By Cameron Rasmusson
Many locals no doubt joined the rest of the nation in witnessing the final Malheur occupiers surrender over the tense live-stream. But some Idaho lawmakers had a front-row seat to the action.
Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, and Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, traveled to Burns, Ore., as the standoff between federal and local law enforcement and the final four occupiers began heating up. The two legislators said they hoped their presence would protect the lives of the occupiers, which included a couple from Riggins, Idaho. It was the second trip to Burns for the legislators, following a January excursion that also included Rep. Sage Dixon, R-Ponderay.
“We were there as shields,” Boyle told the Idaho Statesman. “We figured the FBI wouldn’t kill legislators as much as regular citizens like they did two weeks ago [with occupier LaVoy Finicum].”
According to Scott, she and Boyle visited Burns as negotiating members of the Coalition of Western States. She described the experience as a very tense and heated situation.
“If you listened online to the live feed, you were probably aware that things were very intense at times,” she said. “We were pleased with the results and happy there was no bloodshed.”
While some of Scott’s constituents were unhappy she missed a legislative day in Boise to attend out-of-state affairs, she believes the trip was worth it. She said she missed one day in the Capitol, which was largely dominated by Lincoln Day presentations.
“Citizens’ lives seemed more important,” she said. “There were two citizens from Idaho still at the refuge.”
Others were curious whether Scott utilized state resources to fund her day in Oregon. According to Scott, she funded the trip on her own dime. According to Idaho House of Representatives Chief Fiscal Officer Terri Franks-Smith, Scott receives a $16,680 salary plus payments of $129 for every day of the legislative session to pay for food and lodging.
“Depending on where you stay and what you eat, this may or may not cover your expenses,” Scott said.