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Guest Column–Brian Almon: In Defense of Lobbying

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January 28, 2023

In Defense of Lobbying

By: Brian Almon

Brian Almon

Lobbying as a profession has a really bad rap these days, and deservedly so. We pin a lot of the problems in politics today to high-powered lobbyists wining and dining our elected officials, diverting them from their job of representing the people and instead passing laws for the benefit of big businesses and special interests.

That’s all true, actually. Wander into the Capitol any given morning and you’ll find lobbyists in nice suits and green name tags chatting up legislators and handing out treats. Our elected representatives do not lack for dining options in the evening, either. We can only imagine what kinds of deals are made behind closed doors.

That said, would it surprise you to learn that I am technically a lobbyist now?

It’s true. As an employee of the Idaho Freedom Foundation I was required to register as a lobbyist, both for IFF itself and for Idaho Freedom Action, just in case I do any work for them in the course of my duties. My green name tag will be ready any day now.

 

 

Despite its bad reputation, lobbying is a necessary part of politics. In fact, lobbying is explicitly protected by the 1st Amendment. Everyone knows the parts about freedom of speech and freedom of religion, but the last clause says, “…and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Every citizen of the United States of America has a right to petition their government, whether at the federal, state, or municipal level. We have the right to demand redress of grievances, to urge them to approve or reject certain laws, or to simply tell them what we think of their performance as our elected representatives.

There are a few hurdles in the way of exercising that right: first, we have a finite number of elected representatives who have a finite amount of time. Second, citizens have a finite amount of time as well, and talking to politicians is not high on many peoples’ list of hobbies.

Lobbying is the solution to both problems. At its most basic level, lobbying involves one person speaking to our government on behalf of many. A group of people pool their money and hire one spokesman to take their concerns to the Capitol. A corporation with an interest regarding a proposed law hires an advocate to urge the legislature to vote a certain way. Activists select one person to speak for them to our elected representatives.

Unfortunately, politics today is full of massive corporations, PACs, and other organizations that have seemingly unlimited money to pour into their lobbying efforts. These groups often hire former politicians who not only know the system but have preexisting relationships with the people in power.

Should that be legal? Should someone be able to serve in elected office and then immediately transition to lobbying his former colleagues?

Some Idaho representatives don’t think so. Republican Rep. Jaron Crane and Democratic Rep. John Gannon have introduced a bill that would ban legislators and executive branch employees from registering as lobbyists for the session following their exit from public office. They explain that “This legislation helps to prevent conflicts of interest that may occur as a legislator transitions out of office and helps to promote public confidence in the legislative process.”

 

 

Sounds simple, right? When President Trump suggested banning congressmen from lobbying for five years after leaving office it was well received by conservatives. Nobody likes the idea of elected representatives who cash their time in office in exchange for a cushy job selling ideas to their former colleagues. For one thing, who knows how much the prospect of such a job affected their votes while in office?

Would it affect your opinion to know that this law would have kept former Representative Ron Nate from working for the Idaho Freedom Foundation this year?

Maybe that doesn’t change anything, but it’s something to consider. Not all lobbyists work for mega-corporations and super PACs. Many speak on behalf of organizations that advocate for much better causes.

As I said above, as an employee of the IFF I will have my own green name tag, and I am registered with the state. Unlike most lobbyists, who go to the Capitol asking for favorable regulations or taxpayer expenditures for their clients, IFF goes there demanding smaller government, lower taxes, and more liberty for the people of Idaho. Does it make sense to curtail pro-liberty organizations with a bill meant to stop megacorps and super PACs?

IFF’s score for the bill is -1, meaning it restricts liberty in some fashion. Parrish Miller wrote that, “These restrictions place unnecessary and unconstitutional constraints on multiple individual rights, including freedom of speech, contract, and association.”

This is not simply self-preservation on our part. Friends will tell you that I have been making this same argument for years, before I ever had any inkling of working for IFF. The way I see it is that we either follow the principles of our Constitution and Bill of Rights, or we don’t. We rightly condemn leftists who twist the words of the 2nd Amendment to restrict our right to bear arms in self defense, so we should apply the same heuristic to the words of the 1st Amendment as well.

