Thanks goes to Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, who is giving Idahoans a sneak peek at what she’d look like as the state’s governor.
A pretty picture it is not.
The announced Republican candidate recently issued a toothless executive order when the governor was out of town. Yet that publicity stunt wasn’t as revealing as her handling of a simple public records request from the Idaho Capital Sun, a nonprofit, Boise-based news website staffed by veteran journalists.
The Capital Sun requested a copy of the spreadsheet generated by McGeachin’s task force looking into alleged indoctrination of students at various levels of education in the state. On that spreadsheet are comments from more than 3,000 people.
Hit copy, paste and send, right?
Not a chance.
Team McGeachin took six weeks before finally sending a ridiculously censored document to Idaho Capital Sun. McGeachin’s crew redacted names and email addresses of those making public comments—emphasis on public—and the comments themselves were also blacked out.
Here’s what McGeachin posted on the official lieutenant governor’s Facebook page:
“Not only are they requesting the comments, but they are also demanding the names and email addresses of those who made the comments. We have been making an effort to comply with their requests in a manner that is respectful of Idahoans and their personal information, but they are insistent that we give them YOUR personal information. I believe this would violate your rights and I am doing everything I can to protect your information.”
Here comes the punchline, which is definitely not funny.
As part of her defense, McGeachin said some of the requested public information isn’t really public because certain communication with Idaho legislators is legally allowed to be censored. Because Rep. Priscilla Giddings is on the indoctrination task force, McGeachin’s alleged logic goes, much of the info sought by Idaho Capital Sun is legally not fit for public consumption.
Giddings, you might recall, is the subject of ethics complaints because she publicly disclosed the identification of the teenager who says she was raped by Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger. Giddings, a candidate for lieutenant governor, is the last person who should stand with McGeachin in declaring citizens’ identification sacrosanct.
When citizens submit their names, email addresses and comments in a public comment forum where anonymity was never promised or even hinted at, the full expectation should be that those comments will be exposed to the broader citizenry.
Maybe McGeachin and Giddings simply relish the opportunity to waste taxpayer money by forcing media to sue for what clearly should be a matter of public record. But it’s also possible that their fight against disclosure has more to do with covering their rear-ends than those of the comment submitters.
Mild curiosity about what those thousands of indoctrination comments say—and who said them –has been ramped up a couple of notches.
Nobody is going to be bored between now and the Republican primary election next May, not with the likes of McGeachin and Giddings trying to take control of Idaho leadership.
The Coeur d’Alene Press published this editorial on June 9.