The Primary Election is Tuesday, May 27!

Welcome to Walt Minnick for Congress

Walt Minnick. A U.S. veteran. Successful CEO of a thriving forestry company. Grew up on a wheat farm, where he learned the values of honesty, hard work and family. An outdoorsman who cherishes our natural resources and Idaho’s unique quality of life.

Walt Minnick’s life experience makes him well-suited to represent Idaho and break through the gridlock in Washington to get things done.

Walt Minnick offers lower gas prices while Bill Sali rubs elbows with big oil

A message from Walt

by Walt Minnick - November 06, 2008

I left the Election Night party just after midnight, unsure of whether I was going to win or lose. After a fitful night of sleep I awoke early on Wednesday to a slim lead and a handful of precincts left to count. By the time I got ready and drove back to the Boise hotel where my bleary-eyed staff had been up all night, the results were clear: We had done it.

We won.

I need to thank so many people but I want to start by thanking all of you, my friends, supporters and volunteers. You won this election. You were the reason we pulled it out and were able to claim a victory already being called “historic” by pundits and press alike.

However, as satisfying as this win was and is, the real work is about to begin. There is still a recession. People are still worried about their jobs. They are still worried about their homes. They are still worried about how they can afford college for their children.

These are still tough times.

That is why I am committed to the same approach I promised throughout the campaign. As your Congressman, I will reach across the aisle, find partners and collaborators, work as hard as I can to change Washington, D.C., and help move this country forward.

The last year has been amazing for A.K. and I, as well as for our family. We traveled a District that spreads from Nevada to Canada. We met thousands of proud Idahoans. We heard uplifting stories of all that’s great about our state, and tragic tales of the hardship so many people face today.

One story stands out. On a hot summer day I was walking back down Main Street in Emmett after spending the afternoon walking in the annual parade. I saw a woman sitting on the front porch of a run-down home. She said hello and I stopped to talk. She told me she was scared.

This woman was working two full-time jobs just to make ends meet, which was hard because neither job paid more than minimum wage. Gas was more expensive, food was more expensive and her employers were struggling, and she was having trouble making ends meet. Things were so bad that was worried she would be evicted from the home she had rented for more than 30 years.

That was a sobering day for me, and I will never forget it. That’s why I am humbled by the responsibility we now have to make this a better Idaho for her, for all of us. It is a responsibility I will honor by always working hard, by listening to every voice and by doing what’s right for Idaho. 
We did an amazing thing.

Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart. 

Why Walt deserves your vote on Tuesday

by John Foster - November 01, 2008

He’s a businessman. He is fiscally responsible. He is bipartisan. He is effective. He is a problem-solver. He is experienced. He is knowledgeable. He is right for Idaho.

A letter from a supporter

by John Foster - October 24, 2008

The Minnick for Congress campaign received this e-mail earlier this week. Republished here with permission from the letter-writer:

Dear Walt,

I am sure you get thousands of emails. I do hope you have a chance to read mine. I watched the debate last night and was very impressed by your performance there.

First, let me give you a little background. I am a registered Republican and generally vote in that direction, although, I feel like I am becoming more and more of an Independent ... 

I am a 43 year old network administrator living in Fruitland Idaho. I have a daughter in college and have all the same issues that any parent with a college student faces. I have watched my 401K which was not that big anyway, shrink to near nothing. I am very concerned about my family’s future …

As I watch the [presidential] debates, I see and hear very immature people that would like to run our country. The poor vocabulary, the snide remarks, etc just show that they are not leadership material.

I did not see that in you. I watched Sali make those remarks to you and you handled them like a leader …

I intend to vote for you because I believe that you have our best interests at heart and I admire your accomplishments in life. People that can accomplish what you have are few and far between. I wish that I were more like you in that respect.

My one concern with any candidate is that I would want them to run government as I would my family, by that I mean, if times are lean, we should cut extravagancies, if we don’t have the money, we go without, stay out of debt and live within our means.

I would like to see someone who would really try to eliminate the wasting of my tax dollars, they were hard earned, I have to make them stretch and I would like to see you do the same. I would like to see less government intervention in our lives because anytime the government implements a program, it costs money for you and I.

I am convinced that my voting for you is the right choice, please don’t let me down. I would like to vote for Ron Paul for the Presidential election as I think he has a lot of qualities that I see in you …

God Speed,
Steven

Lewiston Tribune: Sali fights big spending, some of the time

by John Foster - October 24, 2008

Another Lewiston Tribune editorial from the legendary Jim Fisher:

October 22, 2008

Rep. Bill Sali portrayed himself in a debate against challenger Walt Minnick Sunday evening as a tireless fighter against federal spending. But he’s no Ron Paul or Tom Coburn, two members of Congress whose “no” votes on big spending are more consistent. The U.S. House member from Idaho’s 1st District just has his own spending priorities.

Those priorities do not include safe bridges. Minnick criticized his vote against fixing them during the debate. The vote, which put Sali in another of the tiny minorities he often joins, passed the House 367-55. Included in the majority was Sali’s Republican seatmate in the House, 2nd District Rep. Mike Simpson.

As Minnick pointed out, federal highway authorities say more than two dozen bridges beneath Idaho highways are structurally deficient. And the bill Sali opposed will help target and fix the worst of them.

Neither do Sali’s priorities include sick children, especially the children of working poor people. They are the beneficiaries of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides health care to children of parents who work but neither receive insurance from their employers nor have the money to buy it.

When Sali voted against compromise legislation renewing SCHIP late last year, his vote not only differed from Simpson’s, but also from that of fellow conservative Cathy McMorris-Rodgers of Washington’s 5th District. At the time, McMorris-Rodgers called the compromise “a needed safety net to provide health insurance to those children who need it most.”

Sali charged that the bill “takes money from hard-working Americans while opening the door to provide health insurance to undocumented foreign nationals, including gang members, drug cartel operatives and terrorists.”

Yes, terrorists - aged from birth to 17 years.

Don’t conclude from these that Sali is a consistent critic of big spending, or even wasteful spending, though. Exhibit A in the case against that is his vote earlier this year for a $300 billion farm bill that continues huge subsidies to farmers enjoying the best crop prices in years, and provides those subsidies to couples making up to $1.5 million a year.

In his zeal to take money from hard-working Americans to turn over to wealthy farmers, Sali also supported the other two-thirds of the farm bill. Some of that was the usual pork going to pet projects in members’ districts, but much of it was money for food stamps and nutrition programs.

Is Sali prepared to say those stamps and those programs will not end up feeding undocumented foreign nationals, including gang members, drug cartel operatives and terrorists?

Of course not. But he’s willing to take that risk on legislation providing handouts to people who don’t need it. It’s legislation helping people who do need it that he won’t support. - J.F.

Non-voting delegates more effective than #423

by John Foster - October 23, 2008

We sent out a press release today reminding people about Bill Sali’s ineffectiveness as a Congressman. The anecdotal evidence abounds, but one non-partisan group actually has statistical evidence. Click here to read more.

New ad from Minnick for Congress

by John Foster - October 22, 2008

Walt endorsed by hunting/sportsmen group

by John Foster - October 17, 2008

Yesterday Walt was endorsed by the American Hunters and Shooters Association.

AHSA President Ray Schoenke announced:
“We are proud to endorse Walt Minnick, and give him an “A+” on gun issues and conservation issues.  As a gun owner and avid outdoorsman, Walt knows that you need both a gun and a place to hunt, so he will protect both our 2nd Amendment rights and our wild lands.  Walt knows the district, he knows its people and he knows its mountains. Walt gets it, and that is why we endorse him.”

From the AHSA website:
“A former Washington Redskin great and avid hunter who now runs a 300-acre hunting farm on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, Ray Schoenke is the president of the American Hunters and Shooters Association (AHSA).  Located in Maryland, AHSA is an organization committed to supporting the right to keep and bear arms, responsible gun ownership, and conservation.”

Sali and his Congressional/campaign staff

by John Foster - October 17, 2008

Earlier this week, Bill Sali and Walt Minnick took part in a candidate debate hosted by the Boise City Club. At one point, Walt highlighted elements of media reports on Sali’s Congressional office being outside the District and his use of his Congressional staff to run his campaign.

At right about the same time, the Huffington Post reported that the Congressman has three taxpayer-funded staffers working on his campaign.

An online Sali campaign roster, stamped “completely confidential,” lists Wayne Hoffman, Tina Jacobson and Jonathan Parker, respectively, as campaign media manager, North Idaho campaign director and campaign strategist.

“It amounts to mere minutes a day, a few days a week. It’s hard to take a leave of absence for five minutes a day,” [spokesman Wayne Hoffman] explained. (It should be noted that this one conversation itself lasted more than five minutes.)”

The web page of the “confidential” list has been pulled. But you can see a screenshot here

Minnick slams Sali for veterans votes

by John Foster - October 16, 2008

Bill Sali has a poor record on veterans issues. As Walt pointed out earlier this week at a campaign forum, that record does not match Sali’s campaign-year rhetoric.

SALI AND VETERANS

Missed a vote providing full funding for programs to help veterans with traumatic brain injuries. Sali skipped a vote on a bill co-sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA). The bill included programs helping to rehabilitate wounded soldiers returning from combat with brain injuries. (That includes an estimated two-thirds of those who injured.

Voted against G.I. education, benefits. Sali voted against a motion to concur amendments to appropriate $21.2 billion for domestic programs, military construction and foreign aid programs. The amendment would provide a permanent expansion of education benefits for post-Sept. 11 veterans, offset with a 0.47 percent surtax on modified adjusted gross income above $500,000 per year for individuals and $1 million for couples. The bill also increased benefits under the GI BILL to be paid in amounts linked to the amount of active duty served in the military after 9/11. Generally, veterans would receive some amount of assistance proportional to their service for 36 months, which equals four academic years.

Voted against help for veteran-owned small businesses. Sali voted against passage of the bill that would reauthorize the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs through fiscal 2010. The bill would give preference in awarding grants to businesses that are owned by veterans, located in areas with high unemployment or that have taken steps to increase energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.

Opposed budget with record increases for veterans. Conference report on the 2008 budget saved veterans from paying increased healthcare fees totaling $355 million in 2008 and $2.3 billion over five years. The President’s budget imposed those new enrollment fees and increases copayments. Click here to see the bill and click here to see the vote.

Budget was praised by veterans’ groups. The 2008 budget, which Sali voted against, was praised by several veterans’ groups. According to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the budget represented a “historic $6.7 billion increase” over the previous year’s budget.  According to the American Legion, “The American Legion and its 2.8 million members applaud ... the Fiscal Year 2008 Budget Resolution.” According to the Military Officers Association of America, “...the resolution makes a strong statement of Congress’s commitment to restoring national confidence that our wounded warriors will receive the kind of first-quality care and services that they have earned...”

Voted against bill with funding for veterans health. In March 2007, Sali voted against the Fiscal 2007 supplemental. The measure included $550 million to address the maintenance backlog at VA health care facilities to prevent situations similar to those at Walter Reed; $250 million for medical administration to ensure sufficient personnel to address the rising number of veterans and to maintain a high level of service; $229 million for treating the growing number of veterans; $100 million to allow the VA to contract with private mental healthcare providers to offer veterans, including Guard and reserve members, quality and timely care; and, $62 million to speed claims processing for returning veterans. 

Fact-checking Bill Sali

by John Foster - October 15, 2008

Bill Sali has become infamous for some of his outrageous comments: Abortions cause breast cancer. There are 40 barrels of oil in one tree. There are only 130 members of Congress who would be comfortable sitting in church pews. His pattern continued yesterday at a candidate forum hosted by the Meridian Chamber of Commerce.

Sali’s Claim: Alternative energy will take 25 to 30 years to get to full scale.
The Facts: Alternative energy is already being used right here in Idaho. U.S. Geothermal produces clean renewable energy for Idaho Power, and companies such as Coleman Oil in Lewiston are mixing biodiesel for sale around the northwest.

Sali’s Claim: “Much more serious than reaching across the aisle” was a system that drove “out deliberation, and drove out reaching across the aisle.”
The Facts:  There is deliberation and bipartisanship in Congress – Sali just refuses to participate. There are two examples in the past week. First, Sali skipped two oversight hearings into the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the bailout of AIG. Second, Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson was recently praised for his deliberations with a variety of groups and Congressmen with whom he does not always agree.

Sali’s Claim: A preliminary estimate found that federal requirements account for up to 40% of spending on transit projects.
The Facts: According to Sali’s own website, the potential costs he refers to comes from delays, not from federal requirements.

Sali’s Claim: A system ranking Sali 423 out of 435 for Congressional effectiveness was based on how many earmarks were obtained.
The Facts: According to Knowlegis, the top three criteria for determining the rankings are position, indirect influence and legislative activity. Earmarks obtained was only added this year when Congress voted to make the process more transparent – something Sali opposed.

Sali’s Claim: The cause of the financial crisis requiring recent “bailout” legislation was the “Community Reinvestment Act.”
The Facts: As Newsday points out, the claim is laughable on its face: That the collapse of Wall Street and the U.S. banking system can be blamed on loans to low-income people. In fact, most sub-prime loans were made by firms not even subject to the Act.

Sali’s Claim: Entitlements account for half of the federal budget.
The Facts: That is not accurate, according to the non-partisan group Facing Up to the Nation’s finances.

Sali’s Claim: Cap-and-trade programs are “dumb” and don’t “reduce emissions anywhere.”
The Facts: The websites of both Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama state that cap-and-trade programs have been successful in the past, and would be used specifically to reduce emissions. The Yale Forum on Climate Change cites bipartisan agreement on the effectiveness of the program.

Sali’s Claim: 80% of the paperwork burden on businesses comes from tax forms.
The Facts: In fact, the vast majority of business taxes are filed by tax professionals, according to the White House.

State’s largest newspaper endorses Walt

by John Foster - October 14, 2008

The Idaho Statesman on Sunday endorsed Walt Minnick in the race for the seat representing Idaho’s First District in the U.S. Congress.

From the editorial:
“Bill Sali’s command of the issues has matured over the past two years. But Sali has not matured into the job of representing Idaho in Congress. The Republican’s political instinct is to pander to his constituency’s fringes - even when the situation demands statesmanship and problem-solving. After a turbulent term in Congress, following a contentious 16 years in the Legislature, we’re convinced Sali is unable or unwilling to change. Democratic candidate Walt Minnick has the intelligence, the temperament and the rich life experience needed to change the tone of the dialogue. Minnick is best suited to represent Idaho in a time of economic tumult and global uncertainty, and earns our endorsement in the Nov. 4 election.”

The editorial also says:
“In an editorial board interview Monday, Sali made a reasoned argument against the financial markets bill, both the product and the process. ‘For crying out loud, we had two mind-bogglingly complex pieces of legislation that never had even one second of committee hearing time.’ Yet Sali skipped - and, through spokesman Wayne Hoffman, dismissed as “political grandstanding” - committee hearings into the troubled American International Group Inc. and Lehman Brothers.”

Click here to read the full editorial.

A day at the gun range

by John Foster - October 13, 2008

Minnick statement on Micron layoff

by John Foster - October 09, 2008

For immediate release

BOISE - Walt Minnick today issued the following statement on the news of Micron laying off workers at its Boise facility:

“We have all felt the impact of the current economic crisis in one way or another, but the news today is a stark and painful indication of the tough days yet to come. Unfortunately, as our economy deteriorated politicians in Washington, D.C. were asleep on the job, and did not take their oversight responsibilities seriously. And now their failure to watch over our economy has hit hard one of Idaho’s best companies. It’s high time for some business sense and more Idaho common sense in Congress so we can get our economy back on track and create new jobs for all those who lost theirs today.”

For more information or to interview Walt, please call the number below.
________________
John M. Foster
Communications Director
Minnick for Congress
208.559.3547 (c)

New ad from Walt Minnick for Congress

by John Foster - October 06, 2008

The ad features five Idaho Republicans talking about why they have chosen to support Walt Minnick instead of Bill Sali.

• The Hon. Vern Bisterfeldt is a retired Boise City Police officer, and as a Republican served multiple terms as an Ada County Commissioner. He is now a Boise City Councilor.

• Pat Pettiette is a former vice president at Washington Group International, and served as the manager for a U.S. Department of Energy project. He is a past donor to President George Bush and U.S. Senator Mike Crapo.

• J. Walter Sinclair is a prominent Idaho attorney. He is a past donor to the National Republican Congressional Committee, as well as to the campaigns of then-U.S. Sen. Dirk Kempthorne, Congressman Mike Simpson and presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

• Lt. Gen. James Thompson (U.S. Army, Ret.) commanded forces in the Middle East before retiring to serve as chief of staff for three consecutive mayors of Boise, all of them Republicans.

• Marilyn Locander is a third-generation Idaho Republican, a current or past board member for a host of non-profit organizations in southern Idaho, and has served as a treasurer for a Republican legislative campaign.

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing?

by John Foster - October 06, 2008

(For more on the title of this post, click here.)

