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Crapo blasts Congress, administration over gun-control proposals

Sen. Mike Crapo held a press conference at a Boise gun shop today, where he blasted Congress' and President Barack Obama's bid to tighten gun laws while promoting reauthorization of a 2004 law that, among other things, directs federal taxpayer money for mental health courts. The AP reports that Crapo is using the latest congressional recess to emphasize his reputation as a serious policy maker, not a man on his heels after his December drunken driving arrest and this month's disclosure that his campaign lost $250,000 on a loan-gone-sour.

Despite the turbulence, Crapo said he hasn't thought of retiring or considered consequences for his 2016 re-election. “No, the answer is definitely not,” Crapo told the AP. “I think serving in the U.S. Senate is an incredible honor. I've been very engaged in the 'Gang of Six' and the other efforts to deal with our national debt crisis. I'm still fully engaged in that and all of the other aspects of my responsibilities in Washington, D.C.” Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

Crapo defends ex-campaign manager, while calling $250K loss ‘deeply distressing’

Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo is defending his former campaign manager who lost $250,000 in campaign funds in a risky investment, while also calling the incident “discouraging” and “deeply distressing.” Crapo’s then-campaign manager, Jake Ball, loaned $250,000 in campaign funds in 2008 to a longtime friend’s now-defunct investment company, Blueberry Guru LLC, which invested it into real estate ventures in Nevada and California that promised a quick profit. Instead, the money disappeared.

Crapo said he wasn’t informed about the bad loan until late 2010; he worked with the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s office to try to pursue the matter, but to no avail; now, he’s filed amended campaign finance reports for 2008 and 2009 to reflect the loss.

In his quarterly telephone town hall meeting with Idahoans this past week, Crapo addressed the issue before taking questions on other matters. Among his revelations: Crapo said 1st District Rep. Raul Labrador was informed about the investment loss when Ball left Crapo’s staff to become Labrador’s district manager in Idaho in December of 2010. “At that time, my staff informed me that he had informed Rep. Labrador about the circumstance,” Crapo said. When the news of the investment loss surfaced two weeks ago, Ball quit his job with Labrador, saying he wanted to pursue a business opportunity.

“Jake had been working for me in different capacities since about 2002, starting as an intern and holding positions in Washington, D.C. and in Idaho, in my Senate office before moving to my campaign, and he had always exhibited good judgment in those positions,” Crapo said. “In fact, during his tenure as campaign manager, through traditional investments which are government-backed CDs, he had brought in over $300,000 in interest payments. But this one bad loan was made and it was very discouraging.”

Crapo said he’s “taken steps to ensure nothing like this ever occurs again on my campaign.” Now, he said, “At least two separate individuals review and approve any expenditure.” Plus, an accounting firm, Professional Data Services, has been hired to oversee all campaign expenditures and reports. “This is a very discouraging circumstance,” Crapo said. “I deeply appreciate those who have contributed to may campaign over the years. And it’s distressing to have to report this matter not only to those donors, but to all Idahoans.”

Crapo’s quarterly tele-town halls are posted as audio on his Senate website, but you won’t find these comments there; they’ve been edited out. The reason: “It’s because we can’t post on the Senate’s official website anything of a campaign nature,” said Crapo spokesman Lindsay Nothern. “We had a big discussion about that, because we wanted to put (up) the whole thing, but we checked with the Ethics Committee,” and it wasn’t permitted. 

Crapo: IRS Targeting Just Happened?

U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, asks: U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew: “Are you or is the IRS taking the position that somehow this coalition of audits that focused on people from these political perspectives just happened accidently?”

The man who led the Internal Revenue Service when it was giving extra scrutiny to tea party and other conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status told Congress on Tuesday that he knew little about what was happening while he was still commissioner. Douglas Shulman, who vacated his position last November when his five-year term expired, told the Senate Finance Committee he didn’t learn all the facts until he read last week’s report by a Treasury inspector general confirming the targeting strategy. In his first public remarks since the story broke, Shulman said: “I agree this is an issue that when someone spotted it, they should have brought it up the chain. And they didn’t. I don’t know why”/Associated Press. More here.

