Helium Stewardship Act is a victory for the entire state of Idaho,” said Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo; rural schools and counties would get $270 million under the bill. “This fix does not change the need for a long-term solution that provides a consistent mechanism for the federal government to meet its obligation to rural communities accommodating federal lands, and I will continue to work with Senator Risch and all my colleagues to achieve this objective,” Crapo said; you can read his full statement here

Denney will be House Resources chairman

Former House Speaker Lawerence Denney is the new chairman of the House Resources Committee. “I told Scott that I want to do anything that I can to help him be successful, and if a chairmanship was what he wanted, I'd do that,” Denney said. New Speaker Scott Bedke, who ousted Denney as speaker on Wednesday night, said yesterday that he wanted a “substantive” role for Denney, saying with the high number of freshman lawmakers in the House this year, “I feel very strongly that we don't have the luxury to not use our experienced legislators, including Rep. Denney.”

Denney, shown here talking with new House GOP Caucus Chair John Vander Woude, R-Meridian, said he considers the Resources Committee among the most important in a state like Idaho, but doesn't yet have specific issues he wants to address there. “It's still pretty new for me,” he said.

Denney said, “I think the founding fathers made this process a great process by having this organizational session a month before we started the regular session, to give us all a month to acclimate ourselves.” This year's session will include “some very substantive issues that we need to deal with, and with all the new people, I think it's going to start very slowly … while they're all learning the ropes,” he said.

For now, he said, leaving the House floor to head downstairs, “I've got to get down there and get trained to be a chairman.”

The Idaho House is back in session this morning to continue its organizational session; it just briefly convened before recessing. “We're almost done, trust us - we're almost there,” Majority Leader Mike Moyle told the House. “Stay close,” he said. “We'll recess for a few minutes.”

House GOP leaders are hoping to finalize committee assignments by 11 a.m. or so.

House applauds Denney, sets to work on new order

Before the House recessed subject to the call of the chair, House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, stood and said, “I'd like to take this opportunity on behalf of myself and my caucus to offer my respects and thanks to the former speaker for the service he gave the House of Representatives.” The House then gave outgoing Speaker Lawerence Denney a standing ovation; he stayed in his seat, emotions playing on his face.

New Speaker Scott Bedke said he hopes to wrap up the business of committee assignments and chairmanships today, but it could go into tomorrow.

New lawmakers welcomed to Capitol with energy bars, bathroom warnings

Idaho newest state legislators are on the job today, attending the first day of orientation for the record-tying 2013 Legislature's freshman class of 44. As they arrived for an opening lunch, many were greeted in the Capitol basement hallway by Rep. Christy Perry, R-Nampa, who's among three candidates vying for House majority caucus chair. In a large basket, she had energy bars for each new representative, from either party, along with a cheery welcome note saying, “A little something to help you keep your energy up this week.” Here, at right, Perry presents one to new Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d'Alene, telling him, “You're going to need plenty of energy.”

Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, and House Speaker Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, welcomed the group at a lunch in the Capitol dining room, to kick off an afternoon devoted to sessions on legislative process, staff, the state Capitol and administrative procedures; the orientation continues Tuesday and Wednesday. Hill told the large group, “Can you believe it - you're here? And you have this kind of a responsibility?” He said, “It's really an honor for us to be here. With that honor comes a lot of responsibility as well.” Hill asked the new lawmakers to each introduce themselves. “I feel like the first day of school - excited,” said new Sen. Fred Martin, R-Boise. “I even got a new tie.” New Rep. Paul Romrell, R-St. Anthony, said, “As the pro-tem said, just to walk into this place - it gives you chills.”

Denney, who's fighting to keep the speaker's post in a challenge from House Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, told the group he wanted to “welcome you all to the goldfish bowl,” saying, “Everything you do here is going to be observed.” Said Denney, “I can tell you that there's a lot of opportunity to do things that really don't bring honor to you.”

Referencing the frequent evening receptions sponsored by lobbyists and interest groups, Denney said there's plenty of opportunity to imbibe too much. “If you drink too much, I'm going to give each and every one of you my cell phone number, because I will come and take you home,” Denney promised. He also advised new lawmakers to use the restroom at every opportunity during sessions, “Because you never can tell when there might be a call of the House, and the doors are locked and you can't get out.”

Amid GOP House leadership fight, campaign cash flowed

As Election Day approached, Moscow Republican House candidate Cindy Agidius noticed her campaign account filling with money from prominent GOP lawmakers, from districts hundreds of miles from hers in northcentral Idaho, AP reporter John Miller reports. House Speaker Lawerence Denney of Midvale chipped in $1,000 from an internal GOP account, while Majority Leader Mike Moyle of Star gave $500. Cash from Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke of Oakley and Rep. Christy Perry of Nampa also went into her coffers.

“It was always interesting to see where the money came from, especially since I didn't ask for it,” Agidius, who won Nov. 6 by just 123 votes, told the AP. More than a show of support for a partisan colleague in a tight race, however, this election cash infusion for Agidius and dozens of other Republican candidates across Idaho underscores the tense internal House GOP fight now being waged for leadership posts; click below for Miller's full report previewing Wednesday's hotly contested House GOP leadership elections.

Bedke goes public, announces he’s running for House speaker

The Twin Falls Times-News reports today that House Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, has publicly announced his run for Speaker of the House, taking on current Speaker Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale. “It's time for a change,” Bedke told the newspaper. Leadership elections will take place at closed-door party caucuses Dec. 5, on the even of the 2013 Legislature's organizational session Dec. 6. Last week, Denney told the Idaho Statesman that he planned to “aggressively” campaign to keep his leadership post. You can read the Times-News' full report here from reporter Melissa Davlin.

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About this blog

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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