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Eye On Boise

Posts tagged: Walt Minnick

Labrador hires on Minnick’s former constituent services director

GOP Congressman-elect Raul Labrador has hired outgoing Democratic Rep. Walt Minnick's constituent services director, Lisa Anderson, to be his constituent services director. “Essentially she'll be performing the same job that she was doing for Rep. Minnick,” said Phil Hardy, spokesman for Labrador. “I know that his intention from the beginning was to hire the very best people who were interested in serving the 1st Congressional District, and Lisa was one of those people. They spoke and she reiterated her desire to continue to perform in her position in that role. She's extremely dedicated, and she came out as the most qualified person who had applied for the job.”

Labrador had been openly complimentary of Minnick's constituent service record during the otherwise mostly testy campaign in which Labrador defeated Minnick in November. “He would always praise the job that Congressman Minnick and his team had done for constituent services,” Hardy said. “And he's going to continue providing the very best level of constituent services to the people of the 1st Congressional District, absolutely.”

Labrador announced the hire of Anderson, who will continue to serve in the Meridian office for the 1st District congressman, along with a slew of others late last week; they include Scott Carlton, former Lewiston regional director for then-Rep. Helen Chenoweth-Hage, who will take on a role similar to the one he had with Chenoweth-Hage; and a legislative assistant, Alex Etchen, who most recently worked in the same role for the National Rifle Association.

John Foster, former campaign manager and communications director for Minnick, praised Labrador's move to hire Anderson. “I used to say without joking she was the most important person in our office,” Foster said. “This is one of the more savvy things I've ever seen from a political office, so kudos to him for hiring her. She's aces. She's just really, really good. … I have to tip my hat - it's in the best interest of the constituents to keep her around.” You can click below to read Labrador's full announcement of his latest new staff hires.

Roll Call: ‘Idaho’s Minnick says he’s done for good’

The Capitol Hill newspaper “Roll Call” reports today that Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick says he’s “gone for good” from elective politics. “I think I’m done with elective politics,” he told the newspaper.  “I’m not sure what I’m going to do, but I think it’s time for somebody else.” The article examines the dismal elective record of Democrats in Idaho in the past three decades, and the Idaho party’s future prospects, perhaps with conservative, well-funded Democratic candidates like Minnick. “I might’ve fit the profile of a winner, but it was a bad year,” Minnick told Roll Call before one of his last votes in Congress. “It was a big wave, and I was on a low island.” You can read the full article here.

One of ‘most powerful tweets’ came from Idaho

The Idaho Statesman’s Dan Popkey reports this morning that Congressman Walt Minnick’s concession on Twitter made Twitter’s list of the “10 Most Powerful Tweets of 2010,” ranking No. 8. The tweet, sent by campaign manager John Foster around 2 a.m. as Election Night stretched into morning, said, “Congratulations to Raul Labrador on a hard-earned win, and best of luck as Idaho’s next Congressman.” 

Other tweets making the list included one from NBC reporter Ann Curry, seeking clearance for a Doctors Without Borders plane to land in Haiti; one from the president of Ecuador declaring a state of emergency; and one from the British royal family announcing the engagement of Prince William to Kate Middleton. Popkey reported, “Asked to comment Tuesday, Foster said in an e-mail, ‘I’m stunned. It’s a huge honor.’”

You can read Popkey’s full post here, and see the full Twitter list here.

U.S. Chamber joins Crapo in Boise, Minnick in Coeur d’Alene to talk trade

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is coming to both Boise and Coeur d’Alene this week, to host sessions at the Boise and Coeur d’Alene chambers on exports, trade and job creation. The Boise session, set for Wednesday from 8 to 11 a.m., will feature U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, along with chamber officials and federal farm services and Small Business Administration officials. The CdA session, set for Thursday from 8-9:30 a.m., will feature 1st District Congressman Walt Minnick, along with U.S. Chamber officials. Both will focus on potential job growth for Idaho if Congress passes the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, along with information on how Idaho businesses can grow through exports and trade.

Bobby Maldonado, U.S. Chamber spokesman, said the events are part of a national push that’s included events in Illinois, Michigan, New York and Ohio.