 

 

Curtailing lobbying is something that sounds good in theory but breaks down in practice. Ironically, a law like this probably helps the big PACs and corporations more than hurts them, because they can still afford the best lobbyists money can buy, while the Ron Nates and Christy Zitos of the world would be barred from working on behalf of smaller pro-liberty organizations.

The solution to the problems of lobbying is not more regulation, but more speech. IACI can hire all the powerful lobbyists they want but they are no match for a committee hearing room full of engaged citizens speaking knowledgeably and passionately about subjects that affect their lives. We cannot assume that our politicians will do the right thing on their own – we must get down there and remind them of who they work for.

Another answer to the problems regarding lobbying is sunshine and transparency. As with campaign finance, Idaho requires all lobbyists to register with the state and report their activities. Click here to read the Secretary of State’s FAQ regarding lobbying, and click here to browse the list of registered lobbyists.

Lobbying might be a dirty word, but it is a necessary part of our current system. I will proudly wear my green name tag as I continue fighting for freedom in Idaho, and I hope to see you all at the Capitol as often as possible.

Note: A descendant of American pioneers, Brian writes about the importance of culture and about current events in the context of history.  His work can be found on Substack, here.

Bannock County Board of Commissioners Meetings, January 30-February 3, 2023

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(Bannock County Press Release, January 27, 2023)

Monday, January 30, 2023:
  • There are no meetings scheduled at this time.
Tuesday, January 31, 2023:
  • There are no meetings scheduled at this time.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023:

  • There are no meetings scheduled at this time.
Thursday, February 2, 2023:
  • There are no meetings scheduled at this time.
Friday, January 27, 2023:
  • 10:00 AM: Claims Meeting (action items)

 

 

More about BOCC Meetings
The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) is comprised of the three elected County Commissioners: Ernie Moser (District 1, Chair), Jeff Hough (District 2), and John Crowder (District 3).
The BOCC generally meets twice a week: regular business meetings are on Tuesdays at 9:00 a.m. and work sessions are on Thursdays at 9:30 a.m. Meetings are generally held in the Commissioner’s Chambers at 624 E Center, Room 212, Pocatello, Idaho, unless otherwise noted. Times subject to change within 15 minutes of stated time.
During these meetings, the BOCC may: approve contracts, expend funds, hear testimony, make decisions on land use cases and take care of other County matters, and are open to the public.

 

 

 

 

 

Donald Trump Calls for New Missile Defense Shield

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(Donald J. Trump, January 27, 2023)

45th President Donald Trump has released the following statement:

We must be able to defend our homeland, our allies, and our military assets around the world from the threat of hypersonic missiles, no matter where they are launched from. Just as President Trump rebuilt our military, President Trump will build a state-of-the-art next-generation missile defense shield to defend America from missile attack.

 

Under Joe Biden the world has become vastly more dangerous, and there is no greater danger than the deadly menace of nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles.

World War Three would be a catastrophe unlike any other. The best way to ensure that such a conflict ever happens is to be prepared with unmatched technology and unrivaled strength.

President Trump will work with Congress and our great military leaders to build a state-of-the-art, next generation missile defense shield, just as Israel is now protected by the Iron Dome.

America must have an impenetrable dome to protect our people

President Trump rebuilt our military at a level that nobody thought possible, but we must take that further step.

 

 

Risch Defends the Unborn and Mothers while Preventing Taxpayer Funded Abortion

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(Senator James Risch Press Release, January 26, 2023)

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), as a member of the Senate Pro-Life Caucus, introduced seven pieces of legislation this week to protect the unborn, prevent taxpayer dollars from going towards an abortion, and provide support for pregnant and parenting mothers.

“There is nothing more valuable than human life, yet the Biden Administration and radical Democrats want abortion on demand with little or no restrictions. North Korea and China are among the other countries in the world that allow abortion on demand to this level, and America certainly should not be within their ranks. I will always protect the rights of the unborn and stand with mothers,”said Risch.

