Law enforcement members of new PAC blast McGeachin, Bundy as ‘extremists’ ‘threatening’ the future of the state

By Zach Hagadone
Reader Staff

A new political action committee called Defend and Protect Idaho is making headlines for its stance against what it calls “political extremism in Idaho,” with a specific message of opposition to the gubernatorial campaigns of Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin and anti-government activist Ammon Bundy.

Of course, that message isn’t new amid the run-up to the most hotly contested Republican primary in recent memory, but what sets Defend and Protect Idaho apart from similar groups is its membership: led by retired Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney, the PAC includes at least a dozen other former law enforcement officials from around the state, as well as military service members, faith leaders, small business owners, farmers and ranchers.

In a news release issued May 4 — and signed by nine former sheriffs, chief deputy sheriffs, police chiefs and deputy chiefs from Bonneville to Ada to Kootenai counties — the organization wrote to “condemn the actions of fringe extremists whose promotion of political violence threatens the rule of law, public safety and democratic governance in our communities.”

The statement was timed to coincide with a McGeachin campaign event at which she hosted Michelle Malkin, who Defend and Protect Idaho described as an “antisemitic blogger”; “white supremacist” Stew Peters; and “Putin-supporting” Arizona legislator Wendy Rogers, who along with McGeachin addressed the white nationalist America First Political Action Conference in Florida in February. 

“In the last several years, extremists have become emboldened to threaten our communities and even the law enforcement officers who protect us every day,” retired Ada County Sheriff Chief Deputy Scott Johnson stated in the May 4 release. “I’m speaking out because this cannot stand in Idaho.”

According to a report May 4 from the Idaho Capital Sun, the PAC has spent nearly $11,000 on digital media advertising on Facebook since mid-April, also spreading its message through the Facebook group Idahoans Against Extremism. Defend and Protect Idaho hosted a press conference May 3, during which a handful of its leading members — including Raney — underscored that the purpose of the group is “to restore civility, to restore common sense and to restore the rule of law by our elected officials in Idaho.”

Included in  the PAC’s statement issued May 4 was a list of actions committed by Bundy and his followers, “which McGeachin used for her own political gain.”

Those included a demonstration over a child protection case that resulted in the lockdown and disruption of operations at Idaho’s largest hospital; the doxxing and intimidation of doctors, CPS workers, judges, prosecutors and police officers; amplifying the call on social media by a Bundy campaign consultant to “eliminate” the Meridian police chief and two Ada County commissioners; and raking in more than $100,000 in online donations based on “lies, chaos and terror.”

“Janice McGeachin, Ammon Bundy and their followers manipulate Republican values like liberty and independence as weapons against police officers, ignoring the rule of law that keeps us safe,” Defend and Protect Idaho stated, adding that their actions are “un-American” and “bad for officers of the law, public servants and, ultimately, our society.”

Referring to the fellow law enforcement officials who signed the May 4 statement, Raney wrote that he is “pleased so many committed conservatives are joining me in speaking out to support the essential work of law enforcement and condemn fringe vigilantes like Janice McGeachin from threatening the future of our great state.”

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