After Idaho Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene, penned a guest opinion published in The Spokesman-Review on May 17 that was critical of the Idaho Freedom Foundation’s lobbying efforts against the child support enforcement bill, IFF President Wayne Hoffman has stepped up a war of words against Malek in response, penning not just one but two online columns attacking Malek, the second directly impugning the second-term lawmaker’s integrity.
You can read Malek’s piece here, which is headed, “Idaho should resist politics of obedience.” Hoffman’s pieces are headed “Ambitious Malek the poster boy of obedience to federal government” here, and “Luke Malek, a nice guy I just don’t trust” here. Hoffman posted a photo of Malek with the second piece participating in the “Red Nose Day” charitable event, a fundraiser for children in poverty in which supporters donned red clown noses.
In his guest opinion, Malek was critical of the group’s tactics lobbying lawmakers with its “Freedom Index.” “The ‘Freedom Index’ is an arbitrary tool used by the group to test obedience on a wide array of legislation,” he wrote. “The foundation takes it upon itself to score every bill that comes through the Legislature, then sends an email out to legislators to let them know the score. At the end of the year, legislators are scored to show how obedient they have been. This obedience flies in the face of the independence that Idahoans are known for, but the threats work. SB 1067 passed the Senate unanimously before the Freedom Index ranking.” He’s also critical of foundation analyst Parrish Miller’s comments about the bill, the child support enforcement bill that was defeated on a 9-8 vote on the final day of this year’s regular legislative session. A new version passed in the May 18 special session.
Hoffman writes of how he’s “spent a lot of time educating Malek and his colleagues,” and writes, “No lawmaker in recent memory has made such a name for himself by bowing to the federal government and risking the futures and fortunes of Idaho families.”
The clash has stirred up lots of talk today on D.F. Oliveria’s “Huckleberries Online” blog, including this comment from former state Rep. Steve Smylie, R-Boise, who writes, “I have no ill will toward Hoffman. I still like the guy. I just don't trust him.”