Idaho Senate Republican Caucus Chairman John McGee finally got his comeuppance yesterday. McGee was one of the proud co-sponsors of the Bill aimed at eviction of Occupy Boise protestors from the Vigil site. But an allegation of sexual harassment on top of his recent DUI conviction forced his resignation from the Idaho Senate. As the Idaho Statesman reported:
“ … ending a promising political career that once held prospects of higher office, including Congress and governor …
“The four-term lawmaker was in his second year as the Senate GOP’s No. 4 leader.
After a 30-minute caucus with the 27 Senate Republicans, Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, described his feelings in one word: “Heartsick.”
… McGee had earlier appeared to dodge a career-ending mistake after his Father’s Day arrest for DUI and a felony charge for stealing an SUV and crashing it in a driveway near his parents’ home in Meridian”
McGee was being groomed to be the next Dirk Kempthorne. Kemophorne, a slick pretty boy, had ever-higher offices handed to him on a silver platter. First Governor, then in the Bush II days Idaho’s Kempthorne was ensconced for a while as Interior Secretary (a position that he took literally – to include expensive interior re-decoration of his DC office bathroom).
McGee got plastered last summer after golfing, and stole a family’s motorhome. When apprehended by police, McGee said he was headed to the Promised Land — aka Jackpot Nevada. Jackpot is a patch of small time casinos on the Nevada border that caters to the southern Idaho Family Values crowd and Mormons straying from the fold.
Then a few months ago, it was revealed that McGee collected per diem during previous Legislative sessions while staying at his parent’s house in Boise. He just couldn’t endure the rigorous half hour commute to Boise from his home in Canyon County.
McGee gained additional notoriety two weeks ago when the rest of the Republicans on the Senate State Affairs Committee (including Hill) voted to oppose extending the protections of the Idaho human rights law to include sexual orientation and gender equality. The Senate refused to allow a Bill to Add the Words to even get a hearing. So the three hundred people who had come to the hearing in support of this protection were denied an opportunity to speak. Rubbing salt in the wound, McGee spouted off:
“Nobody here believes in discrimination against anybody,” McGee said. “But at the same time I don’t think we want to create special groups and special categories. … The issue becomes, where does it stop?”
McGee’s arrogance prompted a small demonstration on the Capitol steps at noon on the day when Raul Labrador officially announced he was running again for the U. S. House of Representatives. Demonstrators, including a tall man dressed as Jesus in white robes and with a crown of thorns, mingled with the assembled stolid Party faithful. Jesus held a sign saying “Hey McGee, in the Promised Land We Don’t Discriminate”.
Back to Occupy Boise and McGee. McGee was smirking all the time through the several full Senate sessions as the Senators fumbled around trying to find a way to target Occupy Boise without saying that was what they were doing.
The Senate Press release announcing McGee’s resignation ended with: “The Senate is shocked by the allegations and resignation.” Duh, I have news for the Idaho Senate leaders, anyone could see from a mile away – or at least from the Senate Gallery to which hatless, stickerless, shirts devoid of messages Occupy Boise folks under close observation from scads of law enforcement personnel in uniform and in plain clothes were confined – that golden boy McGee was an arrogant, smart-ass jerk who had no respect for anybody or anything.
A couple weeks ago, a dozen Occupiers sat listening to a Senate session where amendment mischief was done. The Senate broke its own rules on amendments by sidelining an amendment to allow camping on state property, discussed in the context of sporting events, that had just passed that would have allowed camping on University property. Once it dawned on “leadership” (Davis, McGee, Hill) what had just happened, since the Occupy Vigil is on University property, they somehow rendered this amendment null and void. The Senate fumbled for days on amendments. During full Senate sessions I attended, McGee was sitting in the back with Davis and other leaders, smirking, passing around what looked like an I-pad, and pointing out things to Davis with a simpering smile while other Senators were speaking. McGee was engaging in “distracting” behavior. One of the homeless people from the Vigil site said: “He’s updating his Facebook page, or something.”
The Senate leadership had used an obscure Senate rule of the leader’s discretion to maintain “decorum” to prohibit Occupiers from wearing colorful hats, stickers, or anything symbolic – under the claim that it was “distracting” to the esteemed Senators pondering weighty matters on the floor far below the gallery.
What I found most revealing while observing the Senate in their lair was the narcissism and nonsense they engaged in. Some have termed the Idaho Senate’s actions quaint. Their workings epitomize egotism run amok and a corrupt good old boy system. At any time, a Senator can point up to the Gallery – and announce the presence of someone they think will gain them political points. In fact, at one of the sessions, the vain McGee had his fifth grade teacher stand and be applauded– rather than focus on the people’s business.
Yesterday, when news of McGee’s most recent peccadillo first surfaced, there is rumored to have been a pool held in the Capitol on whether McGee’s indiscretions involved a man or a woman. This is, after all, the same Idaho authoritarian Republican political machine that produced the long-protected and long closeted Larry Craig.
McGee’s motorhome theft highlights the contrast between how justice is dispensed to the haves vs. the have nots. The Idaho Statesman reports:
“In a plea bargain just 12 days after his arrest, McGee pleaded guilty to misdemeanor DUI, sparing him a felony conviction that would have forced him from the Senate. He paid about $12,000 restitution for damage he did to the SUV, a trailer and a swing set”.
If this had been one of the Homeless Occupy people –or anyone, really, associated with Occupy Boise, the motorhome escapade would have been a felony and the perp would have done some significant jail time. McGee, a hand-picked and groomed member of the Idaho political class, was being moved up the ladder to protect the interests of corporations and billionaires. He got off with a slap on the wrist. I just wonder: What dirt does McGee have on some of his peers – that had kept him above the law for so long?
Anti-Occupy Bill and Watters v Otter Lawsuit Update: The TRO Motion filed by Occupy Boise to prevent eviction will be heard by Federal Judge Winmill in a telephonic conference on Friday. The State (Otter, Luna, etc.) has imposed a 5 pm Monday deadline for Occupy Boise to leave the Vigil site.
As I was walking in front of the Capitol headed to the Vigil site last night, I saw a security guard wheeling a cart with boxes and what looked like memorabilia out to a parked van in a blustery wind. He was one of the guards from the Senate sessions who was charged with checking every nook and cranny of Occupiers purses. I smiled and asked: What is that – Flopsy Bunny? What looked like a stuffed animal rabbit ear was visible. The ear turned out to be part of a gray plush elephant’s trunk. Now I wonder if this was McGee’s office stuff – being spirited out of the Capitol after hours?
The Occupy Vigil site has outlasted at least one of the Freedom-squelching Bill’s sponsors!