Yesterday the Idaho Statesman released its voter guide. You can see the online version here. The print version in Sunday’s newspaper included snippets from recent endorsement interviews. Both Walt and Sali were asked: “What has been a turning point or a challenge in your adult life?” Walt talked about the day he resigned in protest from the Nixon White House during the Watergate scandal because the president had fired the Attorney General. Sali? Well, I’ll let him speak for himself on THE turning point in his adult life:

Bill Sali was assigned a book report in the fourth grade. Uncharacteristically, he blew it off. “I procrastinated,” Sali said. “When I didn’t get it done, I took an F.” It was the first and last ‘F’ Sali ever got, and it became a transforming experience for the future congressman. From that point on he always was a good student, and while he acknowledged that he dropped some classes in college because he took on too much class load, he never again failed. “It changed my focus,” Sali said in a telephone interview. “It was a turning point for me because I knew I had to be serious about things.”

Minnick statement on passage of bailout bill

by John Foster - October 03, 2008

Walt Minnick today issued the following statement on the U.S. House of Representatives passing the economic bailout bill:

“It’s been two weeks since Congress was asked to take responsible and immediate action to save Main Street and prevent a global depression. They were asked and advised to pass a bill with strong regulatory reforms and loans to shore up our struggling financial system. However, in yet another sign that the system in Washington is broken, the House today approved a bill that is simply not the answer. This bill is a giveaway to Wall Street. It does not do enough to protect the American taxpayer, and it adds far too much debt to our record deficit. This is fiscal recklessness, and so I continue to oppose this bill. I am strongly supportive of reducing taxes by offering credits for renewable energy, and I have been one of this state’s strongest advocates for extension of the Secure Rural Schools program. But the addition of those measures to a broken bill is yet another example of the failed system in Washington.”

---

Analysis from Minnick, a businessman running for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District:

- Action is required to shore up our struggling financial system, protect Main Street businesses and prevent a depression that would have a devastating impact on American taxpayers.

- The bailout bill passed today was the wrong answer to rescuing our failing financial system. If taxpayer dollars are required to keep the economy afloat, those dollars should go out in the form of loans to banks and financial institutions, and in the form of credit to buyers of distressed mortgage-backed bonds. Simply purchasing those bonds is not the answer.

- This bill contains no regulatory reforms to prevent from happening in the future the problems that got us here in the first place.

- This bill contains over $100 billion in new spending that is NOT paid for, and comes at a time when we are already facing the largest federal budget deficit in U.S. history.

- This bill is loaded with special-interest pork spending and earmarks, such as eliminating the excise tax on wood-arrow makers in Oregon. Pork spending is one of the worst problems in Washington, and a critical financial rescue is not the time to be handing out special-interest favors.
Congress has for two years ignored broad bipartisan support for continued tax relief for middle class families faced with paying the Alternative Minimum Tax. Their decision to put that off until the final moments of the last session before an election is one of the worst examples of the failed system in Washington.

- The Secure Rural School program is critical to the future of a host of Idaho schools and counties. It has become a political football, caught up in partisan bickering and sniping as local governments have struggled to make ends meet. As a Congressman, one of my highest priorities will be working collaboratively and quickly on a long-term solution. 

Another new poll in Idaho’s First Congressional District race

by John Foster - October 02, 2008

2nd poll shows Minnick increasing lead: Incumbent Congressman Bill Sali ‘one of the most vulnerable members of Congress’

Thursday, October 2, 2008
For immediate release

The Walt Minnick for Congress campaign today released another internal poll showing Minnick pulling ahead of Bill Sali in the race for Idaho’s First Congressional District.

The poll was completed by Harstad Strategic Research, a respected national firm with a client list that includes U.S. Senators Ken Salazar (Colorado), Barack Obama (Illinois) and Jack Reed (Rhode Island.)

“The horserace was 43% Minnick to 38% Sali earlier this month (Sept. 9-11), and the vote now stands at 44% Minnick to 38% Sali (Sept. 25-28) with both candidates now airing TV ads,” states a memo from Harstad. “Sali is without question one of the most vulnerable incumbents in Congress.”

The poll also found that a stunning 41 percent of voters had an unfavorable opinion of Sali.

Click here to download a copy of the polling memo.

For more information, contact John Foster by responding to this e-mail or by calling the number below.
________________
John M. Foster
Communications Director
Minnick for Congress
208.559.3547 (c)

Sandpoint paper exposes Sali abuse of taxpayer dollars

by John Foster - October 01, 2008

A highlight from the Sandpoint Reader story pasted below: “Even more problematically, according to multiple anonymous sources, members of Sali’s staff on multiple occasions, while being paid with public funds, on trips to conduct Congressional business, conducted Campaign activities ...”

Bill Sali: Maverick or Moron?
By John T. Reuter
For SPR
(Reprinted here with permission from the Sandpoint Reader)

First-term U.S. Congressman Bill Sali is perhaps the most independent-thinking politician in a state of independent-thinking politicians. Often his incorrigible desire to do whatever he thinks is right – or at least to do and say whatever he feels like at the moment – has gotten him into trouble.

Sometimes (okay, often) Sali’s willingness to buck authority and go with his gut has gotten him labeled a dummy, a moron or an idiot.

As when, to name one example, then Idaho Speaker of the House Bruce Newcomb infamously said of him, “That idiot is just an absolute idiot.”

This quote has been used (usually out of context) to attack Sali on numerous occasions – including this week in an email from the Idaho Democratic Party.

But, hey, what’s wrong with being called an idiot by one of the leaders of your party? Doesn’t it just underline your independence?

While the instance certainly does showcase the thumb-your-nose-at-authority style that defines Sali’s approach to politics, the trouble is that when you put the quote in context it becomes clear why Newcomb considered Sali an idiot.

Newcomb’s blow-up came after Sali, then a State Representative, insisted repeatedly on having a discussion about studies linking breast cancer to abortion. (For the record, no credible connection exists.)

Sali’s time in the Idaho Statehouse were filled with such instances of grandstanding – much to the apparent detriment of his political career. He was unceremoniously yanked from his only assignment as chairman of a committee and, for a short period of time, was removed from all of his committee assignments (a highly unusual step of chastisement).

Soon after these events, though, without ever changing his style, Sali won the Republican Primary and was elected a U.S. Congressman.

Before we go back to look at how Sali won that first election, and how he is trying to win this year, let’s examine a more recent example of Sali’s dogged independence and disregard for authority – regardless of the consequences.

During this year’s Idaho Republican State Convention, Congressman Sali made a splash by having his staff work the delegates and actively advocate for Idaho Republican Chairman Kirk Sullivan (Governor Butch Otter’s pick for the position) to be replaced by Eagle City Councilman Norm Semanko.

Politically, on the surface at least, it was a boneheaded move. Sali had little to gain from Semanko winning the chairmanship and, in helping him get it, Sali had to break one of the unspoken rules of Idaho Republican politics: the Governor gets to pick the State Chairman.

However, Sali, it seems, isn’t someone particularly concerned about politics or playing by the rules (unspoken or otherwise) – regardless of the consequences.

And make no mistake about it, there were consequences to his decision to challenge Governor Otter – or were there?

First, Sali was successful in getting Semanko elected. (For once, he wasn’t acting completely independently and actually had help from two other key elected officials, Idaho Superintendent Tom Luna and Idaho House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, but Sali and his staff were the key players in the outcome.) For Sali, this was clearly a positive outcome.

Not only did he get the chairman that he wanted, but he demonstrated his popularity among Idaho’s conservative Republican base (most of the delegates at the State Convention) and in demonstrating this support, strengthened it.

In understanding Bill Sali’s seemingly unlikely political rise it is important to understand his conservative supporters. They love his independence. They celebrate his independence. They’re thrilled to finally have a “real Republican” in office.

When they see Bill Sali standup against the Governor to demand that a more conservative State Chairman is elected, they get excited. This is what they’ve been waiting for.

We’ll talk more about these supporters in a few paragraphs, but first back to the drama initiated at the State Convention.

Some pundits have suggested (for example, the Idaho Statesman’s Dan Popkey and, I hate to admit it, me) that Otter would retaliate for Sali’s insubordination at the State Convention by not supporting him in the General Election. Not that he would ever directly say as much, but rather that Otter wouldn’t raise any money for the first-term congressman, who clearly desperately needed it (more on that later).

The thing is that Otter has never really raised money for Sali before – so it’s not exactly a loss for him to not start now. In fact, the entire Idaho Republican Establishment (as in the people who hold the purse strings) has never significantly financially supported Sali.

In 2006, when Sali first ran for his Congressional seat in Idaho’s First District, his relatively narrow victory was largely funded by the Club for Growth (an out-of-state, anti-tax organization), Sali taking on a significant amount of debt and ads purchased at the last minute by the National Republican Party.

As reported by the Reader at the time, at least a dozen significant Republican insiders were actually disappointed by the support for Sali coming in from the National Party.

One Republican staffer told the Reader, “Why not let him lose and let [Larry] Grant [his Democratic opponent] serve a term? We can easily win the seat back in two years.”

Several Republican operatives, who spoke with me for this article, evocated a similar sentiment in regards to this year’s election. Their logic generally went that it would be easier to deal with a Democrat, who could be dumped after a couple of years, than to continue indefinitely with someone who is apparently so devoted to not being a team player.

Ultimately, as you hopefully have figured out by now, in 2006 Sali won and, while the out-of-state funding and into-debt spending helped, ultimately the key to victory (particularly in the primary) were those ardent supporters I mentioned earlier.

You see, the people who loved Bill Sali’s in-your-face independence were the same people who make up much of the Idaho Republican Party’s foot soldiers. They’re the people who lick stamps and knock on doors.

They wanted Bill Sali and, in a crowded six-way primary, this vocal minority was able to get him to the General Election. In Idaho, as we all know, getting the ‘R’ behind your name is half the battle. Having enthusiastic volunteers ready throughout the District to spread the word and show up on Election Day was the other half Sali needed.

Perhaps if Bill Sali had been embraced by the Republican Establishment earlier in 2006, he would have shed some of his independence, opting instead to work and learn from his more experienced colleagues in D.C.

Instead, from the moment he was sworn in, Sali was as brash as ever.

At first, perhaps mistaking his brashness for know-how, his fellow inexperienced Republican Congressmen elected him President of their small Freshman Class.

Soon after briefly playing with being part of a team –even leading it – Sali returned to his grandstanding ways.

One of the first bills he introduced was to outlaw gravity. Next he criticized a Muslim colleague for taking his oath on the Koran.

Early in his term, Sali also introduced a pair of bills aimed at reforming the way that Congress worked. In introducing the bills, Sali stated that things were easier to understand in the Idaho Legislature than in the U.S. Congress.

His two proposals would have made the process more like the one he was familiar with from the Idaho House. It’s easy to see this as an honest attempt at reform, but it is equally easy to see it as accusing the system of being too complex rather than taking responsibility for learning it.

Sali’s staff has largely followed their boss’ lead in being slow to learn the ropes. Months after he was elected, according to sources close to his office, they still had difficulty adding a new staff member to payroll and were having difficulty running the Congressional software to sort and respond to mail.

Current campaign staffers (who are essentially identical to his Congressional staffers) have blamed the Federal Election Commission for errors they made in their financial filings and the fact that they turned them in well past the deadline.

The Sali Campaign has also blatantly disobeyed the spirit of Campaign Finance Law and likely the letter of the law as well.

Recently, much has been made of Sali’s Boise Congressional and Campaign Offices because they are located outside of the District he represents. What has been missing from these reports is the close proximity of the offices to the Idaho State Republican Party Office (they’re in the same building).

The Campaign Office was just opened in August. Prior to its opening, according to sources close to the campaign, the State Headquarters was used frequently by the Sali campaign – most likely as the primary place to plan campaign activities.

This is an issue because it could represent an illegal donation of resources funded by “dirty” money (i.e. funds not subjected to Federal Campaign Finance laws).

Even more problematically, according to multiple anonymous sources, members of Sali’s staff on multiple occasions, while being paid with public funds, on trips to conduct Congressional business, conducted Campaign activities – delivering promotional materials to potential supporters.

If this is true (and I believe it to be) this is the equivalent of having taxpayers pay campaign expenses.

On the face, these actions suggest a lack of competency. However, I think there is another compelling possibility: Sali and his staff simply don’t care about Federal Campaign Finance Laws. They have always been fiercely independent and happy to pick a fight with the Establishment.

If they happen to break the rules, it’s not because they’re doing anything immoral. Instead, it must just be a dumb rule that shouldn’t be there in the first place.

In an odd way, even with what are likely rampant violations of Campaign Finance Law, Bill Sali’s integrity as a voice of independence remains intact. After all, he wasn’t elected to follow D.C.’s rules (written and unwritten), but to break to them – and, for better or worse, whether out of incompetence or moxie, break them he has.

John T. Reuter is the Reader’s Managing Publisher. He is actively involved in Idaho Republican Politics. He writes this article as a pundit/analyst/etc., not a journalist.

Sali Debt Watch: FINAL DAY

by John Foster - September 30, 2008

Will Bill Sali pay off his $125,673 bill?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Federal Election Commission campaign finance deadline is midnight tonight, and the question remains: Will Bill Sali pay what he owes?

Learn more about Sali’s debts here, find information about Sali’s FEC reports here and read about Sali’s “cash-only” consultant here.

DEBT TIDBITS:

Did you know that Bill Sali still owes $27,464 to a company called Blue Point Consulting, even though the company’s work was completed two years ago? Blue Point also did work in 2006 for Club for Growth, the same group funding hundreds of thousands of dollars in “independent” expenditures on Sali’s behalf that year. The relationship between Blue Point, the Club for Growth and candidates was the subject of a series of FEC complaints.

Did you know Sali still owes over $12,000 in back pay to his staff from the 2006 campaign? Click here to see the list, which includes family members who were collecting salaries from the campaign.

Did you know that Bill Sali’s ongoing debts to corporations are likely violations of federal campaign finance laws? Click here and read page 121. Sali owes thousands to Blue Point Consulting, SPARTAC and Hammond and Associates, a Republican fundraising firm.

Did you know that the last time Bill Sali made a payment on his campaign debt was almost six months ago?

Did you know that Sali’s spokesman misrepresented Sali’s debt to the press? When Sali’s campaign finance reports were late and withheld from public scrutiny, Sali’s spokesman first claimed that Sali had paid off half the debts, then claimed that Sali had paid off $10,000 in debt. When final version of the report was finally filed, the debt was unchaged.
________________
John M. Foster
Communications Director
Minnick for Congress
208.559.3547 (c)

Sali Debt Watch and Tidbit: 2 Days Left!

by John Foster - September 29, 2008

Will Bill Sali pay off his $125,673 bill?

DEBT TIDBIT OF THE DAY: Sali still owes $27,464 to a company called Blue Point Consulting, even though the company’s work was completed two years ago. Why might Blue Point let a client like Sali avoid paying off debt? Perhaps it’s because Blue Point also did work in 2006 for Club for Growth, the same group funding hundreds of thousands of dollars in “independent” expenditures on Sali’s behalf that year. In fact, the cozy relationship between Blue Point, the Club for Growth and candidates was the subject of a series of complaints to the Federal Elections Commission.

- Read about Sali’s financial troubles here.
- Read about Sali’s “cash-only” consultant here.
- Read about Sali’s spokesman claiming his boss had paid his debts here.
- Read about Sali’s problems with campaign finance laws here.

Walt would have voted ‘no’ on the bailout bill

by John Foster - September 29, 2008

Walt Minnick today issued the following statement on today’s failed vote in Congress on the so-called “bailout bill.”

“I’ve spent the last 24 hours reviewing the final bill, and I agree with the 228 Democrats and Republicans who rejected it. We need action, but this was the wrong bill to save the American economy.  As a businessman, I understand the clear and urgent need for Congress to act to save our financial system, and - unlike my opponent - I understand the economics behind it. But the bill voted down today was another example of a broken U.S. Congress. It was written to please politicians, not to protect America’s economy. I urge Congressional leaders to stay in session, act quickly and craft a bill Americans can support.”

What does Walt support?

- No “golden parachutes” for CEOs or bailouts for shareholders. Any company wishing to participate in the rescue program must renegotiate the contracts of their CEOs to eliminate any other-than-normal salary payouts upon the CEO’s termination.

- Loans, not buyouts for troubled banks. The government should not buy out those bad assets, but should instead offer short-term loans to banks taking taxpayer funds. Those banks that do not or cannot repay in a timely fashion would be foreclosed and the assets sold. 

Evening news roundup

by John Foster - September 28, 2008

The big news of the week has been the debate in Washington, D.C., over the economy. Tonight it looks as though Congressional leaders have reached a bipartisan compromise. You can read about it here.

The big recent story for the Minnick for Congress campaign appeared last week in Roll Call, the must-read newspaper of Capitol Hill. The site is only accessible with a password, but here’s a choice snippet: Maybe Rep. Bill Sali (R-Idaho) enjoys the suspense. The freshman hails from one of the most conservative states in the country and is running for re-election in a presidential year in a district that President Bush won in 2004 with 69 percent. But his victory against wealthy businessman Walt Minnick (D) in the 1st district, while likely, is hardly guaranteed.