Question: Do you think this targeting of Tea Party groups just happened?

Crapo’s campaign suffered from poor financial controls

Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo said earlier that the $250,000 investment loss his campaign suffered in 2008 - and just now disclosed - came at a time when the campaign was between treasurers, so only then-campaign manager Jake Ball authorized the expenditure, in the form of a loan to a longtime friend. But William Corbett, who was Crapo's volunteer campaign treasurer at the time,  tells the AP he was never informed about the transaction. “Obviously, if I would have, it would have been reported,” Corbett said. AP reporter John Miller reports that aides for Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson and Sen. Jim Risch say their campaigns have safeguards and internal controls to protect donor money from a similar fate; among other things, investments such as the ones Ball said he employed with his friend would be forbidden. Click below for Miller's full report.

Trib: Idaho’s $3M Man Loses Some

If Congressman Raul Labrador's re-election campaign lost a quarter of a million bucks, the Idaho Republican would be down to his last $472. For Congressman Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, misplacing $250,000 would leave him $183,509 in the hole.Even U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho - one of the wealthiest people in Congress - would have only $17,707 left in his campaign war chest if somebody walked away with $250,000.U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho? He's rolling in cash.So much in fact that when a young campaign staffer mishandled $250,000, Crapo didn't notice for two years. Once he did, Crapo waited another three years before alerting the Federal Election Commission — and you. Last week, Crapo's campaign acknowledged that a twentysomething at the helm of his 2010 re-election organization took $250,000, invested the money with a friend and lost it/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here.

Question: Should we be a little more upset about this than we are?

Crapo’s lost campaign cash went to Las Vegas firm, intended for quick profit

The $250,000 bad loan of campaign cash from Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo's campaign went to a Las Vegas company that offered a quick profit in two months, according to documents obtained by the Associated Press. Then-Crapo campaign manager Jake Ball, who resigned last week as Idaho 1st District Rep. Raul Labrador's district director, said in a sworn affidavit that he trusted a longtime friend who “invested the money in a less than professional manner and, without knowing it, in fraudulent enterprises with persons who absconded with the funds.” Ball said as a father of four, he didn't have the means himself to repay the funds to the campaign. Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller. The now-defunct Las Vegas company was called Pyramid Global Resources.

Felts tower to stay open

Remember how Congress moved almost like greased lightning to keep stop the slowdown in commercial flights that the sequester was going to cause?

And remember how the jaded among you said that was just because they were getting to leave on recess, and didn't want to face delays as they flew home for the break?

Well, turns out there's some dough left from the money the FAA moved around to keep air traffic controllers off furlough, and it's going to help the little airports like Felts Field. And gee, they almost never fly into the little airports…at least not outside of campaign season.

Read more inside the blog.

Former Crapo staffer: ‘He trusted me to place cash and I did’

Here's the latest on the Crapo campaign's $250,000 loss from a bad loan by former campaign manager Jake Ball: Ball has now resigned from his current position on the staff of 1st District Rep. Raul Labrador, though he says it's unrelated to the loan issue. Ball told the AP he decided to leave to pursue a personal business venture. He said he made no effort to keep the loan of Crapo's campaign funds to a longtime friend secret, though he didn't disclose it to Crapo until he was leaving his campaign staff in late 2010. “We never generally discussed investments,” Ball said. “He trusted me to place cash and I did.” He said he regrets the campaign lost money, but calculated in 2008 that he'd done sufficient due-diligence on his investment with his friend to conclude that the transaction was appropriate. “I saw what Gavin was going to do on his end, I saw how the funds were going to be held, and I evaluated it to be safe,” he said.

Ball released this statement: “I deeply regret that the campaign lost money.  I am grateful for the amazing experience I’ve had to work for both Senator Crapo and Congressman Labrador. I have evaluated my future and options. Even though Congressman Labrador offered to support me if I wanted to stay on staff, I elected to depart and pursue a business venture I have been working on for several years.  The venture is an e-commerce website, www.childrensbookstore.com.”

Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

Former Crapo campaign chief made the bad loan to longtime friend

Stephen Ryan, a Washington, D.C. attorney hired by Sen. Mike Crapo’s campaign to look into the loss of $250,000 in campaign funds through a bad loan, said this afternoon that then-campaign manager Jake Ball loaned the money to Gavin McCaleb, whom he’d known for 16 years, and McCaleb invested it into real estate ventures in Nevada and California that went sour. McCaleb is bankrupt, and the campaign can’t collect from him, Ryan said.

Ball, who now works for 1stDistrict Rep. Raul Labrador, didn’t tell Crapo about the bad loan until he was leaving the staff in late 2010; because the campaign was between treasurers, he was the sole staffer who approved that use of the campaign funds. “We had a campaign person who made a bad business decision and lost the money,” Ryan said; he said Ball was not fired for the incident. “I think Mr. Ball made an error of judgment in making the investment, but I found no evidence that he intended to benefit personally in any way,” Ryan said. “He did trust someone who he knew well,” and that didn’t turn out well.

As for the campaign donors who gave that $250,000 to Crapo’s campaign, Ryan said, “Certainly there’s been a lot of money that’s been properly used in his campaign.” He said, “I think most people understand that this can happen in a business situation, that somebody makes a mistake and it’s a loss and it’s unfortunate. So there’s probably 250 people who cared enough about the senator to give $1,000 and may have to dig deep and give it again.” Crapo has $3.3 million piled up in his campaign warchest, far more than any other member of Idaho’s congressional delegation, though he’s not up for election again until 2016.

Sen. Crapo says his campaign lost $250K on a bad loan to Idaho company

Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo’s campaign is filing amended campaign finance reports for 2008 and 2009 to reflect an “investment loss” of $250,000 in the form of a bad loan to an Idaho company. “The loan was never repaid,” Crapo’s campaign said in a statement today, after a third party “absconded with the money.”

The $250,000 loan was made to an Idaho-based limited liability company called Blueberry Guru LLC. “According to Gavin McCaleb, the managing member of the company that invested the loan, Blueberry Guru handed the funds over to a third-party venture that absconded with the money,” the Crapo campaign said, adding that the senator was informed of the loss in late 2010. Since then, the statement said, the campaign has been working with legal representatives in Idaho and California, and voluntarily reported the matter to federal law enforcement. “Ultimately, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office indicated late last year that neither were in a position to pursue the matter further and the investigation was closed.”

The campaign said Crapo himself was not involved in the decision to make the loan, and learned of it only after the investment had gone bad. The campaign has retained a Washington, D.C. attorney to advise it on how to recover the money and how to report it to the FEC; attorney Stephen Ryan advised that recovery is unlikely. “Although the campaign reviewed many avenues to retrieve the money, those efforts have been unsuccessful,” Ryan said, “and it is necessary and appropriate to file amended campaign reports for the time period involved now that this conclusion has been reached.”

The Associated Press reported this morning that the loan was approved by former Crapo campaign manager Jake Ball, who is now on U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador's staff; Ball didn't immediately return an AP phone call seeking comment.

“I was not asked about nor approved this loan, and am certainly disappointed that the money was lost,” Crapo said. “This circumstance occurred during a period of transition between treasurers. I have ensured that the campaign has made the appropriate adjustments to prevent this, or anything similar, from happening in the future.”

Crapo spokesman Lindsay Nothern said the campaign had made no other similar loans; it had invested in CDs and other similar investments to designed to increase campaign funds during off-election years.

Raising it, spending it…

A few more tidbits from the first-quarter campaign finance reports: Yes, Sen. Mike Crapo and Rep. Raul Labrador both actually spent more than they raised in the first quarter of this year (Crapo raised $32,000 and spent $103,000; while Labrador raised $22,120 and spent $37,158). Crapo’s biggest expenses were $13,168 for fundraising consulting, $15,000 for polling and $29,243 for legal fees. The legal fees were for campaign finance legal advice, and weren’t related to Crapo’s Jan. 4 guilty plea to DUI. Said Crapo’s press secretary, Judd Deere, “No campaign funds have been used in relation to the DUI. … It was a personal matter and he paid for it with personal funds.”

