Idaho politics: Labrador campaign invokes the tragic chapter of Ruby Ridge

UPDATED, 9:38 a.m., with more reaction from the Minnick campaign.

Rep. Walt Minnick's latest TV ad is sparking a new round of controversy.

Republican challenger Raul Labrador fired back this morning with a scathing news release attacking Minnick's messenger: retired U.S. Marshal Mike Johnson.

The release centers on Johnson's role as marshal during the 1992 Ruby Ridge standoff, and quotes two retired deputy marshals who question Johnson's judgment and ethics.

"(Johnson) became one of the biggest embarrassments to this agency as well as to the other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. He exercised questionable, if not poor judgment during Ruby Ridge as well as in other events during his tour," said retired deputy marshal Jack Cluff.

"If Mike Johnson told me it was raining outside, I would go check before finding my umbrella. Any person who would use Mike Johnson as a spokesman on behalf of him or her is either totally misinformed, unethical or both," said retired deputy marshal Dave Bradley.

Three people died in the Ruby Ridge standoff — Randy Weaver's wife, Vicki, and son, Samuel, and deputy U.S. Marshal William Degan, It's still a story that still resonates and stirs emotions, 18 years after the fact, as this recent article illustrates.

But, as Labrador notes, he was a law student when the standoff occurred. Will the specter of this story offset the impact of one more ad blasting Labrador's work in immigration law?

That's one question surrounding this race, 25 days from election day.

Click here for my previous blog post on the Minnick ad, and a link to the video.

And here, in full, is Labrador's take on the ad. It's lengthy, but worth a look:

Labrador news release:

Republican Congressional Candidate Raul Labrador today thanked two retired United States Marshal Service personnel for publicly speaking out against former U.S. Marshal Mike Johnson who acts as spokesman in the latest negative, false advertising launched by Walt Minnick.

The Labrador for Idaho campaign was contacted by email late Monday evening by retired Deputy Marshal Jack Cluff, who saw the television ad in Moscow and was moved to act. He put the campaign in touch with a Weaver Trial colleague in Oklahoma. Each man served the USMS for more than 20 years. The Minnick ad features former U.S. Marshal Mike Johnson questioning Labrador’s "troubling history." Mike Johnson, who was the U.S. Marshal during the Ruby Ridge siege, was a political appointee while both other marshals were career law enforcement officers.

Of the support and the attack, Raul Labrador said, “I must offer my heartfelt thanks to these two retired deputy U.S. Marshals for coming to my defense. How a man with a history that includes a leadership position at Ruby Ridge and whose co-workers have nothing but contempt for him can question my integrity is both breathtaking and beneath contempt.”

Labrador continued, “Mike Johnson does not know me. I was at law school when Mike Johnson was in his position at Ruby Ridge. This is another desperation tactic of Walt Minnick as he knows we have all the momentum in this race. His internal polls must be telling him I am going to win and he’s scared.”

Retired Deputy Marshal Cluff, a native of Idaho said: “During Mike Johnson's four-plus years as a U.S. Marshal for the District of Idaho, he became one of the biggest embarrassments to this agency as well as to the other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.”

Cluff added, “All you have to do is ask any Northern Idaho Law enforcement agent, including myself, that worked the Ruby Ridge detail or members of the retired U.S. Marshals Service Association that may have served under him.”

Statement from deputy U.S. Marshal Jack Cluff, retired

As a deputy marshal I served in the district of Western Washington area as well as the district of Idaho. I was deputy marshal in northern Idaho and was responsible for the 10 northern counties of Idaho. I was deployed at Ruby Ridge, a disaster that should never have occurred. It was the most ill-conceived and executed debacle in the history of Idaho law enforcement.

During Mike Johnson's four-plus years as a U.S. Marshal for the District of Idaho, he became one of the biggest embarrassments to this agency as well as to the other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. He exercised questionable, if not poor judgment during Ruby Ridge as well as in other events during his tour. All you have to do is ask any Northern Idaho law enforcement agent, including myself, that worked the Ruby Ridge detail or members of the retired U.S. Marshal’s Service Association that may have served under him.