We are also very excited by KTVB’s analysis of our recent ad criticizing Bill Sali’s poor financial record. Their verdict on our claims? True, true, true and true.

Next, you might have read the major Associated Press story earlier this month about Walt and Bill Sali. (It’s still available here.) The Idaho Statesman provides the “bio boxes” accompanying that story, and it’s interesting to see the “best quotes” from each person. Walt’s quote is about the need for less regulation by government. Sali’s quote is ... about Walt.

Maybe it’s because he’s rattled. I mean, he can’t even get the fellow members of Idaho’s delegation to include Sali’s name on their joint press release.

Next, two great quotes I missed in previous posts. Steve Crump, a columnist in the Twin Falls Times-News, had this to say about a study ranking how “outgoing” states are when compared to each other. “Idaho didn’t make the top 10 in any category, but it had the sixth-lowest score in the whole U.S. of A. in extroversion … It’s not bad enough that we suffer Bill Sali, the third-highest gas prices in the country, and the University of Idaho and Idaho State University football programs? Now we’re Howard Hughes.”

Wow.

The second comes from the incomparable Marty Trillhaase, editorial writer for the Idaho Falls Post-Register, who wrote about Sali’s attempt to shoo others from the U.S. Senate race: “Sali, a Republican, is locked in a tight re-election battle against Democrat Walt Minnick. Where does he find the time – or the nerve – to dictate who can run for office?”

Finally, if you have some time you can hear Walt’s recent appearance on KBOI by clicking here.

Sali Debt Watch and Tidbit: 3 Days Left!

by John Foster - September 28, 2008

Just three days left for Bill Sali to pay back more than $125,000 in debts owed by his campaign.

DEBT TIDBIT OF THE DAY: Did you know Sali still owes over $12,000 in back-pay to his staff from the 2006 campaign? Click here to see the list.

Sali debt tidbit of the day

by John Foster - September 27, 2008

DEBT TIDBIT OF THE DAY: Did you know that Bill Sali’s ongoing debts to corporations are likely violations of federal campaign finance laws? Click here and read page 121. 

Sali Debt Watch: 4 days for Bill to pay his bills

by John Foster - September 27, 2008

Will Bill Sali pay off his $125,673 bill?
Saturday, September 27, 2008

The next Federal Election Commission campaign finance deadline is at midnight on September 30, and Idahoans are wondering: Will Bill Sali pay what he owes?

Sali’s financial troubles are well documented. He’s more than $125,000 in arrears from his 2006 Congressional campaign, his top consultant insists that Sali pay cash up-front, his spokesman has also misrepresented Sali’s debt to the press, and his FEC reports are a mess.

Sali debt tidbit of the day

by John Foster - September 26, 2008

Did you know that the last time Bill Sali made a payment on his campaign debt was almost six months ago?

Sali Debt Watch: 5 days for Bill to pay his bills

by John Foster - September 26, 2008

The next Federal Election Commission campaign finance deadline is the end of the day on September 30, and the question on everyone’s mind: Will Bill Sali pay what he owes?

Sali’s financial troubles are well documented. He’s more than $125,000 in arrears from his 2006 Congressional campaign, and his top consultant insists that Sali pay cash up-front.

Sali’s spokesman has also misrepresented Sali’s debt to the press. When Sali’s campaign finance reports were late and withheld from public scrutiny, Sali’s spokesman first claimed that Sali had paid off half the debts, then claimed that Sali had paid off $10,000 in debt. When final version of the report was finally filed, the debt was unchaged. (Compare his May Report to his July Report.)

- Learn more about Sali’s debts here.
- Find information about Sali’s FEC reports here.
- Read about Sali’s “cash-only” consultant here.

Yesterday’s editorial in the Lewiston Tribune

by John Foster - September 25, 2008

No time to put ideology over the economy
Jim Fisher
Lewiston Tribune
Wednesday, September 24, 2008

You need not be an ideologue of the hard right or the far left to find plenty to complain about in Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s audaciously expensive plan to stave off a meltdown of the nation’s economy. But there is one thing that is certainly worse, and that is the meltdown.

That is why most members of Congress will vote to approve something very close to Paulson’s proposal in the coming days. Those who do not will expose themselves as people willing to take any risk to remain true to their beliefs.

U.S. Rep. Bill Sali of Idaho’s 1st District signaled he might be one of those people when he joined 30 of his fellow members of the House’s right-wing Republican Study Group Thursday in opposing bailouts. In a letter to Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, the group said “the risk to taxpayers and to the long-term future health of our economy remain just too great to justify.”

Paulson and Bernanke - who know the nation’s economy and markets better than Sali, if not all the letter’s signers - say the greater risk is on the other side. If the government does not act, they say, the financial structure through which money moves could collapse, potentially causing a depression.

That is enough to cause two other members of Idaho’s all-Republican congressional delegation, Sen. Mike Crapo and Rep. Mike Simpson, as well as Sali’s Democratic challenger, businessman Walt Minnick, to respond much differently from Sali.

“This is one of the most serious threats I have seen the nation face - outside of the terrorist threat - in my lifetime,” Crapo says. “I take it that seriously.”

Simpson, who tangled with Sali as speaker of the Idaho House of Representatives, asks pointedly of his colleague:

“What’s his answer: to let the economy go down?”

That is the question Sali must answer for himself - and for voters - this week. While people from both extremes of the political spectrum rail against a plan to buy up to $700 billion in bad or questionable debt, markets around the world teeter.

Trusting essentially one man, Paulson, to stabilize them is asking a lot, but Minnick says if anyone can do it, his old friend and fishing partner Paulson can.

And remember, Paulson and Bernanke are far from the only wise market veterans to support the plan.

“It’s what I would do if I were there,” investor Warren Buffett told CNBC over the weekend. His fellow billionaire T. Boone Pickens said Monday he was “ready to go along” with the proposal as well.

Most members of Congress, of both parties, will soon be ready too. If Sali is not among them, he will have to point to more than ideology to explain his vote. - J.F.

Evening news roundup

by John Foster - September 24, 2008

A very busy news day.

First, if you haven’t yet seen it, check out KTVB’s “fact check” of the four points we make about Bill Sali in the new campaign ad, which can be seen by scrolling down this blog. Even though the Sali campaign complained about the ad, KTVB’s findings? True, true, true and true. Take a few minutes and watch the story here.

Next, check out a great story about the Minnick/Sali race by Northwest Public Radio. The story received great airtime on the Boise, Moscow and Coeur d’Alene NPR stations. You can listen to the entire piece here.

The Eye on Boise blog at the Spokesman-Review site reported on the new poll showing Walt ahead of Sali by five percentage points. Politico, one of the more popular websites in D.C. has the story, too.

But of course the big news of the day was the economy. The Idaho Business Review—my old newspaper—did an informal survey of local business folks to get their take on the proposed rescue plan. Common sentiment: Go slow. And, as the Idaho Statesman put it, don’t use the economic situation as an excuse for political spin. Bill Sali, they’re talking to you.

That doesn’t mean everyone agrees on what to do, even within a political party. In fact, the disagreement between Sali and Rep. Mike Simpson—who really is a hell of a good guy, someone MOST PEOPLE can agree and disagree with without rancor—is exhibit A, according to one site: The Hill newspaper, a Capitol Hill publication that tracked the fallout from the scandal, unearthed several similar circumstances, including a fascinating Republican-versus-Republican divide that a Democrat took advantage of in Idaho. Republican Congressman Mike Simpson had publicly criticized the other Republican congressman from Idaho, Bill Sali, for making irresponsible statements regarding the bailout proposal. Speaking of Sali, one of the most extreme members of the Republican congressional caucus, Simpson told an Idaho paper, “Sometimes Bill puts himself in a philosophical position that’s untenable that he can’t get off of.” An amused Walt Minnick, the Democrat who is challenging Sali in a district where Democrats have begun to show signs of viability, announced that he agreed with Simpson—exploiting an opening to attract sensible Republicans to his campaign.

The Associated Press has a report on a Bill Sali press conference call yesterday where he advocated a firm position on what should not be in the proposed plan, while also making it clear that he had no real plan of his own. The quote from the Minnick campaign: Minnick also opposes the idea of handing Wall Street a blank check and supports amendments that would bar executives who made mistakes from getting lucrative exit bonuses, campaign spokesman John Foster said. “No one likes the idea of a bailout,” Foster said, “but you can’t always let ideology get in the way of doing what you think is best for the country. We need people who are focused on a solution right now.”

The Lewiston Tribune writes about the same conference call, and quotes the Minnick campaign as follows: John Foster, Minnick’s communications director, said Minnick spent more than 20 years in industry, including 16 years as head of a major forest products company. During that time, he learned emergencies are best handled by focusing on the problem and not worrying about who gets credit for the fix. “This economic crisis is yet another example of how Washington is broken,” Foster said. “Years of inaction have put us in a position where we have to make a quick decision on something that will have great impact on American families. If Walt were in Congress now, he wouldn’t be sending out press releases or espousing a bunch of things that we can’t do. You’d see him right in the middle of things, working with members of both parties to find a solution.”

Finally, an amazing—and slightly profane—write-up from Swing State Project on the race for Idaho’s First Congressional District. The piece nails point after point after point after point in describing just how Bill Sali went from unpopular legislator to even more unpopular candidate to wildly unpopular incumbent representative facing a very tough re-election fight. They also had nice things to say about Walt: Combined with a top-notch Democratic candidate who has run a flawless campaign, polling showing a competitive contest, and an environment which (even post-Palin) is still hostile for Republican incumbents, we feel compelled to upgrade this race to “Lean Republican”. For an R+19 seat, it’s not a decision we undertake lightly, but it’s a decision we feel is supported by all the available evidence, and one we’re comfortable making.

Republicans supporting Walt Minnick - Lewiston Tribune

by John Foster - September 23, 2008

Jim Fisher had another spot-on editorial in Sunday’s edition of the Lewiston Tribune.

Republicans for Walt - Democrat for Bill
Jim Fisher
Sunday, September 21, 2008

Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Sali and Democratic challenger Walt Minnick each says Idahoans of the opposing party support his candidacy.

Minnick points to a list of 60 names.

Sali points to one.

But there are plenty more than that one - Benewah County Commissioner Jack Buell - Sali spokesman Wayne Hoffman says. They just don’t want their names revealed.

That makes you wonder why such Republicans as Gary Michael, former Albertsons CEO and onetime interim University of Idaho president, and Jerry Evans, four-term superintendent of Idaho schools, would be willing to have their names listed among the Republicans for the incumbent’s Democratic challenger.

“He’s been a terrific businessman and I think he’d be a good advocate for Idaho,” Michael says of former Trus Joist CEO Minnick, “and so I’m supporting him.”

“I’ve known Walt for quite some time,” Evans tells Betsy Z. Russell of the Spokesman-Review, explaining that Minnick “just kind of lines up with what I think we ought to be doing.”

Hoffman describes the group of GOP Minnick supporters as a “gimmick.” If it is, though, it boasts plenty of well-known names.

In addition to Michael and Evans, the roster includes John Bennett of Bennett Forest Industries at Grangeville and his wife, Susan; former College of Idaho President Robert Hendren; former Bonneville Power Administration chief Peter Johnson; former Hewlett-Packard executive Ray Smelek and his wife, Cathy; and former legislator Chris Hooper.

Why would so many prominent Republicans go on record supporting a Democrat over the incumbent House member from Idaho’s 1st District? Don Soltman, vice president of Kootenai Medical Center at Coeur d’Alene, says this of Sali:

“I think he’s just too far to the right, and that type of posture doesn’t serve us well when you’re trying to work in more of a bipartisan way. I don’t think you can get stuff done in Washington without compromise and reaching across the aisle.”

Reaching across the aisle is not only something Sali shuns, but as an Idaho legislator he alienated many of his fellow Republicans. In addition to the well-publicized cases of former House Speaker Bruce Newcomb and former Gov. Phil Batt, the conservative chairwoman of the House Revenue and Taxation Committee referred to Sali as a “bully.”

Dolores Crow did admit two years ago, however, that she would “probably hold my nose” and vote for Sali.

Despite all this, and Sali’s lagging in fundraising behind his challenger, Hoffman insists that plenty of Democrats back Sali’s re-election.

“We hear from people all the time who are loyal Democrats, don’t like Walt Minnick, don’t like his position on issues and find they have more support on the things they care about from Bill,” Hoffman says.

And so far, the list begins, and ends, with Jack Buell. - J.F.

New poll in Idaho’s First Congressional District race

by John Foster - September 23, 2008

A new poll by Harstad Strategic Research shows Walt Minnick leading the incumbent in the race for Idaho’s First Congressional District. The poll shows Minnick with a 43-38 advantage, and found that 52 percent of the registered voters polled rated Rep. Bill Sali’s job performance at “fair” or “poor.” The pollster wrote that Sali is “uniquely vulnerable” in his race against Walt Minnick. Click here for more. 

New ad from Minnick for Congress

by John Foster - September 22, 2008

Lewiston Tribune story on candidates views of energy solutions

by John Foster - September 19, 2008

This story appeared in today’s Lewiston Tribune:

Idaho congressional candidates score points for energy policies
Incumbent Bill Sali, challenger Walt Minnick pick up endorsements

By William L. Spence
Friday, September 19, 2008

Two Idaho congressional candidates were honored this week by groups at opposite ends of the energy policy spectrum.

U.S. Rep. Bill Sali, R-Idaho, was named a “Friend of the American Motorist” for his support of expanded domestic oil drilling and his opposition to increased taxes for oil and gas companies. At the same time, Walt Minnick, a Democrat challenging Sali for Idaho’s 1st Congressional District seat, was endorsed by a group that supports clean energy solutions and environmental stewardship.

Sali’s award came from Americans for Prosperity, a group that supports free markets, limited government and limited taxation. It was based on his perfect voting record supporting AFP positions on eight different energy bills, including three that proposed raising taxes or eliminating tax breaks for energy firms and others that would expand offshore oil drilling or allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

“By voting against tax hikes on U.S. energy (companies) and supporting expanded production here in America, Rep. Sali chose to represent the interests of American motorists,” said AFP President Tim Phillips in a news release. “Our scorecard shows that he has a solid and consistent track record of supporting legislation that will decrease our dependence on foreign oil.”

Minnick’s endorsement came from the League of Conservation Voters, a group that supports energy conservation, higher vehicle mileage standards and development of alternative energy sources.

“Walt Minnick’s experience as a business leader gives him the tools to reach across the aisle and work on meaningful, bipartisan measures that keep Idaho and the West a great place to live,” said LCV President Gene Karpinski in a news release. “He will be an important voice for legislation to end our addiction to oil and invest in alternatives. Idaho deserves a representative who will create new jobs for its citizens, instead of stuffing the pockets of Big Oil.”

Despite the opposing views of these two organizations, Minnick and Sali seem to share a number of opinions about how to address America’s energy future. Both, for example, support additional drilling - although they differ on where that drilling should take place - and both say alternative fuels and conservation have a role to play

Sali is a proponent of the “all of the above” energy strategy that House Republicans and Republican presidential candidate John McCain have been pushing in recent months. The plan lays out a multi-pronged approach to meeting the country’s energy needs, including expanded domestic oil and gas production, conservation, support for alternative and renewable energy sources, and development of unconventional energy sources such as oil shale.

“I want a federal energy policy that creates an environment that lets people pursue all of these options,” Sali said in a recent town hall meeting in Moscow. “The government shouldn’t be involved in picking winners and losers. We have to conserve - there’s no excuse for wasting energy - but conservation isn’t enough. We can’t get plastics and asphalt and other products from solar cells, (so) we also need additional crude oil supplies. We don’t have a shortage of resources, we just have a shortage of will to get it.”

He also opposes removing oil company tax breaks because he thinks it would lead to lower production and higher prices.

“The idea that increasing taxes on oil companies will lead to decreased prices - does anyone believe that?” he asked.

Minnick’s multi-pronged approach to energy policy includes tax incentives and spending to “jump-start” alternative energy sources and help commercialize new technologies. He also supports expanded drilling, although “where I want to drill first is the places where we can get new supplies the quickest,” he said. This includes older oil fields and wells that may have been capped at a time when they were uneconomical, as well as Alaska’s 23 million-acre National Petroleum Reserve, located about 200 miles west of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

“These are areas where we’ve already made the policy decision that drilling is appropriate,” Minnick said. “There are also some places we shouldn’t drill because of their environmental values. Those places should be last on the list because they’re the most controversial and because litigation would tie them up for years. I’m interested in what we can do to get (new) supplies quickly.”

