Arrow-right Camera


Minnick aide calls Sali ad claims ‘absurd’

Sat., Oct. 25, 2008

Latest spot targets illegal immigrants

BOISE – Idaho Rep. Bill Sali has a new campaign ad out charging that one of his rival’s “priorities is health insurance for illegal aliens,” a claim his opponent’s campaign calls “absurd.”

Sali’s Democratic challenger, Walt Minnick, also has a new campaign ad out, but his makes no specific claims. Instead, it offers general statements from Minnick about what he’ll do if elected, including protecting gun rights and “standing up for Main Street, not Wall Street.”

“It’s the beginning of his message as a congressman,” said John Foster, spokesman for Minnick’s campaign.

Sali’s ad, titled “Still Dancing,” repeats footage from an earlier ad showing a greasy-haired actor doing a disco dance, while a narrator criticizes Minnick’s positions.

The ad says, “On immigration, one of Minnick’s priorities is health insurance for illegal aliens.”

Foster said, “That’s absolutely not true. This is yet another example of the kind of smears and untruths that have forced Bill Sali to change his advertising.”

Sali spokesman Wayne Hoffman points to a video of comments by Minnick at a fundraiser in Sun Valley. Minnick says in the video: “It would make sense to give them an incentive to emerge from the shadows, start paying taxes, start getting insurance, pay a penalty because they have violated the law and put ’em in the back of the line for legal immigration.”

Minnick’s meaning is clear, Hoffman said.

“Where he’s headed is down a path that’s going to result in taxpayers paying for illegal aliens to get insurance.”

Foster disagreed.

“The fact is we have illegal immigrants here,” he said, “and they don’t carry car insurance, they don’t carry health insurance, so the rest of us are paying a huge burden in costs when there are traffic accidents or trips to the emergency room.”

Minnick advocates securing borders, deporting illegal immigrants with criminal records, and requiring the rest to appear before a judge, pay a fine, and “then begin a process that puts them at the back of the line for legal status,” Foster said.

Hoffman said that when it comes to the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States, Sali believes, “They can’t stay. If people are here illegally and they’re caught, they need to be, obviously, arrested and deported. People who want to be in our country need to enter our country legally.”

Sali’s ad also criticizes Minnick for opposing an Idaho constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and civil unions. It says Minnick “proposed cutting benefits and raising taxes for Social Security.”

Minnick opposed the constitutional amendment, which passed, because “it was so poorly worded that a judge could easily interpret it in a way that would restrict his rights as a businessman,” Foster said. “Walt does believe marriage is between a man and a woman, but government has no business telling businesses who they can give benefits to.”

Sali was a leading proponent of the amendment when he served in the state Legislature.

Both candidates have said they see a need for big changes to save Social Security, which estimates show will have an annual shortfall of $250 billion by the year 2030.

Sali has come out for private investment accounts as an option for “future generations,” and Minnick has said everything needs to be on the table, including benefit cuts, higher taxes, raising the retirement age or supplementing the program with other tax funds.

Betsy Z. Russell can be reached toll-free at (866) 336-2854 or

Click here to comment on this story »