Minnick to help Baker’s widow attend burial

Here’s a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — U.S. Rep. Walt Minnick is donating his frequent flyer miles to the widow of Medal of Honor recipient Vernon Baker so she can attend his burial at Arlington National Cemetery. Baker, who belatedly received the nation’s highest military award for his role in World War II, was 90 when he died at his home near St. Maries in northern Idaho last month. Baker’s wife, Heidy, recently told reporters the family could not afford to travel to Virginia for his ceremonial burial. Minnick, a Democrat who represents Idaho’s 1st Congressional District, learned of Heidy Baker’s dilemma and offered to let the family use the frequent flyer miles he has earned from business and campaign trips on U.S. Airways. Minnick’s office confirmed Wednesday that travel arrangements were being made for Heidy Baker, her daughter and nine-year-old grandson, Vernon, so they could attend the Sept. 24 service.

Minnick lone Democrat among Citizens Against Waste’s ‘Taxpayer Heroes’

Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick is the first Democrat since 2006 to be named a “Taxpayer Hero” by the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, a group that decries “pork-barrel spending” and tracks congressional votes on “wasteful programs.” The group’s president, Tom Schatz, said in a news release today, “Rep. Minnick is the first Democratic Taxpayer Hero since 2006 and deserves special recognition for this achievement. His vote rating shows that it is not impossible for Democrats to vote to cut wasteful spending, reduce the tax burden, and make government more accountable to taxpayers, and it stands in stark contrast to the average of 4 percent for his House colleagues.”

Minnick’s voting record garnered him an 83 percent rating from the group; anyone over 80 percent is deemed a “Taxpayer Hero,” which, for 2009, included 89 of the 435 House members, and 29 of 100 senators. Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch also made the list, with ratings of 91 and 92 percent respectively; Rep. Mike Simpson got a 34 percent rating from the group.

Minnick, a conservative “Blue Dog” Democrat in his first term, has introduced legislation to ban earmarks, to impose a version of a line-item veto, and is an original co-sponsor of a measure calling for a constitutional amendment to require a balanced federal budget. “Unlike members of Congress who talk about voting to cut waste back home but then vote to raise taxes and spending in Washington, Rep. Minnick has been consistent in both his rhetoric and his actions,” Schatz said. “If more of his Democratic colleagues voted as he did last year, the budget deficit and national debt would both be lower.”

Minnick: Idaho needs a 3rd federal judge

Idaho needs a third federal district judge, according to Congressman Walt Minnick, who notes that the state hadn’t gotten an additional judgeship in 56 years. “We have two judges serving two or three times as many people per capita as our neighboring states,” Minnick said today. “It’s wearing out our judges. … We have a better case for a new federal judge than just about anybody in the country.” Minnick is introducing legislation in Congress today, with Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson as the co-sponsor, to give Idaho a third judgeship. “We’ll be looking for opportunities to attach it to something that’s moving, so hopefully we can break this logjam,” Minnick said. “I don’t think there’s any opposition on the merits.” You can read my full story here at

Minnick spending-cut bill gets picked as model for new administration proposal

Legislation proposed by freshman Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick to make it easier for the president to push Congress to slice specific items out of big spending bills has been latched onto by the Obama Administration, which last week introduced its own bill modeled after Minnick’s. Minnick’s chief of staff, Kate Haas, said prospects for the bill’s passage are good. “I think you’ll find bipartisan support in Congress for reduced spending and restoring fiscal discipline,” she said. “It’s something that is near and dear to Walt, but near and dear to others also.”

Both bills - Minnick’s was called the “Budget Enforcement Legislative Tool Act of 2010,” or the BELT Act, while the Obama Administration’s is the “Reduce Unnecessary Spending Act of 2010” - would let the president pick out a list of items from a bill and send it back to Congress for a fast-track, up-or-down vote. It’s a step toward a line-item veto, but one that’s been declared constitutional by the House legislative counsel; an actual line-item veto that Congress passed in 1996 was overturned as unconstitutional two years later. You can read my full story here at

U.S. Marshal confirmation: ‘Our congressional delegation works together’

The U.S. Senate has confirmed Pocatello City Councilman and current Pocatello Women’s Correctional Center Warden Brian Underwood as the new U.S. Marshal for Idaho. 1st District Congressman Walt Minnick proposed Underwood as the nominee, and President Barack Obama appointed him; the state’s entire congressional delegation backed the move and Underwood won confirmation in a unanimous consent vote in the Senate. Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, both Republicans; Minnick, a Democrat; and GOP Rep. Mike Simpson issued this joint statement on the confirmation:

“Brian Underwood will serve our state well in his new role as U.S. Marshal.  Brian is an Idaho native and has worked extensively in law enforcement at the city and state level, as an officer and in management.  The nomination process has worked well to produce a U.S. Marshal all Idahoans can be proud of.  We also want to thank Pat McDonald for his eight years of service as Idaho’s outgoing U.S. Marshal.”