Another sign that Walt Minnick is on the path to victory

by John Foster - September 19, 2008

Very big news yesterday from the Cook Political Report, which has upgraded Walt’s chances of winning in November. It’s the second time this year the Cook Report has done the upgrade. The Cook Political Report is a non-partisan reporting and analysis publication that offers independent ratings on Congressional races around the country. Click here to see a chart of races around the country. Here’s what the Cook Report had to say about Idaho:

“Despite this district’s very serious GOP bent, Republicans admit that Sali himself is the biggest issue in his reelection race. Sali was recently criticized for pressuring non-major party candidates to exit the Senate race, and has taken to holding yard sales to bankroll his shoestring campaign. Meanwhile, Democrats say businessman and 1996 Senate nominee Walt Minnick has a down-home image that will sell and a much more serious campaign than Larry Grant’s 2006 effort. But Minnick’s image doesn’t matter as much as Sali’s, and private polls continue to show his favorability upside-down ... Once again, Republicans are extremely nervous about a district that they shouldn’t have to lose sleep over.”

Another piece highlights bipartisan support for Walt Minnick

by John Foster - September 17, 2008

Today’s Spokesman-Review has a story detailing the growing movement of bipartisan support for Walt’s congressional campaign against our ineffective, embarrassing incumbent, Bill Sali. Idahoans from across the political spectrum are supporting Walt. Here are a couple snippets from today’s piece, which you can read by going here:

“I’ve known Walt for quite some time,” said Jerry Evans, a Republican who was elected four times as Idaho’s state superintendent of schools. “As I listen to him talk about children’s health issues and public school issues and balancing the federal budget and doing some things for the middle class with regard to tax cuts, he just kind of lines up with what I think we ought to be doing.”

...

Gary Michael, former CEO of Albertsons and former interim president of the University of Idaho, has been a donor to GOP political causes for many years, including campaign contributions to the Idaho Republican Party, Helen Chenoweth, Larry Craig and John McCain. “I know Walt well and I’ve given him some money,” said Michael, who’s among the 60 on Minnick’s list. “He’s been a terrific businessman and I think he’d be a good advocate for Idaho, and so I’m supporting him.”

...

Don Soltman, a prominent Coeur d’Alene resident who works as the vice president of Kootenai Medical Center, said he’s been a lifelong Republican, but he doesn’t care for Sali. “I think he’s just too far to the right, and that type of posture doesn’t serve us well when you’re trying to work in more of a bipartisan way,” he said. “I don’t think you can get stuff done in Washington without compromise and reaching across the aisle.”

Support from across the political spectrum

by John Foster - September 15, 2008

The Idaho Statesman today has an interesting write-up on the cross-over support Walt Minnick is accumulating in his race against incumbent Bill Sali. The story highlights Republicans for Minnick, an effort by more than 60 people who are convinced that Walt is the right person to represent Idaho and help fix the broken system in Washington. From the story:

“In my opinion, Bill Sali is not effective in Congress and Idaho needs effective representation,” said [John] Bennett, who separates his personal political support from that of the company. “Walt is the kind of person who can work with Democrats and Republicans and is the kind of person who can get more done for the state.”

Read the entire story here.

Minnick statement on 9/11

by Walt Minnick - September 11, 2008

My thoughts on this seventh anniversary of the terrorist attacks are with the families of all the victims. But I can’t help but take a special moment of silence for the public servants and members of the military who lost their lives at the Pentagon that fateful day. As a young man I was privileged to spend part of my military service in that building, and I have never forgotten the teamwork, dedication, honor and patriotism of those I worked with. Our nation lost thousands of brave Americans of every race, creed, color and religion on September 11, 2001, including 184 brave men and women at the Pentagon who embodied the very best of this great country. As a Congressman, I will work to ensure the safety of all Americans, and will remain resolved to keep our nation and our military strong to prevent such an atrocity from every happening again and to honor those who gave their lives in the service of this nation.

Walt endorsed by the Blue Dog Coalition

by John Foster - September 09, 2008

The Blue Dog Coalition was founded 13 years ago by conservative Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives who felt “choked blue” by the extremes in both political parties. As the Coalition has grown, they’ve become known for a tough stance on fiscal policy, demanding accountability and a renewed focus on balancing the budget.

Well, we’re pleased today to say that Walt Minnick has been endorsed by the Blue Dog Coaltion. On a conference call today, Rep, Mike Ross (D-Arkansas) said that dozens of candidates ask for the endorsement each election cycle. This year it’s been awarded to only nine, and Walt is among them.

From the press release: “As a successful business owner and former U.S. Army Lieutenant, Walt Minnick knows how important it is for the federal government to pass responsible policies that protect our economy and provide for a strong national defense,” said Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR), Blue Dog Co-Chair for Communications.  “There is no group in Congress that is more united, more policy-oriented, or that works harder than the Democratic Blue Dog Coalition, and we are proud to offer Walt Minnick our endorsement today.”

Learn more about the Blue Dog Coalition here

Who writes Bill Sali’s website?

by John Foster - September 08, 2008

Is it him, or does he just copy and paste from other folks?

Unequivocal Notion and Mountain Goat Report are both on the case. You’ll be shocked—SHOCKED, I tell ya—by the answer to the above question. 

New campaign spot from Walt Minnick for Congress

by John Foster - September 02, 2008

Representing all of Idaho

by John Foster - August 30, 2008

Throughout the summer, Walt and the campaign team have spent most weekends at one county fair or another. Many of them have been in the counties loosely known as North Idaho.

One of the most recent trip was to the North Idaho Fair in Kootenai County, where a couple of things stood out.

First, regardless of party, people told Walt they were concerned about the high cost of gas, how to solve our energy problems, education and our health care system. And also, regardless of party, people proposed generally the same solutions to those problems. It’s not the issues which divide us—it’s the labels.

Second, Walt heard over and over last weekend a refrain he’s heard from the beginning of this campaign: When you win, don’t forget North Idaho. Don’t forget the unique and desperate highway needs, the pressing needs in funding for higher education, and the urgent need for a new approach to forest management.

It’s no secret that North Idaho get less attention than does the Treasure Valley. That doesn’t make it right, or acceptable.

“Our northern counties and communities often do get the short end of the stick,” Walt said after the North Idaho fair. “Folks up there don’t let me forget that they are ready again for a real representative who remembers the needs of the entire district, not just the needs of Boise.”

Walt’s statement on selection of Idaho native Sarah Palin

by John Foster - August 30, 2008

Idaho First Congressional District candidate Walt Minnick released the following statement August 29 on the selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as the running mate for U.S. Sen. John McCain:

“This is an exciting and surprising day for Idaho,” Minnick said. “Although many of us had expected to see Gov. Mitt Romney on the Republican ticket, I join other Idahoans in offering sincere congratulations to Gov. Sarah Palin, a native daughter and alumnus of one of our state’s great universities. Her reputation as a champion of reform and enemy of corruption sends yet another message that people from both parties are ready for change in Washington, D.C.”

Recent news on Walt’s race for Congress

by John Foster - August 26, 2008

* Analysis from Congressional Quarterly
These are the dog days of summer, and with convention fever upon us you’d think that’d mean a lack of in-depth looks at races around the country. Thank God for us CQ is on the case. They had this to say earlier this week: “Democrats, nonetheless, are staging one of their most vigorous bids for a congressional seat since their last House incumbent, Larry LaRocco, was ousted in 1994. Walt Minnick, a local businessman who was his party’s nominee in the 1996 Senate race, is staging a long-shot but competitive bid in one of Idaho’s two House districts.”

* Walt canvasses ... Republicans?
At the North Idaho Fair, a friend of Spokesman-Review blogger Dave Olivera snapped a photo of Walt campaigning at the Kootenai County Republican Party booth. (Walt is a Democrat. But, as we like to say, he’s a conservative Democrat.) Dave posted the photo to his blog under the headline At The Fair: Is He A DINO? Are They RINOs? What I love is that it’s absolutely Walt: Taking the time to meet everyone at the Republican booth, make a few friends and even win a secret vote or two. (Oh, and Bill Sali is represented in the picture by a balloon.)

* More computer problems?
The Idaho Statesman a couple of weeks ago launched their Idaho Voter’s Guide, which has a series of questions for every candidate in their coverage area. When it launched, it included answers from most of the federal candidates - in fact, it included answers from everyone but ... you guessed it, Bill Sali. The Congressman and his crack technical team finally posted the answers last week. Speaking of technical, did you know the Sali for Congress campaign has amended FEC reports 43 times since 2005?

* You know things are bad when ...
In Michigan, political columnist Susan Demas uses her Capitol Chronicles column to make fun of Congressman Tim Walberg for his new best friend - Bill Sali. Ouch. Not only that, but the magazine Radar got in on the act on their website with a post titled Here We Have Idaho. (Impressive, boys, knowing our state song like that.) Their post rehashes Sali’s now-infamous 40-barrels-of-oil-from-one-tree comment.

* Better rent a big moving truck
Remember last week when Bill Sali’s spokesman claimed they, like TOTALLY had an special, double-secret exemption which allowed them to have a taxpayer-funded office outside of Idaho’s First Congressional District? Actually, not so much. Turns out there was no exemption, and Sali has been violating House rules. Since they inadvertently approved a lease he shouldn’t have had in the first place, the Committee on House Administration won’t force him to pay it back. Think of it as a parting gift, Bill.

* We really, really, really like Anne
I don’t know what it is about Bill Sali that keeps Politico’s Ann Schroeder Mullins all atwitter, but it makes for some fun reading out here in Idaho. She used her Shenanigans gossip blog to post a couple of Bill Sali updates, including a great picture of Congressional spokesman Wayne Hoffman earning his taxpayer-funded salary by walking in a parade handing out Bill Sali for Congress Indian-style headbands.

* Speaking of Wayne
The Lewiston Morning Tribune (sorry, it’s behind a paywall) had another scathing editorial:
“Not Hoffman, though. He’s experienced at campaigning while also serving on the public payroll. During the 1996 election, he was a spokesman for Tom Luna’s campaign for state school superintendent at the same time he worked as spokesman for the Idaho Department of Agriculture. In truth, Hoffman says it was not at the same time. He says he carefully avoided doing any campaign work while on the state payroll. But one of Luna’s rivals in the Republican primary, Steve Smylie of Boise, wasn’t the only one confused by the former reporter’s dual role. This year, the same confusion led one of Hoffman’s former employers, the Idaho Press-Tribune in Nampa, to call him on it. In an editorial, the conservative paper called his quick-change artistry from one role to another “unusual and inappropriate.” “It’s a shell game,” the editorial said. “The truth is, if he’s handling campaign matters, he’s not available at that time to answer questions in his official capacity as a spokesman for the office.” Hoffman responded intemperately, accusing the Press-Tribune of joining “the chorus of shrill news lemmings all marching willingly to a sea of liberalism, filth and innuendo.” One thing he left out was whether he was writing as the spokesman for Sali’s congressional office, or for Sali’s campaign.”

* An accusation, and a correction
Earlier this week, the Idaho Republican Party—now populated by Sali loyalists—sent out a scathing press release accusing Walt of improperly taking a tax exemption on a home he owns. That story didn’t get any traction which was just as well because it turns out they were wrong. The updated, corrected account - with the Idaho GOP’s admission of error - ran in a lot more places:
- KTRV Fox 12 - Idaho - Idaho GOP erred when it said Minnick got tax break
- Idaho Statesman: GOP erred when it said Minnick got tax break
- KTVB.com: Idaho GOP erred when it said Minnick got tax break
- Spokesman-Review: GOP Erred w/Minnick Tax Break Claim
A few bloggers jumped on the story, in part because the boys on the other side had been so obnoxious about pushing it. One blogger said GOP Chairman Semanko and E.D. Sid Smith got GOPWND.

* Your moment of zen
The incomparable Bill Sali Fan writes about his hero standing up to the namby-pamby teacher’s pets by doing what he knows is right: “What it all boils down to is this: Bill Sali doesn’t need to answer to all these tattle-tales and “concerned citizens”; Bill Sali is above the law by virtue of being right! Nowhere in the Bible—the only true source of Law—does it say that Bill Sali can’t have his offices outside his district, or can’t mail out taxpayer-funded campaign brochures whenever he darn well pleases.”

Editorial in the Lewiston Tribune

by John Foster - August 25, 2008

In case you missed it, the Lewiston Tribune (sorry, it’s behind a paywall) had another scathing editorial about Bill Sali’s taxpayer-funded offices. Here’s a snippet:

Not Hoffman, though. He’s experienced at campaigning while also serving on the public payroll. During the 1996 election, he was a spokesman for Tom Luna’s campaign for state school superintendent at the same time he worked as spokesman for the Idaho Department of Agriculture.

In truth, Hoffman says it was not at the same time. He says he carefully avoided doing any campaign work while on the state payroll. But one of Luna’s rivals in the Republican primary, Steve Smylie of Boise, wasn’t the only one confused by the former reporter’s dual role.

This year, the same confusion led one of Hoffman’s former employers, the Idaho Press-Tribune in Nampa, to call him on it. In an editorial, the conservative paper called his quick-change artistry from one role to another “unusual and inappropriate.”

“It’s a shell game,” the editorial said. “The truth is, if he’s handling campaign matters, he’s not available at that time to answer questions in his official capacity as a spokesman for the office.”

Hoffman responded intemperately, accusing the Press-Tribune of joining “the chorus of shrill news lemmings all marching willingly to a sea of liberalism, filth and innuendo.”

One thing he left out was whether he was writing as the spokesman for Sali’s congressional office, or for Sali’s campaign.

Walt attacked, but press says group “erred”

by John Foster - August 24, 2008

You may have heard about the new leadership at the Idaho GOP—new people installed by Bill Sali—attacking Walt last week and accused him of improperly filing his taxes.

However, a story by the Associated Press says the group was mistaken. In fact, according to the story, the Ada County assessor—himself a Republican—said the attack wasn’t true: “Robert McQuade, the Ada County assessor, says ‘Those taxes aren’t going to be due until December of this year. The bill hasn’t even been sent out yet.’ A Republican Party spokesman says the mistake occurred because he thought Minnick had paid his 2008 property taxes already.”

Why would the Idaho GOP’s new chairman and executive director attack Walt on behalf of their friend Bill Sali, and do it in a way that flies in the face of the years of their own party’s tradition of measured political statesmanship, to say nothing of basic accuracy? Perhaps because their political patron is himself in deep trouble. Turns out Sali violated the rules of the U.S. House of Representatives by opening a taxpayer-funded office OUTSIDE the district he represents.

According to the story: “Though Sali aides say their lease was reviewed and approved by the committee in January 2007, Anderson said he can find no record of issuing an exemption or waiver to Sali through the Committee on House Administration.”

Minnick campaign proudly based in the District Walt will represent

by John Foster - August 16, 2008

Did you know Bill Sali’s campaign office and Congressional in-state headquarters are both in Idaho’s Second Congressional District. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem—except Sali represents the First District.

The Boise Weekly started things off this week with their scoop. The Spokesman-Review followed, and added a quote from the Minnick campaign: “There’s lots of available office space in the 1st Congressional District, and we have very much enjoyed having our office there.” The Idaho Press Tribune also reported on the offices being outside the District. And an Associated Press story ran at KBOI.com, in the Ontario (OR) Argus-Observer (which covers portions of Idaho farm country), in the Idaho Statesman, and in Montana.

The Associated Press story also points out House rules: “District office space must be located within a Member’s district unless there is no suitable office space in a federal building in the Member’s district. In that event, a district office may be located in a federal building serving the Member’s district.”

The bloggers piled on. One says it’s another example of incompetence from Sali and his staff. Another wonders if it’s time for a House Ethics Investigation. A contributor at SwingStateProject points out that the issue of coordination between Congressional and campaign offices is just as big an issue as having offices outside the District. And at 43rd State Blues, normally known more for partisan bomb-throwing, a contributor offers a comprehensive analysis of why Sali’s office is skating on very thin legal and ethical ice.

Walt knows celluosic ethanol - does Bill?

by John Foster - August 16, 2008

A legislative candidate in Canyon County wrote a while back about a recent visit to the Washington offices of Congressman Sali. Byron Yankey writes that Sali claimed that you could get up to 40 barrels of oil from a tree.

That was picked up by ThinkProgress, which pointed out:
- Cellulosic ethanol is a renewable fuel derived from the stalks and stems of plants.
- Sali voted against cellulosic ethanol tax credits.
- Oil is a nonrenewable fuel found in the ground.
- Sali received $35,000 in campaign contributions from oil and gas companies since January 2007.

TalkingPointsMemo actually got Sali’s spokesman on the phone. He said his boss never said that oil can come from trees ... except Hoffman wasn’t at the meeting in question. According to TPM Election Central: “Sali might have been referring to cellulosic ethanol in a very awkward fashion.” Sounds like Sali’s been listening to Walt.

The reports generated, as you can guess, withering posts in the blogosphere. Most prominently at Daily Kos, where Idaho native Joan McCarter writes that covering Sali is ”Like Shooting Fish in a Barrel.” Another writes: Whatever it takes to please the oil lobbyists, Bill Sali is game.