I feel his attack on Raul Labrador’s background and history, a man he has had no professional relationship with as a U.S. Marshal, to be both hypocritical and deceitful. It shows he is a man of questionable ethics and as well as poor judgment.

Finally, I find Walt Minnick’s use of Mike Johnson in his political ad to be an affront to myself and to the U.S. Marshal Service. I question the character of Walt Minnick for resorting to such a cheap shot against his opponent, using the good name of the U.S. Marshal’s for his political gain. This is particularly the case as Mike Johnson had absolutely no role to play in the control of illegal immigration when he was a federal marshal. To me and many others, he was a failure to law enforcement. Walt Minnick has made a big mistake by using former U.S. Marshal Mike Johnson as one of his campaign supporters.

Jack Cluff is a native of Meridian, Idaho and now lives in Moscow. He served in the USMS for 20 years, from 1979 to 1999. Before that he served 7 years on active duty in the United States Army and served a tour of combat in Vietnam as a helicopter crew chief and gunner.

Statement from deputy U.S. Marshal Dave Bradley, retired

I was deployed to Idaho for the duration of the Randy Weaver trial in Boise as an Inspector of the Judicial Security Division of the USMS.

My personal opinion of Mike Johnson could not be lower and is in fact the lowest of any co-worker during my service to the federal government. Mike Johnson was a man without integrity, without the intelligence required to perform the duties he was required to perform and was an extreme example of the worst kind of political appointment which was then possible in the USMS. I have no respect for him.

I would greatly caution any person to think twice about placing any faith in the words of Mike Johnson. If Mike Johnson told me it was raining outside, I would go check before finding my umbrella. Any person who would use Mike Johnson as a spokesman on behalf of him or her is either totally misinformed, unethical or both.

Dave Bradley lives in Oklahoma. He served in the USMS for 24 years, from 1974-1997. During that time he served the USMS in three districts as well as nine years in headquarters.

From the Minnick camp, here are two quotes from longtime law enforcement officers who come to Johnson's side:

"I have known Mike Johnson for close to 30 years and worked with him in his capacity as a U.S. Marshal," said Bob Barowsky, former sheriff of Payette County. "As a former sheriff, I can say that Mike always acted with highest levels of integrity. He deserves the respect that comes with serving his community for so long, as does Congressman Walt Minnick, whose firm stance for public safety and Idaho values have earned my full support."

"Mike Johnson is someone I know well and respect. He and Walt Minnick should be heralded, not attacked," said Lennie Elfering, a former police chief who served in Parma and New Plymouth. "Mr. Labrador's attempt at character assassination is deplorable. Mike Johnson served his community in many capacities, not the least of which was as a law enforcement officer. Raul Labrador seems willing to step on anyone to get to Congress, even those who have put their lives on the line to protect the same community he wants to represent. As a former police officer, I applaud Mike for speaking the truth."

The Minnick campaign also cites a KTVB story on his immigration ad.

In it, former Marshals Service director Henry Hudson refutes an assertion that Cluff was asked to baby-sit Johnson. In the same story, Labrador spokesman Phil Hardy says the campaign wrote Cluff's statement — and Cluff approved it.

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It's beginning to sound like both candidates are stupid.

Maybe you shouldn't have gotten Craig canned so fast.


"Say a prayer for the pretender..."-Jackson Browne

Unless Gerry Spence is Running against Minnick...

The police issue and what happened at Ruby Ridge was indicative of the ENTIRE establishment and PUBLIC OPINION. Labrador or nobody else has the clout or the guts to actually address, so unless GERRY SPENCE is running against Minnick, (THE ONLY PERSON WHO TOOK A STAND AND HAD THE CLOUT), Minnick is not in jeopardy here.

I'm tired

Of seeing and hearing from the "not so good" friends of Minnick. Does he have anyone with any credibility that will come out and support him? Is he just going to keep pulling these want-a-be's out to do negative ads for him?