Underwood said, “I am honored by the nomination by the President and now a confirmation by the Senate. I look forward to serving in this important role.  Idahoans should be proud of the way our congressional delegation works together.”

Idaho gets $14M to fight bark beetles

The U.S. Forest Service will get an additional $14 million to battle bark beetles in Idaho, where the bugs have chewed through 1.3 million acres, reports S-R reporter Becky Kramer; you can read her story here at The beetles leave mountainsides covered with red and dying trees. Here’s a link to a joint press release from Idaho Reps. Walt Minnick and Mike Simpson about the new funding.

Minnick unveils job-training bill

Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick today unveiled job-training legislation he said he’s been crafting for the past eight months. The measure, H.R. 4072, entitled the American Manufacturing Efficiency and Retraining Investment Collaboration (AMERICA) Works Act, would route federal workforce training funds toward programs that provide “nationally portable, industry-recognized credentials,” and make other reforms to the programs without expanding their cost. It won praise from North Idaho College, the Northwest Carpenters and the National Association of Manufacturers, whose senior vice president, Emily DeRocco, said it would “help ensure both new and transitioning workers have the education and skills necessary to succeed in the 21st century manufacturing economy.” You can read Minnick’s full news release on the bill here; the Democratic freshman has three cosponsors so far, all fellow Democrats.

Fallout from health care reform vote

Both of Idaho’s representatives, Mike Simpson and Walt Minnick, voted against the health care reform bill in the House over the weekend, while the two split on a stringent anti-abortion amendment that was added to the bill at the last minute; Simpson voted in favor, Minnick against. Here’s a link to Simpson’s statement on his vote on the overall bill; here’s one to Minnick’s on the bill and on the amendment; and here are links to commentary on how this is playing out from political historian Randy Stapilus and from Idaho Statesman editorial page editor Kevin Richert.

Minnick to vote against health care reform bill in the House

Idaho Rep. Walt Minnick says he’ll vote against the big health care reform bill that’s coming up for a vote in the House. Click below to read his statement.

Minnick makes point with pocketknife

Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick is being lauded by the National Rifle Association for his work to protect spring-assisted pocketknives from being reclassified as switchblades, an issue that prompted Minnick to display his own such pocketknife at a congressional committee hearing last summer. The change has now been written into the appropriation bill for the Department of Homeland Security. “This amendment was necessary to prevent commonly-used pocketknives from being branded as illegal switchblades,” said Chris W. Cox, NRA chief lobbyist. “The National Rifle Association would like to thank Congressman Minnick, whose leadership helped fix a provision that would have criminalized millions of law-abiding Americans – including many hunters and sportsmen in Idaho.”

Minnick said, “Like most Idahoans, I carry a pocketknife. That shouldn’t make me a criminal. Passage of this bill means that the kinds of knives we use while rafting Idaho rivers or fishing its streams or hunting its mountains – or even just to open a stubborn package at the office – will remain legal and free of regulation.” You can read our full story here from today’s Spokesman-Review on the legislative change and the role of Post Falls-based Buck Knives in it, and click below for Minnick’s full press release. The new language was first championed by Minnick and Rep. Bob Latta, R-Ohio; Minnick also thanked Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, for their work on the issue.

Politico: Minnick making waves with financial reform proposal

An article today on says Idaho Rep. Walt Minnick has floated a new plan for financial regulation reform - an alternative to President Obama’s proposal - that’s drawing support from his fellow Blue Dog conservative Democrats and others in Congress. Minnick told Politico, “I’m trying to serve as a broker and a catalyst to the process, within the confines of the Financial Services Committee.” The article notes Minnick’s surprising credibility on the issue as an Idaho freshman, due in part to his degree in economics and Harvard MBA, and his career as a timber industry executive. You can read the full article here. A followup article on the Huffington Post, however, notes opposition to the “Minnick alternative,” including from key Rep. Barney Frank.