Analysis of ID-01 from Congressional Quarterly

by John Foster - August 16, 2008

Congressional Quarterly yesterday posted a review of the Idaho political landscape, pointing out that while Obama will not win the state, the Ron Paul factor and frustrated Republicans mean it’s a good year to be a conservative Democrat: “McCain’s worries are minor compared with those of freshman Rep. Bill Sali , who is the rare prominent Republican official in Idaho whose political standing looks wobbly. Sali faces a vigorous challenge from Democratic businessman Walt Minnick in the state’s western House district.”

Blogger: Does Bill Sali really want to win?

by John Foster - August 16, 2008

It’s no secret that outside groups have been and will be critical to Sali’s re-election effort. However, a self-professed “South Park Republican” in Meridian is wondering if Sali really wants to win: “He’s not running any commercials (despite some very effective ones his moderate opponent, Walt Minnick, has running), he’s not even pretending to have local offices that are actually in the district he represents, and he’s not responding at all to the tidal wave of embarrassing stories about him in the national media.”

Bill Sali: As ineffective as it gets

by John Foster - August 09, 2008

Over at the always-good “The Stupid Shall Be Punished” blog, Bubblehead has an amazing post detailing the reasons Bill Sali is ranked 423 out of 435 on a ”power ranking” for U.S. Congressmen. (Out of the 12 who are ranked behind him, several are either under indictment or under investigation.) Bubblehead takes the time to really dive into why Sali is so ineffective, including his obstructionist legislation, his poor record of financial responsibility, his habit of making a big deal out of problems solved long ago and being in such a small minority on so many votes.

That last point came up earlier this week in an Associated Press story about our press conference to highlight Sali’s vote against funding for bridge inspection. In the story, Walt pointed out that Sali is so far out of touch that he’s just not on the side of Idaho voters. Sali may be looking out for his friends in the lobbyist and PAC communities, but he’s not watching out for Idaho.

Want proof? Here is a long (but by no means complete) list of bills and amendments where Sali votes with a small minority—and where he votes against Idaho’s other Congressman, fellow Republican Mike Simpson:

On January 17, 2007, the US House of Representatives approved H.R. 5, the College Student Relief Act of 2007.  This bill amended the Higher Education Act of 1965 to reduce interest rates for student borrowers.  The vote was 356 – 71.  Rep. Sali joined 70 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On February 16, 2007, the US House of Representatives approved HR 976, the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007.  The vote was 360 – 45.  Rep. Sali joined 44 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On March 7, 2007, the US House of Representatives approved HR 569, the Water Quality Investment Act of 2007.  The Act will amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to prohibit the funds authorized by this Act from being used to lobby governmental entities or officers, or to pay for their expenses related to memberships in organizations or associations.  The vote was 367 – 58.  Rep. Sali joined 57 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On March 14, 2007, the US House of Representatives approved HR 1255, the Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2007.  The Act will amend chapter 22 of title 44, United States Code, popularly known as the Presidential Records Act, to establish procedures for the consideration of claims of constitutionally based privilege against disclosure of Presidential records.  The vote was 333 – 93.  Rep. Sali joined 92 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On March 19, 2007, the US House of Representatives approved HR 658, the Natural Resource Protection Cooperative Agreement Act.  The Act will authorize the Secretary of the Interior to enter into cooperative agreements to protect the natural resources of the National Parks.  The vote was 390 – 10.  Rep. Sali joined 9 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On March 21, 2007, the US House of Representatives approved HR 1227, the Gulf Coast Hurricane Housing Recovery Act of 2007.  The Act will help provide affordable housing to low-income families affected by Hurricane Katrina.  The vote was 302 – 125.  Rep. Sali joined 124 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On March 26, 2007, the US House of Representatives approved HR 802, the Maritime Pollution Prevention Act of 2007.  The Act will increase enforcement by the Coast Guard and EPA to decrease ship pollution in America’s coastal waters and bays.  The vote was 359 – 48.  Rep. Sali joined 47 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On March 26, 2007, the US House of Representatives approved HR 137, the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act of 2007.  The Act will amend title 18, United States Code, to strengthen prohibitions against animal fighting.  The vote was 368 – 39.  Rep. Sali joined 36 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On March 26, 2007, the US House of Representatives approved HR 580.  The Act will amend chapter 35 of title 28, United States Code, to provide for a 120-day limit to the term of a United States attorney appointed on an interim basis by the Attorney General.  The vote was 329 – 78.  Rep. Sali joined 77 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On April 17, 2007, the US House of Representatives approved HRES 196.  The Resolution expressed support for the goals and ideals of World Water Day.  The vote was 393 – 22.  Rep. Sali joined 21 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On April 24, 2007, the US House of Representatives approved HR 362, the 10,000 Teachers, 10 Million Minds Science and Math Scholarship Act.  The Act will authorize science scholarships for educating mathematics and science teachers.  The vote was 389 – 22.  Rep. Sali joined 21 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On April 24, 2007, the US House of Representatives approved HR 363, the Sowing the Seeds through Science and Engineering Research Act.  The Act will authorize programs to support the early career development of science and engineering researchers, and for support of graduate fellowships.  The vote was 397 – 20.  Rep.  Rep. Sali joined 19 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On April 25, 2007, the US House approved HR 1678, the Torture Victims Relief Reauthorization Act of 2007.  The Act will amend the Torture Victims Relief Act of 1998 to authorize appropriations to provide assistance to domestic and foreign medical centers for the treatment of victims of torture initiated by the United States government.  The vote was 418 – 7.  Rep. Sali joined 6 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On May 1, 2007, the US House approved H.CON.RES 112, states that the Congress supports the goals and ideas of National Child Care Worthy Wage Day, and urges public officials and the general public to honor early childhood care and education staff and programs in their communities and to work together to resolve the early childhood care and education staff compensation crisis.  The vote was 345 – 73.  Rep. Sali joined 72 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On May 2, 2007, the US House approved HR 1867, the National Science Foundation Authorization Act of 2007.  The bill authorizes appropriations for fiscal years 2008, 2009, and 2010 for the National Science Foundation, with specific allocations for: 1) research and related activities; 2) education and human resources; 3) major research equipment and facilities construction; and 4) agency operations.  The vote was 399 – 17.  Rep. Sali joined 16 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On May 3, 2007, the US House approved HR 1868, the Technology Innovation and Manufacturing Stimulation Act of 2007.  The bill authorizes appropriations for the National Institute of Standards and Technology for fiscal years 2008, 2009, and 2010 and establishes a Technology Innovation Program to assist U.S. businesses and institutions of higher education to accelerate development and application of challenging technologies that promise widespread economic benefits.  The vote was 385 – 23.  Rep. Sali joined 22 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On May 7, 2007, the US House approved HR 407, the Columbia-Pacific National Heritage Area Study Act.  The bill directs the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study to determine the feasibility of establishing the Columbia-Pacific National Heritage Area in the States of Washington and Oregon.  The Heritage Areas would focus on Native American history, local history, Euro-American settlement culture, and related economic activities.  The vote was 294 – 80.  Rep. Sali joined 79 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On May 8, 2007, the US House approved HR 1595, the Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act.  The bill recognizes the suffering and the loyalty to America of the people of Guam during the Japanese occupation of Guam during World War II.  The vote was 288 – 133.  Rep. Sali joined 130 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On May 10, 2007, the US House approved HR 1873, the Small Business Fairness in Contracting Act.  The bill reauthorizes the programs and activities of the Small Business Administration relating to procurement.  HR 1873 amends the Small Business Act to increase the government-wide goal for participation by small business concerns in federal procurement and service contracts, and directs the SBA Administrator to contact registered small businesses regarding the likelihood of federal contracting opportunities.  The vote was 409 – 13.  Rep. Sali joined 10 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On May 14, 2007, the US House approved HRES 385, recognizing National AmeriCorps Week.  The resolution honors the more than 70,000 Americans who each year provide voluntary service to meet America’s needs in education, public safety, health, and the environment.  The vote was 346 – 21.  Rep. Sali joined 20 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On May 15, 2007, the US House approved HR 1700, the COPS Improvements Act of 2007.  The bill amend the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to enhance the COPS ON THE BEAT grant program by expanding the authority of the Attorney General to make federal grants for public safety and community policing programs.  The vote was 381 – 34.  Rep. Sali joined 33 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On June 6, 2007, the US House approved HR 964, the Securely Protect Yourself Against Cyber Trespass Act.  The bill protects users of the Internet from unknowing transmission of their personally identifiable information through spyware programs.  The vote was 368 – 48.  Rep. Sali joined 42 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On June 20, 2007, the US House approved HR 2284, to amend the Small Business Act to expand and improve the assistance provided by Small Business Development Centers to Indian tribe members, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians.  The vote was 351 – 73.  Rep. Sali joined 73 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On June 27, 2007, the US House rejected H.AMDT. 451 to the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for 2008.  Had the amendment passed, it would have eliminated all funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.  The vote was 97 – 335.  Rep. Sali joined 93 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED NO.

On July 12, 2007, the US House approved HR 1851, the Section 8 Voucher Reform Act of 2007.  The Act will reform the housing choice voucher program under section 8 of the United States Housing Act of 1937, resulting in more places to live for the homeless.  The vote was 333 – 83.  Rep. Sali joined 80 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On July 18, 2007, the US House rejected H.AMDT. 530 to the appropriations for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2008.  Had the amendment passed, it would have reduced appropriations for Children and Families Services Programs by $8 million.  The vote was 58 – 370.  Rep. Sali joined 57 other Republicans to vote yes with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED NO.

On July 18, 2007, the US House rejected H.AMDT. 543 to the appropriations for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2008.  Had the amendment passed, it would have reduced the Rehabilitation Services and Disability Research account by $2,279,000.  The vote was 95 – 335.  Rep. Sali joined 83 other Republicans to vote yes with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED NO.

On July 18, 2007, the US House rejected H.AMDT. 544 to the appropriations bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2008.  Had the amendment passed, it would have reduced the funding for the Student Financial Assistance account by $64,987,000.  The vote was 79 – 349.  Rep. Sali joined 78 other Republicans to vote yes with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED NO.

On July 25, 2007, the US House approved HR 2929, a bill to limit the use of funds to establish any military installation or base for the purpose of providing for the permanent stationing of United States Armed Forces in Iraq or to exercise United States economic control of the oil resources of Iraq.  The vote was 399 – 24.  Rep. Sali joined 23 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On July 27, 2007, the US House approved HR 1, the Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007.  The bill will provide for the implementation of the recommendations of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.  The vote was 371 – 40.  Rep. Sali joined 38 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On July 31, 2007, the US House approved HR 176, the Shirley A. Chisholm United States-Caribbean Educational Exchange Act of 2007.  The bill will authorize the establishment of educational exchange and development programs for member countries of the Caribbean Community.  The vote was 371 – 55.  Rep. Sali joined 54 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On September 6, 2007, the US House passed HR. 2786, the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Reauthorization Act of 2007.  The Act reauthorizes the programs for housing assistance for Native Americans.  The vote was 333 – 75.  Rep. Sali joined 74 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On September 7, 2007, the US House passed HR. 2669, the College Cost Reduction Act of 2007.  The Act 1) cuts student loan interest rates by 50%, 2) increases Pell grant award money available, and 3) caps student loan repayment at 15% of income, after expenses for essentials have been paid.  The vote was 292 – 97.  Rep. Sali joined 96 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On September 17, 2007, the US House passed HR. 1657.  The bill establishes a Science and Technology Scholarship Program to award scholarships to recruit and prepare students for careers in the National Weather Service and in National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration marine research, atmospheric research, and satellite programs.  The vote was 360 – 16.  Rep. Sali joined 15 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On September 18, 2007, the US House passed HR. 1852, the Expanding American Homeownership Act of 2007.  The bill gives the Federal Housing Administration the authority to assist struggling homeowners in making their mortgage payments.  The vote was 348 – 72.  Rep. Sali joined 71 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On September 27, 2007, the US House passed HR. 3567, the Small Business Investment Expansion Act of 2007.  The bill amends the Small Business Investment Act of 1958 to expand opportunities for investments in small businesses.  The vote was 325 – 72.  Rep. Sali joined 71 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On October 4, 2007, the US House passed HR. 3648, the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007.  The bill amends the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to exclude discharges of indebtedness on principal residences from gross income. The vote was 386 – 27.  Rep. Sali joined 26 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On October 16, 2007, the US House passed HRES. 734 expressing the sense of the House of Representatives regarding the withholding of information relating to corruption in Iraq.  The vote was 395 – 21.  Rep. Sali joined 20 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On October 17, 2007, the US House passed HR. 2095, the Federal Railroad Safety Improvement Act of 2007.  The bill amends title 49, United States Code, to prevent railroad fatalities, injuries, and hazardous materials releases, and it would authorize the Federal Railroad Safety Administration.  The vote was 377 – 38.  Rep. Sali joined 37 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.
\
On November 15, 2007, the US House passed HR. 3915, the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act of 2007.  The bill amends the Truth in Lending Act to reform consumer mortgage practices and provide accountability for such practices, to establish licensing and registration requirements for residential mortgage originators, and to provide certain minimum standards for consumer mortgage loans.  The vote was 291 – 127.  Rep. Sali joined 126 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On December 18, 2007, the US House passed HR 6, the CLEAN Energy Act of 2007.  The bill moves the United States toward greater energy independence and security, to increase the production of clean renewable fuels, to protect consumers, to increase the efficiency of products, buildings, and vehicles, to promote research on and deploy greenhouse gas capture and storage options, and to improve the energy performance of the Federal Government.  The vote was 314 – 100.  Rep. Sali joined 95 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On February 7, 2008, the US House passed HR 4137, the College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2007.  The Act amends and extends the Higher Education Act of 1965 by establishing new college cost and assistance information resources for students, parents, and the public, among other items. The vote was 354 – 58.  Rep. Sali joined 57 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On February 7, 2008, the US House passed HR 4848, which assists Americans with mental health issues by requiring group health insurance plans to treat mental health benefits and medical/surgical benefits equally regarding lifetime payout limits and annual payout limits on benefits covered by the plan.  The vote was 354 – 58.  Rep. Sali joined 57 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On February 14, 2008, the US House passed HR 1834, which authorizes the national ocean exploration program and the national undersea research program within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  The vote was 352 – 49.  Rep. Sali joined 48 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On April 23, 2008, the US House passed H.R. 5819, the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer Reauthorization Act.  The Act Directs the Administrator to make two-year grants to organizations to: (1) conduct SBIR outreach efforts to increase small business participation; and (2) provide application support and entrepreneurial and business skills support to prospective participants and requires organizations receiving grants to direct activities towards small business concerns located in underrepresented geographic areas and/or small business concerns owned and controlled by women, small business concerns owned and controlled by service-disabled veterans, and small business concerns owned and controlled by minorities.  The vote was 368 – 43.  Rep. Sali joined 37 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES. \

On May 14, 2008, the US House passed H RES 1173, Recognizing AmeriCorps Week.  The bill encourages all citizens to join in a national effort to salute AmeriCorps members and alumni and encourages citizens of all ages to consider serving in AmeriCorps.  The vote was 344 – 69.  Rep. Sali joined 68 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On May 21, 2008, the US House passed HR 1771, the Crane Conservation Act of 2008.  The bill requires the Secretary of the Interior to provide financial assistance for approved projects relating to the conservation of cranes (whose numbers are declining), using amounts in the Crane Conservation Fund established by this Act.  The vote was 304 – 118.  Rep. Sali joined 117 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On June 5, 2008, the US House failed to pass HR 5540, the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network Continuing Authorization Act.  The bill amends the Chesapeake Bay Initiative Act of 1998 to make permanent the authorization of appropriations for the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network for the outdoor recreation of Americans in the NE United States.  The vote was 321 – 86.  Rep. Sali joined 85 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On June 10, 2008, the US House passed HR 6028, the Merida Initiative to Combat Illicit Narcotics and Reduce Organized Crime Authorization Act.  The bill directs the President to report to the appropriate congressional committees respecting measures taken to: (1) address U.S. demand-related aspects of the drug-trafficking phenomenon; (2) combat the southbound flow of illegal precursor chemicals and bulk cash transfers into Mexico; and (3) implement and measure the success of activities taken under this Act.  The vote was 311 – 106.  Rep. Sali joined 83 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On June 11, 2008, the US House passed HR 6003, the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act.  The bill authorizes appropriations for Amtrak for FY2009-FY2013, and authorizes Amtrak to contract for the operation of an intercity rail service or route not included in the national rail passenger transportation system.  The vote was 311 – 104.  Rep. Sali joined 103 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On June 17, 2008, the US House passed HR 2964, the Captive Primate Safety Act.  The bill Amends the Lacey Act Amendments of 1981 to add nonhuman primates (i.e., monkeys, great apes, lemurs, etc.) to the definition of “prohibited wildlife species” for purposes of the prohibition against the sale or purchase of such species in interstate or foreign commerce.  The party-line vote was 302 – 96.  Rep. Sali joined 95 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On June 24, 2008, the US House passed HR 6331, the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act.  The bill amends the Social Security Act by: 1) extending expiring provisions under the Medicare Program, 2) improving beneficiary access to preventive and mental health services, 3) enhancing low-income benefit programs, and 4) maintaining access to care in rural areas, including pharmacy access.  The vote was 355 – 59.  Rep. Sali joined 58 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On June 25, 2008, the US House passed HR 6357, the Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for Teens Act of 2008.  The bill will require certain standards and enforcement provisions to prevent child abuse and neglect in residential programs.  The vote was 318 – 103.  Rep. Sali joined 102 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On June 26, 2008, the US House passed 6052, the Saving Energy Through Public Transportation Act.  The bill 1) promotes increased public transportation use, 2) promotes increased use of alternative fuels in providing public transportation, and 3) authorizes appropriations for each of FY2008-FY2009 for public transportation formula grants for urbanized areas and for other areas.  The vote was 322 – 98.  Rep. Sali joined 97 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On June 26, 2008, the US House passed HR 6377, the Energy Markets Emergency Act of 2008.  The bill 1) promotes increased public transportation use, 2) promotes increased use of alternative fuels in providing public transportation, and 3) authorizes appropriations for each of FY2008-FY2009 for public transportation formula grants for urbanized areas and for other areas.  The vote was 402 – 19.  Rep. Sali joined 18 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On July 9, 2008, the US House passed HR 5811, the Electronic Message Preservation Act.  The bill requires 1) that certain Federal agency electronic records be preserved and 2) certification and reports relating to Presidential records.  The vote was 286 – 137.  Rep. Sali joined 136 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On July 10, 2008, the US House passed HR 1286, the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail Designation Act.  The bill amends the National Trails System Act to designate the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary War Route a National Historic Trail.  The vote was 345 – 69.  Rep. Sali joined 68 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On July 15, 2008, the US House passed HR 6331, the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act.  The bill improves beneficiary access to preventive and mental health services, to enhances low-income benefit programs, and to maintains access to care in rural areas, including pharmacy access.  The vote was 383 – 41.  Rep. Sali joined 40 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On July 24, 2008, the US House passed HR 3999, the National Highway Bridge Reconstruction and Inspection Act.  The bill amends title 23, United States Code, to improve the safety of Federal-aid highway bridges, to strengthen bridge inspection standards and processes, to increase investment in the reconstruction of structurally deficient bridges on the National Highway System.  The vote was 367 – 55.  Rep. Sali joined 54 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