Labrador’s biggest single expense for the quarter: The $6,046 he paid in salary to his wife, Becca, who keeps the campaign’s books.

Sen. Jim Risch, who raised more than twice what he spent during the quarter, had campaign events as his biggest expense. Rep. Mike Simpson, who ended the quarter with the smallest campaign warchest of the four, nevertheless  transferred $20,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee, described as a “transfer of excess campaign funds.”

Crapo’s campaign warchest biggest in Idaho delegation

Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo has by far the biggest campaign warchest of anyone in the Idaho congressional delegation, Idaho Statesman reporter Dan Popkey reports today, with $3.3 million piled up. Popkey went through the first quarter reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, and reported that Crapo, who won’t be on the ballot again until May of 2016, raised about $32,000 from January to March and spent about $103,000. Meanwhile, Sen. Jim Risch raised $50,400, spent $23,170, and had $259,523 on hand; 1st District Rep. Raul Labrador raised $22,120, spent $37,158, and had $235,433 on hand; and 2nd District Rep. Mike Simpson raised $86,850, spent $81,513, and had $71,826 in cash. You can read Popkey’s full report here.

Crapo, Risch Split On Common Core

Opposition to Common Core academic standards is rising within Republican Party circles, but Idaho’s two Republican U.S. senators are split on the issue. And their reasoning is noteworthy as well. Sen. Mike Crapo says the Common Core question has been vetted at the state level, and he sees no need for federal officials to interfere. Sen. Jim Risch says Idaho should establish its own standards, describing Common Core as a federal mandate. For federal lawmakers, Common Core is more than just an academic question. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, recently urged Senate appropriators to cut off federal spending on Common Core implementation/Kevin Richert, IdahoED News. More here.

Question: Is this the case of the center-right in the Republican Party opposing the Tea Party right on another controversial issue?

Crapo, Risch back move to shift budget cuts away from Idaho airport towers

Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch are co-sponsoring legislation ordering the FAA not to close small-city airport towers - like those in Idaho Falls, Lewiston, Hailey and Pocatello - under the sequestration budget cuts. The two GOP senators, who both supported the sequester legislation, say the FAA can make the cuts elsewhere.  “There are ways to keep FAA towers open using unobligated research and capital funds from prior appropriations bills, but the FAA has not endorsed these alternatives,” Crapo said. “This legislation, which is growing in support, will change the situation.” The two join a bipartisan group comprising nearly a third of the Senate in co-sponsoring S. 687. Sequestration requires $85 billion in across-the-board spending reductions in an array of federal government programs; click below for the two senators' full news release.

Risch, Crapo both threaten to filibuster Obama gun legislation; Risch to discuss on national TV tonight

Idaho Sen. Jim Risch will appear on two national news shows tonight, CBS News with Scott Pelley at 6:30 eastern time (4:30 MT) and Anderson Cooper 360 at 8 eastern (6 p.m. MT), to discuss his threat to filibuster against gun legislation in the Senate. Risch is one of 13 senators, who also include Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo, who have signed on to a letter led by Sen. Rand Paul threatening to filibuster any gun control legislation, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid prepares to bring up President Barack Obama’s gun control legislative package. Yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell joined the group, bringing it up to 14 GOP senators.

The letter, which Risch signed onto on March 22, says, “We the undersigned intend to oppose any legislation that would infringe on the American people’s constitutional right to bear arms, or on their ability to exercise this right without being subjected to government surveillance. … We will oppose the motion to proceed to any legislation that will serve as a vehicle for any additional gun restrictions.”

The president’s package includes universal background checks for gun purchasers and new laws against gun trafficking; amendments could address assault weapons or high-capacity magazines.