Senator Risch introduced the following pro-life legislation:

Risch is a member of the Senate Pro-Life Caucus, which is chaired by Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.). Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) is also a member.

 

 

Glamour on Fire Offers Mommy and Me Appointments During School Closure

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January 29, 2023

Pocatello–With school closed Monday due to the cold, it’s the perfect time for some pampering!  Pocatello’s newest salon, Glamour on Fire, is offering special Mommy and Me hair and nail appointments between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. all week long.  Plus, all nail services are 50% off through the end of January!

Glamour on Fire is a veteran-owned salon located on the second floor of the Huddlle Building at 312 W Center St., in Pocatello’s historic Old Town.  Owner Bethany Stanley explains that her mission is “to inspire our clients and patrons to express their inner beauty through their exterior canvas.”

To book your Mommy and Me appointment, click here.

 

 

Deceased Identified in Friday’s Officer-Involved Shooting

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January 29, 2023

Pocatello–The Bannock County Coroner’s Office has issued the following statement regarding last Friday’s officer-involved shooting:

The Bannock County Coroner’s Office, in cooperation with Eastern Idaho Critical Incident Taskforce, has confirmed the identity of the deceased following an officer-involved shooting on the 700 block of West Center Street in Pocatello on Friday, January 27, 2023.

Matthew Planer

Deceased: Matthew E. Planer, 52, male, of Pocatello

Next of kin has been notified.

The incident remains under investigation by the Eastern Idaho Critical Incident Taskforce, led by the Idaho Falls Police Department.

On Friday afternoon, Pocatello Police issued the following description of the incident:

Dispatch received a call Friday, January 27, 2023, at approximately 12:45 p.m. in reference to a disturbance. The caller said a man was at an apartment complex at the 700 block of West Center Street.

Officers arrived on scene to find a male suspect at the apartment complex. During the course of an investigation the suspect brandished a weapon. Shots were fired a short time later.

At this time the name of the suspect is not being release, pending notification of next to kin. The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene. No officers were injured during the incident.

 

 

City of Pocatello Commitment to Community in Wake of Tyre Nichols Death

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(City of Pocatello Press Release, January 28, 2023; Cover photo credit: Pocatello PD FB)

The City of Pocatello with the Pocatello Police Department (PPD) does not condone the actions of the officers involved in the Tyre Nichols case.

PPD officers endure rigorous training with extensive oversight by their peers. This comprehensive training prepares officers for the worst situations. Our officers are here to protect our citizens and uphold justice for all in the community.

“This is not who we are. What happened in Memphis is simply unacceptable. Our community deserves better of their law enforcement, and that’s what we plan to achieve,” said Pocatello Police Chief Roger Schei.

“What happened in Memphis, Tennessee is heartbreaking. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Tyre Nichols’ family, friends, and the community that is mourning this senseless death,” said Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad.

Patriots for Liberty and Constitution to Host Second Presentation on 9/11, Monday, January 30

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Patriots for Liberty and Constitution

January 29, 2023

Pocatello for Accountable Government Entities: Keeping Government Accountable

In lieu of their usual book discussion, this Monday the group “Patriots for Liberty & Constitution” will host the second half of a two-part presentation about the World Trade Center collapse.

In a Facebook post last week, group founder Art da Rosa explained:

Roland “Ed” Angle from Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth will present two PowerPoint presentations explaining the collapse of the three World Trade Center high-rise towers that occurred on September 11, 2001.

The first presentation, on Monday, January 23rd, will focus on World Trade Center Building 7, a 47-story steel-framed high rise that collapsed in seven seconds, straight down into its footprint, on the afternoon of September 11, 2001. It was not struck by an airplane.

The second presentation, on Monday, January 30th, will focus on World Trade Center Buildings 1 & 2, the Twin Towers that collapsed on the morning of September 11, 2001, after being struck by airplanes.

Ed is a retired Professional Civil Engineer with more than 50 years of engineering experience. He graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and has had a wide range of professional practice working for the military, state and local governments, and large and mid-size corporations and has owned three construction companies. He currently sits on the board of Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, a non-profit corporation that has been investigating the collapse of the three World Trade Center towers on 9/11 since 2006. The information he will be presenting has been compiled by hundreds of engineers and scientists during the last 16 years.