On July 30, 2008, the US House passed HR 1108, the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.  The bill provides the Food and Drug Administration with the authority to regulate tobacco products to protect the public health and prohibits cigarettes from containing any artificial or natural flavor, herb or spice, including strawberry, cinnamon, or coffee.  The vote was 326 – 102.  Rep. Sali joined 98 other Republicans to vote no with the minority. SIMPSON VOTED YES.

Walt Minnick supports more domestic oil production

by John Foster - August 05, 2008

There’s a lot of rhetoric these days from folks in Washington, D.C. about what to do about the energy crisis. While those politicians argue, Walt stands with Idahoans who understand it will take more drilling—more domestic production of our own crude oil supply—along with new technology and new ideas for conservation and energy. As Walt told the Idaho Statesman, the U.S. should increase oil exploration and domestic drilling. He said the same thing to the Associated Press, during an interview with KFXD and in press releases criticizing Sali’s own votes against drilling in Alaska . Walt has also supported increased domestic oil production in responses to surveys from groups such as Scientists and Engineers for America, and he believes that Congress should remove federal restrictions on off-shore drilling so states can decide the issue for themselves.

So yes, resolving this energy crisis will require more conservation and more investment in alternative and renewable sources of energy, but make no mistake – we’ve got to drill right here at home.

Tribune: Bill Sali sides with cigarette makers

by John Foster - August 04, 2008

In case you missed it, Lewiston Morning Tribune editorial writer Jim Fisher had a scathing piece in this morning’s paper. Here’s the piece, and a link to the LMT website.

Idaho’s Bill Sali sides with cigarette makers
Jim Fisher
Monday, August 4, 2008

Bill Sali has done it again. The congressman from Idaho’s 1st District joined the small minority of members who recently voted against giving the Food and Drug Administration the power to regulate tobacco products.

That means if Sali had his way, the agency with authority over the healthful fruit and vegetables you buy would have no authority over products for which there is no healthful, or even safe, use.

That is the current state of affairs, to be sure, but only because of the tobacco industry’s clout in Congress, where it contributes heavily to members’ election campaigns. The vote to give the FDA regulatory power over tobacco was 326-102, and Sali’s vote put him in an even smaller minority among Northwest House members than in the nation at large. Every member of Washingon’s and Oregon’s delegations voted for the bill, as did Sali’s fellow Republican Rep. Mike Simpson from Idaho’s 2nd District.

Although there is a good argument over government’s proper role in getting people to stop killing themselves with cigarettes, the legislation in question does not permit the FDA to ban tobacco products or to order the elimination of nicotine from them. It does authorize the agency to reduce nicotine to nonaddictive levels if it determined doing so would benefit public health.

In doing so, it offers another step in a gradual campaign to encourage rather than force Americans to stop a self-destructive practice. Like long-standing regulation of tobacco advertising, and recent state and municipal laws clearing the smoke from indoor places, the bill Sali opposed would help more people break their addiction to cigarettes.

And if you wonder whether that is justified, remember we have learned that tobacco companies have manipulated nicotine levels to keep smokers hooked on their products. How many smokers say today they would stop lighting up if only it were easier to break the addiction?

Perhaps the House’s Republican leader, Rep. John Boehner, is not one, but unlike Boehner, Sali is among House members who are addicted not to cigarettes, but either to Big Tobacco’s campaign cash or anti-government ideology.

President Bush has threatened to veto the legislation should it pass the Senate - where Idaho’s Sen. Mike Crapo is leaning for it and Sen. Larry Craig is leaning against it, according to the Idaho Business Review. But the House has a veto-proof majority favoring the bill.

No thanks to Sali, of course. Even in this election year, Sali continues to place himself out of mainstream public opinion, both in the nation and in Idaho. - J.F.

Praise for new Walt Minnick campaign spots

by John Foster - July 30, 2008

In case you missed it, Betsy Russell from the Spokesman-Review had comments from Boise State professor emeritus and political pundit Jim Weatherby on our new campaign commercials.

HINT: He had nice things to say.

Read about it here, and read Betsy’s analysis of the ads here

Owyhee ranchers: We need problem-solvers in Washington

by John Foster - July 29, 2008

Last Saturday night, Walt made the long, bumpy drive through Owyhee County up to Silver City for an evening with the Owyhee Cattlemen’s Association.

The current Association president and his predecessors all come from ranching families with a direct lineage in the county dating back to the 1800s. They know the land. They love the land. And they want to see the land—and their way of life—protected for future generations.

That’s why the Association sat at the table with the Idaho Conservation League and other groups to help draft what became known as the Owyhee Initiative. The initiative brought together a wide variety of groups that shared one thing in common: a desire to protect and preserve the Owyhee Canyonlands for the future.

The folks we met in Silver City continue to support the Initiative as it was originally drafted, in part due to the strong efforts and work of U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo. However, members of the Cattlemen’s Association were a little frustrated that the hard work of folks here in Idaho seemed stalled by bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. who changed the original plan.

It’s a problem we hear all to often on the campaign trail, and it’s one of the ways Washington is broken: Folks back there don’t trust us to solve our own problems here in Idaho.

That’s why Walt pledged to the folks in Silver City that he will work with Sen. Crapo to make sure the original bill is passed, that it gets through the U.S. House and that it is fully funded by the next session of Congress. After all, tough times call for people to focus on real solutions.

Walt visits Kuna for Pioneer Day, Caldwell for the fair

by John Foster - July 29, 2008

July 24 is an unofficial state holiday here in Idaho, as members of the LDS faith join those who love and appreciate Idaho history in a celebration of our heritage.

Walt spent the day in Kuna with local families in observance of the thousands who blazed the trail to Idaho, worked hard, raised families and helped make this state into what it is today.

“It was a real honor to attend and meet folks at the Pioneer Day celebration,” Walt said. “When Brigham Young and the first group of Mormon pioneers made it to the Salt Lake valley 161 years ago, it marked a turning point in the nation’s history. And it led to much of the lifestyle we love and appreciate here in Idaho.”

The outdoor market in Kuna was buzzing over the weekend in anticipation of this weekend’s annual Kuna Days events. Walt got to shake plenty of hands, and heard more amazing and heart-wrenching stories about the tough times people are having with gas prices, with their mortgages and with their health care.

-----------------------

On a brighter note: We love county fairs

Much of the weekend was spent shaking hands, eating good food and meeting new friends at the Canyon County Fair. Campaigning is a tough business, but it gets a lot easier when you get to sit down with a soda and burger from your local Lion’s Club.

Walt most enjoys the main livestock barns, full of 4-H kids with their pigs, goats, dairy cows and their families—a nice reminder of his youth spent on the family wheat farm. Kids and their animals were both spiffed up and cleaned to a shine, earnest in the hope that the hard work of an entire year will be rewarded. 

Sure, the rides are great and the food is a delight. But county fairs in Idaho are still all about the livestock, the crafts and the hard work of the many people who’ve labored all year to show their hard work. So when you head to your local county fair, make sure you spend some time off the midway and in the livestock tent. It’s the best place to be.

Latest campaign commercials from Walt Minnick for Congress

by John Foster - July 28, 2008

We’re very pleased to present our first two campaign commercials of the election season:

- Click here to watch ”Lessons
- Click here to watch ”Tough Times

Sunday editorial in the Lewiston Tribune

by John Foster - July 28, 2008

In case you missed it, Jim Fisher had a scathing editorial in yesterday’s Lewiston Tribune:

Sunday, July 27, 2008

It may be that voters in Idaho’s 1st Congressional District don’t care if their congressman is one of the most extreme in the nation. Bill Sali, for example, has signed on as one of four co-sponsors of Rep. Ron Paul’s legislation requiring the United States to withdraw from the United Nations. But what if that extremism is helping make him one of the least effective members of Congress?

According to the power rankings of the nonpartisan Congress.org, Sali ranks 423rd in the 435-member House. (You probably haven’t heard of the dozen members behind him in the rankings.)

That is bad enough, but with Sen. Larry Craig’s plummet to No. 98 out of 99 senators ranked by the group, Idaho’s delegation is considered feebler than any neighboring state.

Congress.org scores Idaho’s power average at 11.10, compared to 21.93 for Washington, 22.56 for Oregon, 36.79 for Nevada, 20.27 for Utah, 12.26 for Wyoming and 25.86 for Montana.

The fact that Democrats now control both chambers of Congress affects the rankings to Republicans’ disfavor, of course. And Nevada’s representation by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the most powerful member of his chamber, certainly boosts its rank.

But Idaho’s other House member, Republican Mike Simpson, scores in the middle of his colleagues at No. 220. The state’s other senator, Mike Crapo, doesn’t even reach mid-ground, ranking at No. 72 in the 100-member Senate.

Craig’s fall from power is explained by his guilty plea resulting from a sex sting in an airport men’s room. But Sali’s has nothing to do with private conduct. It’s his public behavior that has made him little more than a chair-warmer in the House.

His support for withdrawal from the U.N. is but one example. With it, he has aligned himself, as has Paul, with the John Birch Society. In fact, during a recent visit to Lewiston, Sali huddled with Birch Society members in Clarkston, one place in the nation with an active local chapter.

It was the Birch Society that the late William F. Buckley sought to purge from the conservative movement in the 1960s, lest its crackpot notions - the society’s founder labeled President Eisenhower a “conscious, dedicated agent of the Communist Conspiracy” - doom it to failure.

But Sali’s alignment with Birchers isn’t his only demonstration of fringe politics. His joining 40 other House members who sought to sustain President Bush’s unpopular veto of improvements to Medicare is another.

Then there are the things he says that aren’t so, the most famous being his continued insistence that abortions cause breast cancer. It was after he refused to stop repeating that on the floor of the Idaho House that then-Speaker Bruce Newcomb called Sali “an absolute idiot.”

The Wall Street Journal last week published a story on Sali’s current race with Democrat Walt Minnick, and contacted Newcomb about that characterization. The Republican former legislator, now teaching at Boise State University, declared, “I’ve not withdrawn my statement.”

Surely by now there must be more than a few 1st District residents who wish they could withdraw their votes for a representative whose lack of moderation denies him political power. - J.F.

Walt Minnick campaign in the news last week

by John Foster - July 28, 2008

Last week was a busy one in our campaign to make Walt Minnick the next congressman from Idaho. Here’s a roundup of recent news stories:

- Popkey: It’s time for Sali to admit he needs help, Idaho Statesman
- Democratic Party to spend $350k on Minnick campaign ads, KTVB.com
- FEC looking Sali’s failure to file, Associated Press
- Sali’s FEC report long overdue, Politico
- Minnick holds fundraising edge over Rep. Sali, Idaho Statesman

Help us spread the word this weekend!

by John Foster - July 25, 2008

Its crunch time! Saturday marks 100 days until the election. Our campaign has had big success in the last few months, out raising our opponent nearly 2-1, earning big national media stories (check out page A3 in the July 15th edition of the Wall Street Journal) and completing a voter identification project of a scale never before seen in Idaho. But that’s just the start; the real test is yet to come.

This Saturday the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is having a contest between all of the most competitive races in the nation to kick off their grassroots program. The campaign that brings in the most volunteers will be the recipient of a huge fundraising drive-it’s hard to imagine something that could help our campaign more--a grassroots push that wins Idaho national recognition!

You can help us win this contest and jump start our voter contact effort by coming to our Mobilize for Change Knock and Phone Party this Saturday between 10:00 AM and 5:00 PM-all we need is an hour of your time to take us to victory. We need people in the office all day on the phones and on the streets knocking doors-please come by 8150 W. Emerald and help spread the word about Walt Minnick’s campaign to represent Idaho.

If you can’t make it to the Boise area, you can still participate in your town or even from the comfort of your own home.  Call (208-906-0363) or email Tom Schwarz, and he can send you a call list or a walk packet for your own neighborhood!

We are up against some tough competition in this contest-the big city campaigns have it easier getting volunteers in-but we can win with your help. If half of the people who receive this message come to our Mobilize for Change Knock and Phone Party, we can compete with Charlie Brown’s campaign in Sacramento. With two thirds of you here we could beat Ashwin Madia out of the Minneapolis area, and if we can get three quarters of you we’ll be neck and neck with Darcy Burner out of Seattle. The eyes of the nation are set to judge the dedication of citizens and the campaigns that organize them this weekend-show them that Idaho will stand and deliver!

In these hard times, Idaho needs a leader that it can count on. Walt Minnick is that leader. We can’t afford to wait for a next time or tomorrow - the stakes are too high. The time for action is now. Please join us as a part of a grassroots campaign larger than any Idaho has ever seen-come to our party this Saturday!

Mobilize for Change Knock and Phone Party!
Time: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Location:  Campaign Headquarters at
8150 W. Emerald
Boise, ID 89704
Phone:  208-906-0363

On the road in North-Central Idaho

by John Foster - July 21, 2008

The best part of Walt’s campaign for Congress are the many times we get out of the office and get on the road. Walt spent most of last week in Kamiah, Orofino and Grangeville—three of the most beautiful places in Idaho. Those places also have some of the state’s best people.

We met quite a few military veterans on this trip, including a gentlemen Walt talked with at an event north of Grangeville at the top of Harpster Grade. This man won three Purple Hearts while serving in South Vietnam, and he had some firm ideas about our nation’s priorities.
He told Walt he was ready for us to go after Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. This man said he was ready for the Iraqis to take control of their country. He was ready for the U.S. to get out of Iraq with honor. He was ready for our military to be resupplied and rebuilt. And he wanted the troops to come home and get all the education opportunities our country promised them upon enlistment.

Walt is an Army veteran. Veterans issues are a core reason in his decision to run for Congress, and his conversation with this man reminded him of the lessons and values he learned during his own military service.

“It becomes successful when it becomes family,” Walt said. “Everyone does their fair share. Everyone takes care of each other. You give each other cover. You help each other when you’re down. And you don’t do it because someone tells you to do it—you do it because you’re family.”

Shared hardship. Shared opportunity. Those lessons stuck with Walt though his stint in the military, through his time working in the White House and throughout his tenure at the helm of two successful Idaho companies.

It’s a vision—working together, sharing the load, getting through tough times as a family—that we all want to see from our leaders in Washington, D.C.

That’s what we’ll get with Walt.

Bill Sali’s vote against Medicare - why it matters

by John Foster - July 17, 2008

Yesterday the U.S. Senate followed the lead of the U.S. House of Representatives in overturning the president’s veto of an important Medicare bill.

Randy Stapilus at Ridenbaugh Press wrote about the votes earlier this week. According to his site (one of the best in the Northwest), 162,984 people in Idaho (13.3% of the population) use Medicare. Stapilus also notes Bill Sali’s vote against the override.