Minnick: Bill will help troops transfer credits

Here’s a news item from AP:  BOISE, Idaho (AP) — An Idaho congressman says a provision in the student aid bill House lawmakers passed Thursday will allow troops to more easily transfer academic credits they’ve earned while serving to four-year colleges. Democratic U.S. Rep. Walt Minnick’s office says there have been reports that community colleges and universities do not have plans in place to accept these credits. An amendment Minnick added to the student aid bill will require schools receiving money as part of the federal legislation to address this issue and ensure the credits are transferrable.

The bill House lawmakers approved represents the biggest overhaul of college aid programs since their creation in the 1960s and aims to oust private lenders from the student loan business and put the government in charge. The bill goes next to the Senate, where its fate is a little less certain.

Ban health PAC contributions?

Congressmen Mike Simpson and Walt Minnick were asked, in a question submitted by a City Club audience member, if they’d support banning health care industry PAC contributions while Congress debates health care reform. “I can answer that no, Mike, how about you?” Minnick responded amid laughter. Simpson said, “I’ve never made a vote because of a political contribution that I’ve gotten.” He said his first campaign for Congress cost him $1.2 million; “If I’d known it cost that much, I’d a never run,” he said to more laughter. “But do you think a $2,000 contribution is going to influence your vote when it costs that much to run?” Said Simpson, “The people that support me are the people that agree with me philosophically, at least a majority of the time, and that’s the same with Walt.”

Minnick then said, “A slightly less flippant response than my first one.” His election, between himself and his opponent, cost “$6 million all-in,” Minnick said. “That’s an amazing amount of money.” If the system were reformed, he said, “I think we would get better quality people running, and the people we elect would be” able to spend more time studying legislation and dealing with constituents’ concerns, “if we didn’t have to spend so much time trying to raise money.” Minnick said if a voluntary system of spending limits, shortened campaigns, and open access to the media for qualified candidates so they have an “equal amount of opportunity to get their message across,” plus some public financing, were put in place, “I think we would be better off to ban PAC contributions.” He said, “We’d get better governance and we’d get better politicians.”

Simpson: Got to listen to both sides

The City Club of Boise has an interesting double bill for its luncheon today: Republican Congressman Mike Simpson, and Democratic Congressman Walt Minnick, at a forum dubbed, “Red Elephant, Blue Dog, A Conversation.” Sitting collegially side by side, the two said they do work together despite coming from different parties. “You come from Idaho, you only have two representatives from Idaho, so you’d better work together,” said Simpson, who represents Idaho’s 2nd District. “Walt and I have been able to do that.” Said Minnick, who represents the 1st District, “I could not have a finer colleague.” He noted that Simpson was kind enough to show him around - even showing him how to vote, so he could vote for a bill Simpson was sponsoring.

Simpson commented, “One of the things that concerns me now is we are not working towards bipartisan solutions.” The Democratic majority in Congress has continued to escalate a partisan rift that began with Republicans when they were the majority, Simpson said, tweaking rules and so forth to block bipartisan debate. “We’ve got to de-escalate this,” Simpson said. “Somehow, we’ve got to back off this and get back to where we actually debate issues and listen to both sides.”

Group lauds rep who beat its favored congressman

Here’s a link to an interesting piece in CQ that leads with this slightly odd news: Club for Growth, the anti-tax group that was the major funder of former GOP Rep. Bill Sali’s initial campaign for Congress in 2006, has given a perfect score to Sali’s replacement, Democratic Rep. Walt Minnick, on its latest rating, the “RePork Card” rating House members’ efforts to rein in public spending. While most Democrats fared poorly in the group’s eyes, Minnick joined 21 Republicans in earning a perfect, 100 percent score for voting for all 68 amendments the group tallied that were aimed at stripping out earmarks from spending bills. The reason Minnick’s in Congress now and not Sali: Minnick defeated Sali in the last election, denying him a second term.

Contractors: Blitz will help industry ‘weather tough times’

Here’s a group that’s certainly not bashing U.S. Rep. Walt Minnick’s upcoming “economic blitz” during the congressional summer break: Idaho businesses who are planning to participate. “Congressman Minnick’s ‘blitz’ is being received positively by my contractor members,” said Mark Dunham, executive director of the Idaho Associated General Contractors. In fact, one of the four events, a session on how Idaho businesses can become federal contractors and bid on federal contracts, will be held at the Idaho AGC’s building in Boise, and the group is helping put it on. “The Idaho AGC appreciates working with the congressman in identifying ways to help the construction industry weather tough times,” Dunham said.

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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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