I've not seen a single ad from Minnick that is positive, nor have I seen anything that says what he stands for. I'm voting this week and he's lost my vote just by being negative and having bad judgement in his choice of friends!

Attack the messenger...

...when you can't refute the charges. Seems that if Raul was able to prove his past position(s) on immigration were consistent with his currently stated campaign position then he'd offer up the proof instead of digging up a couple of disgruntled codgers to attack the messenger. And btw, Raul, why do you want to take away my constitutional right to vote for my government representatives, by repealing the 17th Amendment?

You must not be familiar

You must not be familiar with the constitution and the initial make up of the balance of powers. The House of representatives was the representative of the PEOPLE to the federal government. The Senate was the representative of the STATES to the federal government.

Why have TWO different representatives to the federal government both representing the people. Typical government overlap and redundancy.

Returning senators to election by state legislative bodies returns that portion of power & representation to the states, instead of the two major national political parties that control general elections via massive campaign funds.

State's have a greater chance of electing third party candidates or candidates that more closely represent their districts, since a state rep may serve as few as 30k or so people, where as a national senator serves from 200k to millions (since each state only gets two senators and state populations vary).

The variation in relative population power of each senator makes the direct election even more senseless. However, if senators represent the states and are elected by the state legislators, that removes the voter / power disparity because the senator does not directly represent a population block.... they represent a political entity, a state.


This is the only fact the voters of Idaho need to know. All this other mud-slinging is irrelevant. Do we want to send a Hispanic to Congress in 2010 in light of the damage that his people have and are doing to America?


...I'm shocked that I'm shocked.

His people???

Put your white hood back on troll somewhere else.

Wow..just wow...

'His people"? Who exactly are "his people"? The Puerto Ricans? The Mormons? The Republicans? The lawyers?
Based on your mention of Hispanics, I can only assume "his people" are the Puerto Ricans. What exact damage have the Puerto Ricans done to this country. I'm so curious to know.


Ask any American Indian about all the problems that whites have inflicted on this land. I don't think we should send anymore to Congress. LOL

wow. fear, ignorance, and

wow. fear, ignorance, and stupidity .... thy name is "Feedup" apparently.

His people? Why not blame Obama for "his people's" damage to urban areas and high crime rates. Why not Blame Clinton for "his people's" (British) actions in India suppressing that country's native population until overthrown by Ghandi?

If he joins the Hispanic caucus one can assume it is because... he is hispanic, or wants to implement / affect policy that that caucus is associated with. Bully for him.


As an inc*mbent, a candidate should be able to campaign on his/her accomplishments during their tenure.
Negative ads indicate to me that they don't have much to brag about.

Or that the inc_mbent

Or that the inc_mbent regrets what he did vote for and doesn't want to be associated with it.

(note: this word filter gets more idiotic the more I use it....)

bad ads

Minnick is running bad ads.

He should take a lesson from Vaughn Ward and realize bad ads can hurt you more than a good opponent.

What is Minnick thinking?

If he loses, it will be because of his negative ads.

What is Minnick thinking?

Did Ward's speech writer get hired on as Minnick's TV ad writer?

apparently Minnick is taking

apparently Minnick is taking a bit too much help from D.C.

Clue-Bat: Might not be a good idea Minnick.

I also was leaning toward Minnick

But the last few ads have made me really question his integrity. Being a DINO anyway, he doesn't have much credibility left.


Minnick is a member of the Demo Party, the party of Pelosi, Harry Reid, Barney Frank, Al Franken. He is on a first name basis with Nancy when she calls.
A so-called Blue Demo can blow a vote when the call is made.

Any candidate that...

accepts the endorsement of Joe Arpaio is unfit to serve in any capacity whatsoever.


I totally agree. And Johnson's endorsement is almost as embarrassing. what a choice we have.

Vaughn Ward looks good now

compared to these two embarrassments. I'm just glad I'm not in that district and won't have to vote for either one of them.