On a more personal note, Jill Kuraitis at NewWest.net writes in detail about why the program is so critical: Without Medicare, the astronomical long-term care costs for my mother, who had Alzheimer’s, would have been out of reach for my parents, even though they were not poor. My elderly father would have collapsed under the burden of caring for her. I’m betting that’s a familiar story to many readers. That’s why this political story needs telling.

Groups such as family physicians and the AARP celebrated the vote, and took to task representatives like Sali who voted against the override: ”Today’s vote is a victory for the 44 million Americans who depend on Medicare, and we applaud Maryland’s congressional delegation for their continued support,” Joseph DeMattos, Jr., AARP Maryland Senior State Director. “This bipartisan legislation will help more Americans afford their health care bills while bringing doctors offices and pharmacies into the 21st century with e-prescribing.”

Walt Minnick, Bill Sali in Wall Street Journal

by John Foster - July 15, 2008

Page A3 of the Tuesday Wall Street Journal had a 1,000-word story about the race between Bill Sali and Walt Minnick in Idaho’s First Congressional District. The story is password protected, but you can see a snippet here: Mr. Minnick, who grew up on a Washington state wheat farm, is working to tout his moderate rural credentials. He has posted YouTube videos of himself skeet shooting. He also has conservative, pro-business roots: The former chief executive of wood-products company TJ International Inc., Mr. Minnick was a White House staffer under Richard Nixon from 1971 through 1974. He became a Democrat before his failed run for the U.S. Senate in 1996. Mr. Sali hasn’t tempered his image. At Idaho’s Republican state convention last month, he helped move a riven state party to the right by backing social conservatives and libertarians who ousted moderate party Chairman Kirk Sullivan. Other state Republicans say the shift galvanizes Mr. Sali among right wingers but alienates moderate voters. Since Barack Obama in February drew more than 14,000 supporters to a Boise rally, moderates have worried about rising Democratic turnout. “It’s difficult for any Democrat to win in Idaho,” said Mr. Newcomb, the Republican former state speaker. But Mr. Minnick is “a formidable foe,” he said, who could capitalize on Mr. Sali’s reputation for “poking his finger in people’s eyes.”

Walt Minnick in the news; clips you might have missed

by John Foster - July 12, 2008

We start out with The Hill: “In an e-mail to The Statesman, Otter responded to a question about whether he would try to get even with Sali by saying, ‘Wait and see.’ When asked if he would assist Sali in his campaign, Otter said, ‘Bill Sali and I haven’t discussed his campaign.’”

Next up is Swing State Project: “It’s no secret that Sali has had trouble fundraising, which is why he was added to John Boehner’s ROMP program earlier in the year. But if Sali is going to rely on PACs and his fellow members to bail his ass out against well-funded Democrat Walt Minnick, should he really be insulting one third of the House GOP caucus?”

Walt gets some love at Real Clear Politics: “Every cycle, both parties find a candidate of theirs who fascinates them, even if that candidate’s chances of winning seem remote. For some at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Minnick is that candidate, one who, running in another district, might have an excellent shot at beating a Republican. Instead, insiders insist Minnick has a chance to capitalize on Sali’s mistakes and the downtrodden Republican brand.”

Closer to home, something from the Bonner County Bee: Because the gas issue resonates with so many Idahoans, and because he feels most qualified to address it, Minnick is confident that even in the reddest state in the union, Idahoans will cast their ballots for him in November. “I’m not a Democrat. I’m a conservative Democrat, an Idaho Democrat. That’s a whole lot different than an East Coast or San Francisco Democrat,” Minnick said.

And then there’s this from High Country News: In choosing Minnick, Idaho Democrats shrewdly followed the Democratic National Committee’s successful 2006 formula for selecting candidates in conservative districts. While he may feel out of place among party activists or ideologues in Aspen or the Berkeley Hills, Minnick is a good ideological fit for the 1st District.

Bill Sali taking a beating in the blogosphere

by John Foster - July 10, 2008

An anonymous resident of Shoshone County has had enough of our current congressman, and has started a new blog devoted to detailing Bill Sali’s lack of success representing Idaho. (Click here to read the blog.) A recent post takes Sali to task: “Bill Sali voted against legislation that would delay scheduled payment cuts of more than 10% to physicians - cuts that would reduce Medicare participant’s access to doctors. He showed how small minded he was, and again it was a partisan vote with 335 Members voting yes because they like Senior Citizens and 59 Members (who might just be on their way out of office in November) voting No.”

Another blog, called MainStreetIdaho, criticizes Sali for not only supporting companies, but actively defending them from the thousands of Idahoans frustrated by high gas prices. (Click here to read the blog.) A recent post asks a simple question: “Why don’t we have any elected leader that will stand up to the oily boys?”

Spending time on the family farm

by John Foster - July 10, 2008

Walt and his son Dixon spent a recent weekend at the farm where Walt grew up. The farm is still in the family, and Walt goes back regularly to help oversee the operation. Here are some photos from the most recent visit ....

On health care

by John Foster - July 01, 2008

One of the high points of the campaign last week was a visit to the Kootenai Medical Center in Coeur d’Alene. The public hospital network is the largest employer in the largest sector of North Idaho’s economy and provides health care to most of the area’s residents.

Joe Morris has been CEO for decades, and has established himself as a regional leader in health care. As one national business publication put it: He’s been at the helm of KMC for its two biggest expansions in the last 20 years, essentially overseeing the creation of the hospital that North Idaho residents know and use today.

Kootenai Medical Center is a public district hospital, but has taken no tax money since 1995.  That’s one reason why Morris and his team spend a lot of time on collaborative efforts with local hospitals in the region. They meet with facilities in Kellogg, Bonner’s Ferry and Sandpoint to plan as a group based on the collective needs of their hospitals and the region.

KMC is also focused on efficiency. New technology has the potential to radically change health care and help lower overall costs to consumers. For example, a shift to electronic records allows physicians to share information in real-time. North Idaho has become a leader in the effort, Morris said, with 33 hospitals on one system.

“We’re where the rest of the country is trying to go,” he said.

Morris serves on the governor’s Health Quality Planning Commission. He had high praise for Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter, but Morris told Walt he was frustrated with gridlock in Washington, D.C., and the way that gridlock has hindered progress on our nation’s health care system.

“For every inefficiency in the system, there is someone lobbying for that inefficiency,” Morris said.

The inefficiencies are hurting Idaho. Medicare will be bankrupt in 10 years unless changes are made, Morris said, and he estimates that 18 to 20 percent of people in North Idaho have no health insurance.

Walt’s visit reinforced Idaho’s need for more pragmatism and practical problem-solving in Washington, D.C. Over the last decade there has been a lot of talk about solving the growing problems with health insurance and health care costs, but Congress hasn’t made much progress.

It’s another reason this election is so important - the time for talk is over. People like Joe Morris and his thousands of employees - plus Idaho’s uninsured - are looking for solutions. 

Meeting entrepreneurs in Post Falls

by John Foster - June 30, 2008

Economic development is one of the most important things a Congressman can do for his district and his state. A representative with decades of experience in business would have a unique skill set for helping Idaho companies.

That’s one reason Walt Minnick is running for Congress, and it’s why he spent a day last week touring North Idaho businesses that are doing well, and that would add millions more to Idaho’s economy with the right kind of leadership and insight from a new First District Congressman.

The day started with the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, where Tribal Chairman Chief Allan and his staff took Walt on a tour of the Wellness Center before taking showing off the Tribe’s newest company, Berg Integrated Systems. The company recently invested $6 million in capital improvements to take full advantage of its $400 million contract with the Department of Defense for manufacturing the company’s collapsible fuel storage bladders. The contract has allowed Berg Integrated Systems to grow from six employees to 60 people with good-paying Idaho jobs.

Next Walt visited the University of Idaho Research Park in Post Falls. Since 2002, the Park has linked the University with the North Idaho business community. Not only do facilities there help businesses by fostering development, they also house degree classes in engineering, geology, geography, education, nutrition and biochemistry. (The Research Park also houses the Buck Knives plant, which we got to tour and where the picture below was taken.)

At the Jacklin Science and Technology Building in the Research Park, a handful of companies and researchers are making real strides in everything from nanotechnology to software development. Sentry Dynamics uses the Research Park laboratory for its GIS services and training. TechConnect helps clients with tech transfer, licensing and acquiring capital. And Quest Integration is helping develop new approaches to computer-aided design.

But one of the best success stories is Ednetics, a company founded by a University of Idaho engineering student who wanted to help schools better utilize technology. Sean Swanby is still running the company 11 years later. He told Walt yesterday that he “wasn’t VC [venture capital] funded, he was Visa-funded.” A couple of credit cards and a small apartment in Moscow have grown into a 24-employee operation housed in the Jacklin Building.

In fact, Ednetics was the first tenant in that building and has served as an anchor that’s allowed others to come in and enjoy the benefits of top-notch infrastructure. Swanby, a Kuna native, has kept the company in Idaho despite a constant push from within his industry for the company to relocate to Seattle, and despite the fact that Ednetics pulls a large amount of business to Idaho from across the state line in Washington.

It’s a real Idaho success story. Home-grown, based in Idaho and adding millions to our economy. It’s exactly what this state needs, and we need a Congressman who can help grow and develop many more just like it.

Spending a day in Sandpoint

by John Foster - June 26, 2008

Day three of Walt Minnick’s campaign swing through North Idaho took him to Sandpoint, where he had lunch at the Rotary Club and toured the local outdoor market.

Energy and the economy are most on the minds of voters, and people are worried. At the Rotary Club, Walt heard from small-business owners who are struggling to keep up with rising fuel prices. At the market, Walt heard from people who are seeing increased interest in locally grown produce as a counter to soaring food prices.

Walt heard similar stories during his main campaign stop of the day, a tour of the Litehouse Foods facility in Sandpoint. Litehouse is a local company founded more than four decades ago by two brothers whose families still run the company today.

From its humble beginnings, Litehouse has grown to be one of the largest employers in North Idaho. They have 370 workers at their manufacturing facility in Sandpoint, where the company produces popular salad dressings and other condiments sold all over the United States.

Walt toured the production facility, where 16-ounce bottles of ranch dressing are filled in the blink of an eye, whipped down the assembly line to be labeled and then boxed up for shipping.

After the tour we met people on the business side and spent some time with Bill Hawkins, the great-nephew of the brothers who founded the company a generation ago. One of Bill’s jobs is to purchase the raw materials needed to make the dressings. He’s seen the cost of goods gradually increase as the price of gas has gone up.

Walt and Bill talked about the role speculators play in the rise of fuel costs. According to one recent report, speculators are worried about the rising demand in India and China, and are worried that supply won’t be able to keep up. Those speculators are basing their investments on a future that involves a lot more of what got us here in the first place, and it’s one factor pushing prices to the record levels we see today.

Changing that mentality takes leadership. That’s why a high point of the trip was learning that Litehouse is not just sitting back, but are working to help solve our nation’s energy problems in their own unique way. Before mixing up a batch of dressing, the company has to flush out large vats on their production floor. Rather than throw out the waste product, the company saves it all for conversion into biodiesel.

It’s a simple step, but an important one. The company looked at every solution to get every bit of usefulness from the businesses. That’s the kind of approach we need in Congress and in Washington, D.C., to solve our oil crisis and take this country into a new age of energy independence. 

News roundup

by John Foster - June 26, 2008

Bill Sali held a telephone town-hall earlier this week to talk about gas prices. Funny how he didn’t mention on the call that just hours before he had voted against a bill aimed at cracking down on price gouging at the pump. But that’s OK—we let people know:

“In 2002, while in the Idaho Legislature, Sali voted against a price-gouging bill. But as recently as Saturday, he said at a press conference that our country needs ‘bipartisan solutions’ to help lower prices at the pump,” [Minnick campaign manager Adam] Harris said. “Sali showed today that the only thing he’s learned in Washington is how to use political spin on Idaho voters.”

The Moscow-Pullman Daily News wrote about Walt’s visit Monday to the University of Idaho. (Apologies, but their site is password-protected.) Here’s a snippet:

Walt Minnick got a firsthand look at the University of Idaho’s various research endeavors related to alternative energy resources and more efficient uses of fuel during a visit to Moscow on Monday.

Next is an interesting story out of Utah, where an incumbent Republican Congressman was defeated in the Republican primary by his radical opponent. Ignoring the moderate feelings of the vast majority of voters and appeasing only a handful of radical supporters—sound familiar?

Be sure to check out a new blog called BillSaliHatesIdaho.com. It’s written by a group of self-professed conservatives who are fed up with Sali’s ineffectiveness:

We are a group of anonymous individuals who are tired of Bill Sali parading around like he loves the state he was elected to represent. So to counteract his campaign of disinformation - we have set up this Blog/Website. So Stay tuned as we decide to bring more information to elect somebody - Hell, ANYBODY else to replace him so that the first legislative district in Idaho has fair representation in Washington D.C.

The Idaho Statesman ran a print version of our campaign blog post on Sali’s contribution to the gridlock in Washington, D.C. That gridlock is also on the mind of Statesman editorial page editor Kevin Richert:

I’d call it gridlock, but with gas at $4 a gallon, I can scarcely afford to think about gridlock. The irony here is that I’m not sure either of the warring factions have hit on a winner. Offshore drilling isn’t the surefire answer - especially not in the short term. Anti-gouging legislation offers a little short-term promise and probably should be on the books. But let’s be realistic. A federal gouging law also will do a lot to keep gas in trial lawyers’ BMWs. Yippee. This is the unseemly backbiting that makes Congress unpopular. And it ought to. People are paying $4 a gallon for gas - if they catch a bargain. They’re mad. Many of ‘em couldn’t care less who they’re mad at. So, do you have any money left over from that silly economic stimulus check Congress sent you this year? Let me suggest investing in a bike. See you out there; I’ll be the guy on your left ...

On an influential national political blog, a writer is considering whether to put Walt on his list of candidates deserving of financial support.

Finally, Walt was interviewed yesterday by the Bonner County Daily Bee and the Sandpoint Reader. Articles about Walt’s campaign are coming soon from both of those papers.

Walt in Wallace

by John Foster - June 24, 2008

Did you know the schools in Shoshone County can’t buy a new bus for next year? And that they won’t get a new roof this summer for one of their elementary schools? They don’t have the money, because Congress has so far failed to act on its promise to help rural counties that are struggling with their federal lands.

That’s what Walt heard today on a visit to Wallace. (I’m posting today from Josie’s Full of Beans in beautiful downtown Kellogg. I’m getting in a little computer time while Walt is canvassing the town.)

Idaho counties with large percentages of federal land—and school districts within those counties—can’t tax that land. And if the biggest landowner in the county can get away without paying its fair share, everyone suffers. That’s why the federal government gave those counties a share payments from timber harvests. When those harvests dropped off in the late 90s, the federal government stepped up with payments for their fair share of local taxes. The funding was critical, and keeps many of Idaho’s rural counties afloat.

But the current Congress has yet to pass legislation to extend the program for another year. A recent measure went down in defeat—thanks in part to Bill Sali voting against it. His vote and his inability to work across party lines to solve this problem for rural Idaho could have devastating effects on rural Idaho. But we can do something about it. We can defeat Bill Sali, send Walt Minnick to Congress and have a representative who wants to get things done for everyone in Idaho.

Walt tours the University of Idaho

by John Foster - June 24, 2008

University of Idaho Interim President Steven Daley-Larsen is at the forefront of an effort to make the university a recognized national leader in moving the country to a new era of solutions in conservation, in energy and in our approach to natural resources.

He and his team were gracious hosts, and set up an informative and interesting day on the Moscow campus. We started at the Wood Utilization Research program, a unique entity that’s one of the best in the United States at finding new ways to efficiently use timber and forest-harvest byproducts. Their research also includes creating new biodegradable materials to be used for plastic bags and bottles. The program gives its students skills much needed in the natural resources industry, which is why 90 percent of graduates have good-paying jobs immediately after school.

Walt founded a nursery business, so our visit with the head of the University Center for Forest Nursery and Seedling Research was fun. Since 1908, the center has been a world leader in the science of reforestation. When an area is lost to fire, replanting is often more art and intuition than science. The research center in Moscow is changing that by determining which seedlings are best to grow in certain situations, thus improving the health of Idaho forests. The center is also helping address the effects of climate change by modeling which species of tree have the most likelihood of success over the next 30 years of changing ecosystems in Idaho.

At the biodiesel program in the College of Engineering, scientists are researching and using a federal grant to spread the word and educate the public. At a garage nearby, another team of students and professors are studying ways to operate more efficient and innovative hybrids. They have a Hummer that gets 20 miles to the gallon, and a race-winning hybrid snowmobile with far lower emissions than a standard machine. We also visited the Office of Technology transfer, where a team helps university researchers turn their ideas and findings into patents, resources for business and entrepreneurial ventures.

What did we learn? That Idaho’s First Congressional District needs a Congressman who can open doors in Washington. Our state is rich with top-notch education leaders and researchers who can contribute to solutions on the important issues of the day. Whether it’s providing knowledge, research or possibilities, the University of Idaho has much to contribute.