Each presentation will take about 45 minutes and there will be plenty of time for questions and comments afterward.

COME LEARN ABOUT HOW THE BUILDINGS AT THE WORLD TRADE CENTER COLLAPSED ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 – AN EVENT THAT CHANGED THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD.

The group meets at Mountain Valley Baptist Church, 202 S. 7th Avenue in Pocatello.  Both presentations will be held at 7:00 p.m., rather than 6:00 p.m.

For more information visit: Patriots for Liberty & Constitution

 

 

 

City of Pocatello Calendar, January 30-February 3, 2023

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City of Pocatello City Hall

January 29, 2023

MONDAY, JANUARY 30

  • 11:30 a.m.: Officer Tim Underwood Retirement Event, Council Chambers

TUESDAY, JANUARY 31

  • 1:30 p.m.: Site Plan Review, Iwamizawa Conference Room Pocatello

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 1

  • 10:00 a.m.: Child Care Advisory Committee Meeting, Iwamizawa Conference Room
  • 6:00 p.m.: Historic Preservation Commission Meeting, Council Chambers

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 2

  • 12:00 p.m.: Parks & Recreation Advisory Board Meeting, Council Chambers
  • 5:30 p.m.: City Council Clarification Meeting, Council Chambers
  • 6:00 p.m.: City Council Meeting, Council Chambers

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 3

  • No Meetings Scheduled 

 

 

 

Guest Column–Dustin Hurst: It’s Time to Spill Some Beans

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January 27, 2023

It’s Time to Spill Some Beans

By: Dustin Hurst, Vice President, Idaho Freedom Foundation

Idaho Freedom Foundation Vice President Dustin Hurst

Next Friday, I will be leaving the Idaho Freedom Foundation after nearly 10 years of service to the organization.  I have accepted a position to lead the fundraising and development efforts for People United for Privacy.

I am so grateful for my time with the Idaho Freedom Foundation. I have learned so much and done some big things. Wayne took a chance on me years ago, and I’m forever grateful he did.

I still love IFF and I believe the organization’s best years lie ahead. The foundation is so needed because no other group holds politicians accountable like IFF.

I’m particularly proud of the Idaho Freedom Index, probably the top legislative scorecard in the nation. Moderate Republicans hate the Index because it prevents them from controlling the narrative. They are more than happy to try to bamboozle voters, and the Index smashes their narratives.

Some might speculate about my departure. Allow me to be clear: I have grown particularly adept at fundraising and I saw a new challenge in that space. I couldn’t pass it up.

Plus, things became a bit routine at IFF. I needed a new challenge. And I definitely have one at my new employer.

My work to save Idaho from fake conservatives isn’t over, though. I plan to remain at Idaho Freedom PAC so that I can help replace the likes of Abby Lee, Treg Bernt, Geoff Schroeder, and Chuck Winder. Idahoans have got to stop sending fake conservatives to the Statehouse if they want the state to remain conservative. But that’s another story for another day.

IFF did some big things during my time there. But we certainly didn’t achieve some important wins. For example, I weep that CBD oil is still illegal in the state of Idaho. Republicans, forever committed to the war on drugs, are hurting people and they don’t care. It’s so senseless.

Julia, the kids, and I plan to remain in Idaho, though the new job allows me to work remotely. I love this place, and I am dedicated to preserving it so that Lincoln, Hollie, and Ben can enjoy it when they have their own families.

Eventually, I’d like to return to IFF to lead the foundation. But, that’s a dream. We’ll see where life takes me over the next 5-7 years.

I am proud to say that I gave IFF – and the fight to preserve liberty in Idaho – everything I had. I left it all out there. And I’m confident that Wayne and the rest of the team will continue to work tirelessly to do what needs to be done.

Thank you to all those who have supported me and my work at IFF. There are too many of you to name, but you know who you are. I have been richly blessed by my associations with so many great people.