Vaughn Ward looks good now???

Vaughn Ward looks good now? NO he does not! I was for Vaughn Ward and would have supported him. When it revealed he was just another obama wolf in sheep's clothing. he need to be embarrassed and sent packing.


When I first saw this ad, my immediate question "is Minnick out turning over rocks, or did Johnson slither out on his own?" Is this an example of Minnick's judgment?

Campaign Endorsement 101

You want to make an ad for Idaho District 1- SW and NORTH Idaho.

Do you use:
A) A US Marshal connected to Ruby Ridge
B) An IRS Agent
C) Jesse Jackson
D) The president of PETA or
E) A Puerto Rican immigration lawyer.

What's happening here?

How long does a guy have to be involved in politics before his brain atrophies and he starts making utterly stupid decisions?

All Walt Minnick has to do is to run ads telling us what he's done for Idaho as a Congressman. If somebody tells a lie, his campaign refutes it, but stays on message. How freakin' hard is that?

So how long did it take for Minnick to become incapable of making easy decisions?

At this point, I've gone from being a Minnick supporter to supporting neither of them.

Bang on

I agree with you. Seems the tide of discontent with Democrats is scaring the crap out of Walt. He's showing his true colors by getting nasty.

He should be frightened.

All over America the tide is changing. Today Sharon Angle is ahead of harry reid for the first time. She now leads him in the polls.

The liberal media would not show the photos or report on the Tea party event in Searchlight Nevada! Hundreds of thousands of American patriot voters congregated on the desert protesting harry reid, obama and nasty pelosi.

It does appear that real hope and change is on its way and old two face Walt is definitely afraid. yet he hopes to stay so yet he will not say he will vote down pelosi just in case.

You just can't have this election both ways Walt. Neither side is going to go along with that.

Mike Johnson ad

I heard the ad today on the radio. It is really bad. It is really sad. I don't care about the speaker in the ad. I care about what he says. Minnick, I am a Democrat but now cannot vote for you.

The ads are terrible....and I bet they are working.

For the record, I hate the ads.
I am sure they are using public opinion surveys to see if they are effective and I would bet that the polling shows they are. The sad thing is, I'd like to believe a positive campaign based on Walt's record vs. Raul's would also have worked. Unfortunately, we'll never know. I hope Minnick is reelected because I think he is the best person for the job. I also hope Mr. Foster leaves Idaho politics after this election. I don't think any of us benefit from his influence on the campaign environment.

Will vote for Minnick

Walt Minnick is one of those rare lawmakers who votes for what is right rather than following a party line. Our country is increasingly run for special interests to the detriment of the general population. I for one would like to see more of our politicians act in their constituent's best interest rather than doing what the party leaders tell them.

That said...Labrador should get down off his high horse

with his claims of a staying positive. He isn't exactly taking the high ground on this stuff.

read this article

read the article on and you will see that "YES" hudson should refute the baby sitting comment cause is was Duke Smith Assoc Dir of the Marshal Service that told deputy Cluff. So i think everyone should read more then just the newspaper article.

Labrador's out there on this one

I was a law student at the same time; how come my knowledge of the facts, both gleaned during the standoff and after the fact from the trial, is so far different from his? (I was at UI at the time BTW - I think I have a better handle on the facts than he ever got!)

This is obviously a desperate attack from the extreme right - yes, Labrador and his authoritarian cronies, most of whom make up employees in the enforcement end of the federal government, ATF, etc. - to trick voters into voting for him because he's an R.

Don't fall for it, people - Labrador's an extremist we don't want in DC! You want more authoritarian, jackbooted thugs in federal government running around? Then don't vote for him!

Shameful at best, Idaho Republicans!

oh so you had a class field

oh so you had a class field trip up to the mountain is that how you got the better handle on the facts? didnt know that just going to the UI you knew more.

Mickey Mouse

Will probably get my vote in this race.

You were never too bright.

You were never too bright.