Crapo Rents Liquor Firm Event Space

The optics are not good on this one. Not quite four months since Sen. Michael D. Crapo was arrested in Virginia and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, the Idaho Republican apparently feels right at home heading to a fundraiser at a private townhouse owned by a liquor conglomerate … Crapo spokesman Lindsay Nothern said the fundraiser was planned before Crapo’s arrest.  “He has used the facility for quite some time for various fundraisers,” Nothern said. “My understanding is the event was booked prior to the incident over the holidays”/Heard on the Hill, Roll Call's Gossip Blog. More here.

  • H/T: Kestrel West Morning Memo

Question: Really?

Crapo, Simpson both expect sequester cuts to kick in as scheduled March 1

Idaho’s senior senator and congressman both said today that they expect the automatic federal budget cuts required by sequestration to kick in as scheduled on March 1, forcing devastating cuts. “The one thing I’ve discovered is for every complex problem, there is a simple solution that doesn’t work,” said 2ndDistrict Congressman Mike Simpson. “I think sequestration is going to kick into effect, because I don’t see the will on either side of the aisle to try to address what are painfully stupid cuts – it’s a meat ax.”

The cuts, both in the military and in other discretionary federal spending, would be across the board, Simpson said. “They can’t prioritize.” Plus, he said, “It’s an $85 billion hit only on the discretionary side of the budget. It doesn’t address what is driving our debt, and what is driving our debt is the increases in mandatory spending. And that’s what we’ve got to get at.”

Sen. Mike Crapo said, “I agree with Mike, I think that we will go into the sequestration. It will begin implementing.” Before that happens, he said, both sides likely will put forth alternatives that the other side will shoot down. Said Simpson, “In the end, it’s got to be a solution that can be both bicameral and bipartisan, if it’s going to be adopted. But our big question has been: How do you get the American people to understand the seriousness of the problem?”

An event tonight at which both Crapo and Simpson will take part is aimed at that question. From 8-10 p.m. in the Capitol Auditorium, Simpson and Crapo will join Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, retired Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming, and Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, for a symposium on which the panel will discuss the federal fiscal crisis and answer questions. Tickets for the free event are sold out, but there will be overflow rooms for viewing at the Capitol, and it also will be video-streamed live by Idaho Public Television. Tonight’s symposium is sponsored by the University of Idaho’s McClure Center for Public Policy Research; Greg Hahn of Idaho Public TV will be the moderator.

Crapo said there’s budget pain coming. “The pain is increased taxes, the pain is changes in the structure and operation of the entitlement system, the pain is the reduction in defense spending and in other discretionary spending programs, and the fact that we just don’t have the ability to continue to sustain borrowing money to continue to stimulate the economy.”

Asked if Idaho lawmakers should anticipate extending their legislative session to deal with the budget fallout from Washington, D.C. this spring, both Crapo and Simpson said no. “I don’t think they need to be in town months longer,” Simpson said. “There will be some impacts that affect the states.” Said Crapo, “The Legislature doesn’t need to stay in town any longer, but what it needs to do is to recognize that it is going to be dealing with a different budget picture from the federal government. We don’t know yet exactly what that budget picture is, but we do know that it will be much more austerity than has been there in the past.”

You can watch tonight’s event live here; click on “Auditorium.”

 

Murray announces Senate budget hearings

WASHINGTON — The first official steps toward passing a Senate budget will be taken next week, Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray said today.

The Democratic senior senator from Washington announced two sessions scheduled for Feb. 12 and 13. Murray has vowed, amid rebukes from House Republicans about the four-year absence of a Senate spending plan, to pass a budget resolution this spring. The legal deadline to bring a resolution to the Senate floor for approval is April 1.

The 22-member committee, which also includes Idaho Republican Sen. Mike Crapo, will first hear from Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf. Elmendorf will answer questions about the nonpartisan group’s Budget and Economic Outlook report released Tuesday.

That report projected a shrinking deficit in 2013, falling to around $845 billion from more than $1 trillion in 2012. That would make 2013’s deficit near 5 percent of GDP, its lowest level since President Barack Obama entered office. However, the report predicts rising deficits over the next decade due to “the pressures of an aging population, rising health care costs, an expansion of federal subsidies for health insurance, and growing interest payments on federal debt.”

