Friday, July 19, 2024

Simpson steps up again to protect Idaho’s interests in Congress

by JIM JONES / Special to the Herald
| October 26, 2023 1:00 AM

Dorothy Moon, the chair of the Idaho Republican Party, has been attacking Congressman Mike Simpson for his refusal to support Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH) for Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Simpson responded in typical fashion, saying, “I will not take Chairwoman Moon’s ill-advised input when I have been fighting for Idaho longer than she has lived in the state.” As usual, he speaks the truth.

In his response, Simpson pointed out that Jordan has “repeatedly taken positions against Idaho’s best interests” in Congress. He criticized Jordan’s continuous opposition to funding for the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) in Eastern Idaho, his repeated votes against the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program that is so vital to many of Idaho’s rural counties, his opposition to full funding of wildfire suppression, his opposition to every Farm Bill and his repeated votes against funding of Gowen Field, Mountain Home Air Force Base and “overall pay raises for our troops.” 

 As leader of the House Freedom Caucus, which he founded with Raul Labrador and several other far-right Congressmen in 2015, Jordan has also rallied support for these positions that are contrary to Idaho’s interests. They joined together to oppose the Affordable Care Act, INL funding and the PILT program. Simpson challenged their opposition to the PILT program in 2015, saying: “This kind of bill represents exactly what the American people want to see out of their elected representatives. They want us to fix problems, not to shout across the aisle and point fingers.”

There were many other valid reasons to keep Jordan as far away from the Speaker’s chair as possible. The claim that Jordan “turned a blind eye” to sexual abuse of athletes at Ohio State when he served there as a wrestling coach from 1986 to 1994 speaks volumes. A report commissioned by the university disclosed that 177 athletes had been abused over a number of years, but Jordan did not see fit to report it.

In addition to his apparent moral failings, Jordan has refused to abide by important principles of our constitutional government. He has steadfastly refused to acknowledge that Joe Biden was elected as President of the United States in 2020. There is absolutely no credible evidence to support Jordan’s fanatical position. Every court that has considered the issue has turned away challenges to the election. Even the three Trump-appointed Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court joined with the others in turning away appeals by Trump, Jordan and their allies. It is hard to imagine a Speaker who would put his own distorted beliefs over the considered findings of America’s judiciary.

On the other hand, Simpson has shown himself to be courageous when it comes to putting the interests of the nation over the self-serving interests of far-right extremists like Jordan. In 2010, I watched Mike forcefully defend his 2008 vote to fund the government bailout of the economy at a GOP meeting in Soda Springs where the audience was clearly against the bailout. He’s not a wishy-washy kind of guy.

Although I have often been confounded by votes or stands taken by Mike on a variety of issues, he then comes through with another vote or stand that reinforces the fact that he is the most effective, level-headed member of Idaho’s Congressional delegation. He protected the magnificent White Clouds. He is the only member of the delegation who has advanced a plan that has the potential to save our remarkable runs of salmon and steelheads from extinction–removal of the four federal dams on the lower Snake River. He knew he would take massive heat for his proposal, but went forward anyway, believing it to be the right thing to do.

The criticism by Moon and her cohorts is uninformed and wrongheaded. It could be that Moon is unfamiliar with Simpson’s record on issues of importance to Idaho because she is too busy churning out nonsense on fake culture war issues. Whatever the problem, she and her followers should settle down, study the real issues confronting the state, and join those of us who appreciate Mike.

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Jim Jones is a Vietnam combat veteran who served 8 years as Idaho Attorney General (1983-1991) and 12 years as a Justice on the Idaho Supreme Court (2005-2017). His columns are collected at