With Walt as our next Congressman, Idaho schools and universities will have a real partner with a deep background in the value a university can offer a state, its citizens, its communities and its businesses. He’ll be a champion for those causes on Capitol Hill. 

Fallout from the Sali rift with Idaho Republicans

by John Foster - June 23, 2008

Dan Popkey’s column last Sunday caught the eyes of several reporters in Washington, D.C.

From The Hill: Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter (R) hinted over the weekend that he might not support his successor in Congress this cycle, according to The Idaho Statesman.

From Real Clear Politics: Every cycle, both parties find a candidate of theirs who fascinates them, even if that candidate’s chances of winning seem remote. For some at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Minnick is that candidate, one who, running in another district, might have an excellent shot at beating a Republican. Instead, insiders insist Minnick has a chance to capitalize on Sali’s mistakes and the downtrodden Republican brand.

From Hotline: Hell Hath No Fury Than A Gov Scorned

From Politics1: Governor Butch Otter (R) is hinting he may work behind the scenes to defeat bombastic freshman Congressman Bill Sali (R) in November. Otter is upset that Sali backed a candidate against Otter’s preferred choice for State Republican Chair. Otter’s candidate lost, setting off a new round of open warfare between the two men who have never been close. When the Idaho Statesman asked Otter—who formerly held the CD-1 seat—if he was planning to get even with Sali, Otter responded by email: “Wait and see.” Sali is facing an aggressive challenge from wealthy businessman Walt Minnick.

From the Swing State Project: It’s no secret that Sali has had trouble fundraising, which is why he was added to John Boehner’s ROMP program earlier in the year. But if Sali is going to rely on PACs and his fellow members to bail his ass out against well-funded Democrat Walt Minnick, should he really be insulting one third of the House GOP caucus? 

And then there’s this from Politico: Rep. Bill Sali (R-Idaho), addressing a gathering at the Shake the Nation rally in Idaho on May 16, told those assembled that he goes “to work in a place that, well, it’s quite a mess: your nation’s capital.”

“I tell people,” he said, “ ‘As bad as you ever thought it was, just know it’s a lot worse.’ In spite of that, I work with a group of probably around 130 people that are very good folks, people that I look up to, that I respect a great deal, people who would be quite comfortable sitting in these pews on a Sunday. I hope you’re encouraged by that.”

“It’s not a majority,” he went on. “But if you put 70 or 80 more of those folks in power it would be. Do you believe God could do that for this country? I do. Do you believe we deserve it as a country? Not really. Do you believe that God wants to bless this country still? I do. We’ve got to get a few things straightened out.”

Monday morning news roundup

by John Foster - June 23, 2008

The latest news about and related to the race for Idaho’s First Congressional District seat:

- Idaho Statesman investigative reporter and political columnist Dan Popkey writes about the fallout from Bill Sali’s orchestrated takeover of the Idaho Republican Party: It’s unclear how Otter will respond. He was unavailable for an interview last week, but did reply to my e-mail. Asked about getting even, he wrote, “Wait and see.” Read more here.

- The Associated Press (via the Idaho Press-Tribune) writes about the differences between Bill Sali and Walt Minnick on energy policy: Minnick spokesman John Foster said Sali hasn’t come up with workable energy solutions. “He’s been in Congress for 18 months and he’s just getting around to talking about energy prices,” Foster said. “It was a problem when gas was $2.50 a gallon.” Read more here

- And New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman rips the president for his failure to support a comprehensive energy bill also opposed by Sali: That bill is H.R. 6049 — “The Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act of 2008,” which extends for another eight years the investment tax credit for installing solar energy and extends for one year the production tax credit for producing wind power and for three years the credits for geothermal, wave energy and other renewables. These critical tax credits for renewables are set to expire at the end of this fiscal year and, if they do, it will mean thousands of jobs lost and billions of dollars of investments not made. “Already clean energy projects in the U.S. are being put on hold,” said Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association. Read more here

The best pie auction in Idaho

by John Foster - June 22, 2008

Day one of our North Idaho campaign swing began with a drive to Grangeville, where the Idaho County Democrats were holding their annual picnic and pie auction. We’d been hearing about this auction for months because some of the pies go for more than $100. This year didn’t disappoint. We managed to bid high enough on a rhubarb, an apple and a pecan, and now won’t be lacking sustenance for, oh, at least a day.

Ignoring our veterans - a national shame

by John Foster - June 17, 2008

From the Associated Press:

The injury alone didn’t put him in a homeless shelter. Instead, it was military bureaucracy - specifically, the way injured soldiers are discharged on just a fraction of their salary and then forced to wait six to nine months, and sometimes even more than a year, before their full disability payments begin to flow. “When I got out, I hate to say it, but man, that was it. Everybody just kind of washed their hands of me, and it was like, `OK, you’re on your own,’” said Stevens, who was discharged in November and was in a shelter by February. He has since moved into a temporary San Antonio apartment with help from Operation Homefront, a nonprofit organization.

Read the entire story here.

Monday news update

by John Foster - June 16, 2008

Plenty of campaign-related stories from around the First Congressional District.

First, congratulations to the Idaho Democratic Party on the most successful convention in decades. And to you Republicans frustrated with your own state party, you’re welcomed to join conservative Idaho Democrat Walt Minnick’s campaign.
- Idaho GOP: Now Under New Chairmanship Spokesman-Review
- Idaho Dems Send Diverse Group to Denver Idaho Statesman

The bad news keeps coming for Bill Sali, as yet another national political reporter declares him vulnerable.
- ‘Bill Sali is being challenged by a surprisingly formidable Walt Minnick ...’ Huffington Post

And another newspaper is reporting on Sali’s inability to help Idaho communities facing devastation from the expiration of the Craig-Wyden Act.
- Timber Payment Bluster Boise Weekly

Lettters, we get letters. We get stacks and stacks of letters.

by John Foster - June 09, 2008

Sigh.

Another rough week for poor Bill Sali. First he gets grief for not supporting expansion of benefits for Iraq War veterans even though he never served himself. (I mean, c’mon! Who’d hold that against someone?) Then he gets zero credit for being the third (or fourth or fifth—we lose track) Congressman to DEMAND that some guys stop using an offensive slogan. In fact, he got so little credit that he needs to pass a law to get credit! Tough stuff. Then his friends and benefactors in Washington. D.C., lean on him to vote directly against the people who sent him to Congress in the first place. And now, gosh darn it, people are calling him on it. The people who wrote the three letters in today’s Idaho Statesman REALLY need to cut poor Bill a break:

Sali should represent ALL Idahoans

Thank you, Bill Sali, for telling us where your allegiances lie. I suspected it, but until you told me, I just wasn’t positive. Yes, your allegiance lies with The National Taxpayers’ Union, and it’s easy to guess what levels of income those folks represent. You also got your “A” rating from the National Rifle Association, one of the most virulent interest groups in our country. Oh, I liked the “Best and Brightest” designation from the American Conservative Union. You are really their sycophant. The “Spirit of Enterprise Award” from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a new one on me. Makes me wonder what sort of “enterprise” those big business people are referring to. And the “A in English” award for your efforts to make English “our"official language points a genuine American finger at you and your other paranoid xenophobes.

I really don’t need to point out that your allegiances overlook that you were to represent all of us in Idaho. So, thanks for letting us know.

- E. COSTON FREDERICK, Boise

Sali should have supported changes to GI Bill

In typical ignorance, Rep. Bill Sali sent a campaign e-mail filled with his defense of his vote against the update of the GI Bill. The same day, Memorial Day, Congressman Sali gave a speech at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery.

The troops who fight in a worthless war and put their lives on the line deserve better than Bill Sali’s disrespect. Sali, who has never served his country in the military, will never know the feeling of being pinned down under fire. By consistently voting to give President Bush a blank check on the war, and by voting against a bill that will benefit troops, Bill Sali does not support the troops. In typical Sali fashion, he voted against a bill because it would make himself and the rich Washington donors have to pay more in their taxes.

Electing Bill Sali was the biggest mistake that Idaho has ever made. When we elected him, we elected a bumbling, incompetent and insensitive person to hold an important office. I am ashamed of the Idaho voters. In November, vote for the candidate that will accurately represent Idaho’s views. Vote for a change from typical Washington politicking. Vote Bill Sali out of office. Vote for Walt Minnick.

- RYAN HAND, Boise

Without Sali, who would keep the ATF in line?

Bill Sali sure straightened the ATF out. Forcing them to discontinue a heinous practice singlehandedly.

Kind of like the rooster that thought every time he crowed the sun came up.

- ROY MOULTON, Kuna

Sali vote a stunner

by John Foster - June 05, 2008

Time after time after time, Bill Sali has claimed that he supports funding for rural Idaho schools and counties struggling to stay afloat. He has professed strong support for measures to extend and reform Craig-Wyden funding for those entities, still reeling from the drastic curtailment of timber harvests. In Shoshone County, for example, those federal funds account for two-thirds of the county’s operating budget.

So it was shocking to see him today vote against the very bill he supported in committee last year.

Counties and school districts have lived in constant fear since the Craig-Wyden funding expired. Congress passed an extension in 2007, but nothing had been passed for this year in part because many demanded that the measure not be attached to another spending bill, and that it not include earmarks.

Well, just such a bill came before the U.S. House of Representatives today. It needed a 2/3 vote to pass and go onto the Senate. Although it did receive a majority, it didn’t get the 2/3 needed in part because Idaho Congressman Bill Sali voted against it. Why? Perhaps it’s because the bill paid for the funding by closing a loophole that allows oil companies to avoid paying royalties on their Gulf of Mexico leases.

As one county person said, “Funny, but I thought Bill Sali was supposed to represent Idaho—not Big Oil.”

Click here to read our press release and a full list of the previous supportive statements from Sali.

Hmmmm, where have we seen this before?

by John Foster - June 04, 2008

From CNN:

McCain Challenges Obama To Town Hall Debates

“What a welcome change it would be were presidential candidates in our time to treat each other and the people they seek to lead with respect and courtesy as they discussed the great issues of the day, without the empty sound bites and media-filtered exchanges that dominate our elections,” McCain said in a letter to Obama released by McCain’s campaign.

For the record, we have heard no response—formal or informal—from the Sali campaign about our own invitation to a series of town hall debates in the First Congressional District.

Read more about those town halls in the Spokesman Review, the Idaho Statesman and KTRV/Fox12.

A few photos from Walt’s day at the range

by John Foster - June 03, 2008

Credits to our excellent campaign photographer/videographer, Tashi Dondup:

Losing a good one

by John Foster - June 03, 2008

Before getting into politics in 2007, I spent more than a dozen years as a journalist. One of my first paying gigs was writing for the Boise Weekly, and as a result I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for that paper. (Even tried to buy it once, but that’s another story.)

So over the last couple years I’ve enjoyed watching my friend Shea Andersen first write for and then edit that paper, and take it to a whole new level of political coverage. Under Shea’s tenure, the Weekly has become a must-read for political news—particularly coverage of the legislature. While I was editing the Idaho Business Review in 2006, Shea’s coverage of the Grant/Sali race was second-to-none.

I first met Shea when we were both working newspapers in New Mexico, and we got to be friends when we both found ourselves back in Boise. As a fellow journalist, he was a trusted resource, competitor and confidant. When I moved over to the “other side” he cut me no slack, but artfully managed to maintain our friendship.

Last week’s cover story was the Shea’s last for the Boise Weekly. It is a fitting goodbye—all about the shifting political landscape of the Mountain West.

“The new demographic profiling, known as microtargeting, helped Democrats dig into voter rolls and find advantages they didn’t know they had, and helped them make targeted appeals to niche voter areas. The online political magazine Politico said that effort expanded that state’s Democratic voter rolls by some 15,000 residents.”

“It’s a system that Republicans have used to great effect in campaigns past. In 2004, the New Mexico re-election campaign for President Bush showed off a phone bank campaign system that paired niche voter segments with volunteers who had similar backgrounds. If they were going to be targeting a list of voters who had identified themselves in previous elections as, say, Vietnam veterans, then the campaign would find volunteers with a similar background to reach out to them.”

“And it worked. Although New Mexico was a true swing state in 2004, Bush nonetheless beat Democrat John Kerry there, despite the support and endorsement of New Mexico’s popular Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson.”

Shea is headed back up to Ketchum to serve as editor of the paper that first brought him to Idaho, the Mountain Express. It’s a loss for the Treasure Valley—we’re saying goodbye to one of our best political reporters, someone who wrote for a paper everyone identified as “left-leaning” but who nevertheless managed to play it straight and earn respect from all sides.

Good luck, Shea. From me and from everyone on the Minnick campaign. 

A roundup of recent campaign news

by John Foster - June 02, 2008

Here are a few news stories you might have missed last week:

- Minnick Campaign Event Sends Message to Congress, Idaho Statesman, 6/2
- ATF confirms Sali had nothing to do with change of slogan, Associated Press, 6/1
- Minnick invites Sali to join him at series of Town Hall meetings, KIVI.com, 5/28
- Sali, Minnick claim momentum after Primary Election victories, KTVB.com, 5/28
- Is Sali vulnerable in Idaho?, The Politico, 5/28

An invitation to Bill Sali: Let’s talk to voters together

by John Foster - May 28, 2008

Walt held a press conference today to offer Bill Sali the chance to collaborate on a series of town hall meetings in the First Congressional District.

Click here to read the press release.

Here’s a quote from today’s event:

“Bill Sali and I may disagree on many issues, but I hope he agrees with the belief that voters deserve every opportunity to share their concerns and hear from the candidates,” Minnick said. 

Here is the tentative schedule, but it may change at Sali’s request should he accept the invitation:

Proposed Minnick/Sali Town Hall Forums

Nampa - Civic Center - July 5
Post Falls - library - July 11
Moscow - TBA - July 18
Lewiston - Williams Conference Center - July 19
Caldwell - College of Idaho - July 26
Eagle - Nazarene Church - August 8 or 9
Coeur d’Alene - library - August 15 (afternoon)
Sandpoint - community hall - August 15 (evening)
McCall - high school - TBA
Meridian - United Methodist Church - TBA

Press release: Sali plays politics before Memorial Day ceremony

by John Foster - May 27, 2008

We just issued a press release about an e-mail from the Bill Sali campaign that went out moments before Sali spoke at a ceremony honoring our nation’s veterans.

Moments before the Congressman spoke to a crowd of veterans and well-wishers at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery, the Sali election campaign sent out an e-mail urging people to vote for him in the Primary Election.

“Sali is not a veteran, which I presume accounts for such a shameful lapse in judgment,” said Adam Harris, Minnick’s campaign manager. “Sali made a political pitch against both his primary opponent and against Walt Minnick, both of whom are veterans. That is unacceptable, especially as it was apparently timed to coincide with what should be a solemn ceremony to honor those who gave their lives for freedom.

The full release is available here

Listen to Walt’s interview this morning

by John Foster - May 27, 2008

In case you missed it, Walt was interviewed for about 15 minutes this morning on Boise station KFXD by hosts Jon Duane and Chris Kelly.

They have a copy of the interview available on their website. Visit www.KFXD.com and scroll down the page to hear the interview. 

News update from around the District

by John Foster - May 26, 2008

Among the latest press on the First Congressional District race:

- Minnick comment on death of J.R. Simplot, Idaho Press-Tribune, May 26
- Republican voters unsure about Sali, Ridenbaugh Press, May 26
- Another paper declines to endorse Sali, Bonner County Daily Bee, May 25,
- “Cultural conservative” runs as Democrat in Idaho, The Hill, May 22
- Sali had nothing to do with ATF motto, Idaho Press-Tribune, May 20

Vote at the polls—and then vote online!

by John Foster - May 26, 2008


Your votes can help bring General Wes Clark to Idaho.

Democrats Work is an organization devoted to service projects around the country. One of their strongest supporters is former presidential candidate General Wesley Clark.

The general is offering to visit a U.S. Congressional District to partner with a Democratic campaign and perform a service project in a local community. The winning District will be selected via online vote!

Click here to learn more about the program, and click here to vote for Walt!

A beautiful Memorial Day

by John Foster - May 26, 2008

We had a great time today at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery, where hundreds gathered near the Eagle foothills to pay tribute to those who served. Walt had this to say after the event:

“On days like today, we all remember those who served,” Minnick said. “But it’s tomorrow, and the next week and the next month, that define how we truly feel about veterans. Honoring them one day a year is not enough. We must also make sure they have top-notch health care and access to a wide range of educational and training opportunities. And we must fulfill every promise made when they enlisted and served.”

After the ceremony, we headed to Veterans Park in Boise for the annual picnic put on by the local post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Walt spent the afternoon hearing stories, telling a few of his own (he served in the U.S. Army during Vietnam) and talking to people about critical issues facing our veterans.

There was extensive media coverage of the day’s events. Read more at the Fox 12 News website and at KTVB.com. And for a very cool treat, check out the special photo slideshow at IdahoStatesman.com. They took a series of photos at the State Veterans Cemetery during the final hour of daylight. The results are stunning.

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