In response to the report’s findings, Murray reaffirmed her commitment to protect certain spending programs and explore revenue-increasing measures.

“We need to continue working to cut spending responsibly, protect and strengthen programs like Medicare, and raise revenue by closing tax loopholes that the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations take advantage of,” Murray said in a statement.

On Feb. 13, the committee is expected to hear from representatives of the public testifying on how federal budget decisions affect them. Murray has stressed her commitment to involving public input in the resolution drafting process, which has included soliciting their suggestions on the committee’s website through a program called “MyBudget.”

Senate Democrats are in Annapolis, Md., for a legislative retreat that is expected to last through Wednesday. Budget issues will likely be on the table among a number of fiscal policy issues, including deep spending cuts to defense and discretionary programs set to kick in next month.

Murray announced the hearings via Twitter with the comment, “Looking fwd to getting to work!”

Crapo pushes for reauthorizing Violence Against Women Act

Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo joined a bipartisan group of senators this week to reintroduce the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, sponsored by Crapo and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont.  “I am a longtime champion of preventing domestic violence, because I have seen the impact of this firsthand in Idaho,” Crapo declared. “This month alone, there have been four deaths in Idaho as a result of domestic violence. These tragic events serve as a reminder that we are far from ending abuse, though we have made great progress and will continue to make great progress.”

The Violence Against Women Act was reauthorized in 2000 and again in 2005, each time with bipartisan support, but it expired in September of 2011. The Leahy-Crapo bill would reauthorize it for five years. You can read Crapo’s full announcement here.

Crapo: ‘I’m swearing off alcohol’

“I'm swearing off alcohol and I am not going to continue to drink,” Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo told reporters today in a conference call after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor drunken driving charge in Alexandria, Va. Crapo said he believes public officials should be held to higher standards, the AP reported, and he believes his constituents are disappointed by his conduct. But he said he doesn't think the arrest will derail his political career, and he hopes that by giving a full explanation of the circumstances, he can regain the public trust.

“I fully intend to continue to try to make a contribution in the United States Senate,” Crapo said, adding that he expects to run for the office again in 2016.

He said he'll walk to work, take a taxi or make other transportation arrangements while his license is suspended over the next year, the AP reported. As long as he remains on good behavior, Crapo won't have to serve a 180-day suspended jail sentence. In exchange for his guilty plea, prosecutors dropped a charge of failing to obey a traffic signal; click below for a full report from AP reporters Rebecca Boone in Boise and Matthew Barakat in Alexandria, Va.

Crapo pleads guilty to DUI, apologizes

Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo pleaded guilty to a charge of driving while intoxicated in Alexandria, Va. today, and apologized for his actions. Crapo was ordered to pay a $250 fine, complete and alcohol safety program and have his driver's license suspended for 12 months. Click below for a full report from the Associated Press. Outside the courtroom, Crapo said he had been drinking vodka and tonic at his Washington home on the night of Dec. 22, became restless, couldn't sleep and went out for a drive. He had been driving for about 30 minutes when he realized he was in no condition to drive and started to return home, he said. It was then that he ran a red light and was pulled over in the D.C. suburb of Alexandria, in the early morning hours of Dec. 23.

“I am grateful, truly grateful, that no one was injured,” Crapo said. He said he has, in the past year or so, been drinking alcohol on occasion, in violation of his LDS religious beliefs; he apologized for that as well, and said he'll “carry through on appropriate measures for forgiveness and repentance in my church.”

Tougher DUI ignition interlock law touted for Idaho

Though Idaho's senior senator likely will be required to have an ignition interlock device installed in his car after his Virginia DUI arrest, that wouldn’t have been the case in his home state of Idaho. Idaho doesn't require the devices for first-time DUI offenders, but there’s a growing chorus of groups saying it should. Seventeen states, including Washington and Virginia, require the devices to prevent even first-time convicted drunken drivers from starting up their cars while under the influence. But Idaho requires the devices only for repeat offenders.

When Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo was stopped for suspected drunken driving in Virginia on Dec. 23 after running a red light, he registered a 0.11 blood-alcohol level at the scene, and a higher, 0.14 level in a test taken later at the Alexandria, Va. jail. Crapo, a first-time offender who was known as a teetotaler due to his Mormon faith, has said he doesn’t plan to contest the charges; his court date is Friday. Virginia law likely will require him to get an interlock device to drive, which prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver’s breath reveals the presence of alcohol.

Last month, the National Transportation Safety Board called for all states to require the devices for first-time drunken driving offenders, and sent letters to states including Idaho asking for their response within 90 days.  “It’s time for the other 33 states to step up for safety and require ignition interlocks for all offenders,” said Deborah Hersman, NTSB chairwoman. An ITD spokesman said the NTSB letter is under review; meanwhile, groups including the AAA of Idaho and Mothers Against Drunk Driving have come out for a tougher, all-offenders interlock law. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

Second blood-alcohol test on senator showed higher, 0.14 reading

The Associated Press reports that a second blood-alcohol test conducted on Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo about an hour after his Dec. 23 drunken driving arrest registered 0.14, well above the original roadside test result of 0.11, and the higher reading is the one that will be used in court. It is 1/100 of a percentage point below the level that would have mandated jail time under Virginia law. Meanwhile, Crapo's office said the senator doesn't plan to contest the charges; click below for the full AP report.

Crapo won’t fight DUI charge

WASHINGTON (AP) — A spokesman for U.S. Sen. Michael Crapo says he won’t fight charges of drunken driving when he appears in court in January.

That’s according to a spokesman, who says Crapo has consulted an attorney.

Crapo registered a higher blood alcohol level in a second, jailhouse test than the first test conducted by the officer who stopped him.

Police say Crapo registered a 0.11 percent blood on the scene after being pulled over in Alexandra, Va.

But a law enforcement official tells The Associated Press that another test performed at the jail — the one used in court — registered at 0.14, just under the level that mandates jail time. Virginia’s legal limit is 0.08.

The official isn’t authorized to release information publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Crapo’s vodka shots

This Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012 booking photo provided by the Alexandria, Va. Police Department shows Idaho U.S. Sen. Michael Crapo. Crapo was arrested early Sunday morning, Dec. 23, 2012 and charged with driving under the influence in a Washington, D.C., suburb, authorities said.

According to this story in The Huffington Post, Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo told police that he drank several shots of vodka prior to his arrest on suspicion of drunken driving.

The story says the arresting officer “described his (Crapo’s) eyes as ‘bloodshot and watery.’ Despite the fact that he drank vodka, the officer noted a smell of alcohol on his breath ‘which became stronger as he spoke.’”

Crapo was arrested in Alexandria, Va., on Dec. 23.

Not sure what's left to say here. I guess the relevant point is a non-drinker doesn't usually down vodka shots. Perhaps Crapo should have stuck with Miller Light or whatever Idahoans are drinking these days.

Documents: Sen. Crapo said he had ‘consumed several shots of vodka’

The Washington Post’s “Crime Scene” blog reports that when Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo was stopped early Sunday morning for running a red light and arrested for DUI, he told the police officer who pulled him over that he had “consumed several shots of vodka,” according to court documents detailing the arrest. Reporter Allison Klein writes that the documents show Crapo said he drank the vodka hours earlier and hadn’t had anything to drink since. You can read her full report here.  Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports that Crapo returned to Washington, D.C. yesterday to participate in negotiations over averting the looming fiscal cliff, and had no comment on the arrest, in which he had a 0.11 blood-alcohol level. The AP reported that the senator’s spokesman said he’ll provide more information about the arrest within the next several days; he has a Jan. 4 court date.

