By Rep. Lauren Necochea, D-Boise
Idaho’s attorney general is the top law enforcement officer in our state. We rely on them to protect the public interest, hold wrongdoers accountable and provide sound legal guidance to our state agencies. From upholding the rule of law to defending our rights, the attorney general holds a serious office requiring serious leadership. In six short months, Raúl Labrador has demonstrated his top priorities are advancing his extreme agenda, fueling his political ambitions and embroiling Idaho in costly lawsuits.
In one of his first moves, Labrador dismissed trespassing charges against one of his most ardent campaign supporters — despite objections from the local chief of police. Soon after, he launched a politically motivated “investigation” into cash-strapped private nonprofits serving children.
The organizations had already provided all the necessary reporting for state grants they received, but Labrador served them with a demand to produce thousands of pages of unrelated and invasive documentation, including staff texts. This frivolous case will only harm our kids and waste precious state dollars.
Instead of safeguarding our freedoms, Labrador finds every possible opportunity to undermine them. He published an opinion arguing it is illegal for Idaho doctors to inform patients about their options for lawful abortions in other states. Such a gag order would subvert our right to freedom of speech. He rescinded the opinion without offering clarifying guidance for doctors, spurring another costly lawsuit against the state.
Most recently, Labrador signed onto a lawsuit seeking access to your private medical records for care you receive out of state, in his quest to prosecute abortions outside his jurisdiction.
Democrats are not alone in our alarm. More than 50 prominent Idaho Republicans — including former-Gov. Phil Batt and former-Secretary of State Ben Ysura — endorsed his Democratic opponent. Labrador’s level of dysfunction is just what these respected Republicans feared, if not worse.
Sitting Republican legislators are frustrated that Labrador refuses to deliver requested legal analysis — a service they relied upon for decades — and hired an out-of-state staffer lacking critical legal credentials for a top post. Republican representatives helped kill the proposed A.G. Office budget to communicate their discontent.
Meanwhile, the office has lost dozens of dedicated, experienced staff. In a resignation letter, one attorney warned of Labrador and his allies, “They instead appear intent on dismantling government, and doing so without regard for the people who believe in public service who fall in their wake.”
Labrador was ushered into office with big money from deep out-of-state pockets. Their goal seems to be positioning their far-right darling for higher office. We mustn’t allow one man’s political ambitions to undermine our rule of law, our freedoms or our right to functioning state agencies. Idahoans deserve better.
Rep. Lauren Necochea is the House assistant Democratic leader, representing District 19 in Boise on the Commerce and Human Resources; Environment, Energy and Technology; Revenue and Taxation; and Ways and Means committees.
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