Sen. Crapo arrested for DUI in Alexandria

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Michael Crapo was arrested early Sunday morning and charged with driving under the influence in a Washington, D.C., suburb, authorities said. Police in Alexandria, Va., said Sunday that the Idaho Republican was pulled over after his vehicle ran a red light; his booking photo is at right. Police spokesman Jody Donaldson said Crapo failed field sobriety tests and was arrested at about 12:45 a.m. He was transported to the Alexandria jail and released on an unsecured $1,000 bond at about 5 a.m. “There was no refusal (to take blood alcohol tests), no accident, no injuries,” Donaldson said. “Just a traffic stop that resulted in a DUI.”

Police said Crapo, who was alone in his vehicle, registered a blood alcohol content of .110. The legal limit in Virginia, which has strict drunken driving laws, is .08. The 61-year-old Crapo has a Jan. 4 court date. “I am deeply sorry for the actions that resulted in this circumstance,” Crapo said in a statement Sunday night. “I made a mistake for which I apologize to my family, my Idaho constituents and any others who have put their trust in me. I accept total responsibility and will deal with whatever penalty comes my way in this matter. I will also undertake measures to ensure that this circumstance is never repeated.” Click below for the full AP report.

Report: Crapo could build compromise as new ranking member of Senate banking panel

Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo is “all but official” for the top Republican spot on the Senate Banking Committee next year, Politico reports today; and reporter Patrick Reis writes that Crapo will “face a tall order: Cutting deals with with Democrats over housing and financial regulation that have eluded the panel in recent years.” The full Politico story, headlined “Ascending Mike Crapo seeks compromise on Senate Banking panel,” is online here. It reports that Crapo says he believes the committee is on the verge of a more cooperative era, and that there is more to agree on than meets the eye.

Trib Jeers Crapo, Risch Vote

In his weekly Cheers & Jeers column, opinionator Marty Trillhaase of the Lewiston Tribune gives — JEERS …. to U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, both R-Idaho. They were among 40 Republicans who last week blocked Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., in her attempt to launch a $1 billion Veterans Jobs Corp Act. Five Republicans joined her effort, but it fell short of the number needed to break a filibuster. Republicans contend Murray and the Democrats were playing politics by blocking a GOP alternative they claim would have been more fiscally responsible. In a $3.6 trillion federal budget, however, $1 billion is a rounding error. Only a sliver of the American public has paid the burdens of a dozen years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The rest of the country has moved on. Now these veterans return, only to find themselves caught up in a hostile economy. The jobless rate for veterans who have served since Sept. 11, 2001, is 12.7 percent. That's 50 percent higher than the national average. More here (final item). (AP file photo of Sen. Jim Risch at U.S. Capitol)

Question: Do you agree/disagree that Crapo & Risch deserve jeers for voting against a $1B jobs program for war veterans, for political reasons?

Number-crunching website: Labrador a ‘centrist-GOP follower’ who misses votes; Risch on ‘lonely far-right’

According to an open-government website that crunches numbers on members of Congress, the member of Idaho's delegation who's most likely to miss a recorded vote in Congress is 1st District Rep. Raul Labrador. Gov.Tracks.us reported that Labrador missed 4.7 percent of recorded or roll-call votes, nearly double the median of 2.5 percent, from January of 2011 to September of 2012. That's 72 of 1,518 votes. By comparison, the site showed that 2nd District Rep. Mike Simpson has missed 2.9 percent of the votes during his time in Congress, from January of 1999 to September of 2012; Sen. Mike Crapo has missed 2.2 percent, from January of 1993 to the present; and Sen. Jim Risch has missed just 1.5 percent, from January of 2009 to the present.

The site also offers an interesting take on ideology and leadership, based on number-crunching, that assigns each member a political spectrum score and a leader-follower score, based on which bills they co-sponsor and who co-sponsors their bills. The results don't necessarily match the conventional wisdom. Here's how Idaho's delegation fared:

Labrador was ranked a “centrist-Republican follower.” Simpson came out as a “rank-and-file Republican.” Crapo's scores made him a “moderate Republican leader.” And Risch's scores ranked him as a “lonely far-right Republican follower.”

You can check out the site here. It focuses on finding new ways, through algorithms and statistics, to arrange and present raw data about Congress so the public can access it; it was created by Joshua Tauberer, a software engineer, author and open government activist.