Otter skips Idaho's trade mission to Brazil, headed to rodeo in Vegas

UPDATE, 12:50 p.m. with comment from Jon Hanian below.

Gov. Butch Otter, who canceled his leadership of a
trade mission to Brazil and Mexico, will instead attend the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas this week.

Otter says growing Idaho's economy is his highest priority. His "Project 60" effort aims to boost the gross state product to $60 billion a year. The figure was $55.4 billion in 2010.

Otter's spokesman, Jon Hanian, said Monday that Otter will be at the rodeo from Wednesday to Saturday, joined by his wife, Lori. The couple are paying their expenses and Otter "usually attends this event every year," Hanian said.

(UPDATE: I first asked Hanian why Otter canceled on Nov. 15. He declined to reply, most recently last week. I reiterated my question at 9:17 a.m. today. At 12:40 p.m. today, Hanian replied. His reply is in full below. Hanian also had declined, until today, to answer whether Otter was planning to attend the rodeo.

Hanian said he spoke with Otter Monday and wrote, "The Governor said he did not cancel his participation in the trade mission so he could attend the NFR as you have suggested."

The trip is the state's first to Brazil since 1998, when Otter, as lieutenant governor, went to Brazil, Argentina and Chile. I had written that the trip was Idaho's first to Brazil.)

When announced in February, Otter was to have led the trip, then scheduled for June. The mission was rescheduled for Dec. 3-10 and Otter asked Little to lead the delegation.

Mexico is the United States' third-largest trade partner and Brazil is the world's eighth-largest economy. The trip promises "a deeper understanding of the Brazilian market through a country briefing delivered by the U.S. trade offices in Sao Paulo," according to the Idaho Department of Commerce.

Mexico is Idaho's eighth-largest export destination and No. 2 recipient of agricultural products. Brazil is Idaho's 19th largest export destination.

The mission includes 13 companies, along with the Idaho Farm Bureau, University of Idaho, Idaho Potato Commission and Idaho Bean Commission. According to the Department of Commerce, estimated costs are $6,125 per participant. The trip is aimed at companies "looking to expand sales and build international business relationships" as well as those wanting to strengthen ties to current customers.

Before leaving, Little told me Otter asked him to fill in on the trade mission last summer.

"I don't know what happened, but I've been aware of this for quite some time," Little said. He added that Otter had alerted him to unrest in Rio de Janeiro, sending him a Nov. 14 Wall Street Journal article titled, "Brazilian Police Occupy Lawless Rio Slum."

Little, however, said he believed the trip would be safe.

Commerce Director Jeffery Sayer, who also is on the trip, said before departing that the decision to change dates and delegation leadership was made in the governor’s office.

Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, will be acting governor from Wednesday to Saturday in the absence of both Otter and Little.

Hill said he's confident Little will do a good job, but that Otter might have been more effective. "I don't think it's ever as good (for a governor to send a subordinate)," Hill said. "Particularly if you're dealing with a foreign country. Most foreign countries are very status oriented and they want to deal with the top guy."

Still, Hill said he doesn't begrudge Otter down time. "We all deserve some time off. We all deserve the chance to do things that relieve some of the tension that we have to deal with."

House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, said Little is a more than suitable replacement. Little led a trade trip to Taiwan in June that included Rusche and Hill. “Brad may be a better fit,” Rusche said. “He knows a lot of the businesses in Idaho. Brad is stepping up, particularly in economic development, trade and business.”

Two companies — Quest Aircraft in Sandpoint and Meyer Industries in Emmett — dropped their interest in the trade mission after Otter canceled. Quest subsequently made its own Latin America visit. Returning in December would have been redundant, said spokeswoman Julie Stone. Ed Meyer said his company decided to go to China instead. Neither said Otter’s withdrawal was a factor.

Ron Nilson, CEO of Ground Force in Post Falls, told me he signed up without regard to who headed the delegation. “Both Brad and Butch are fantastic representatives,” Nilson said last month.

“When they changed it, we said we’re still committed,” Nilson added. “I said to Brad, ‘You’re going to have a tough act to follow to live up to Butch.’ But who knows? If Brad does a better job than Butch then we’ll request Brad to go from now on.”

The Otters have been out of state a good deal in recent weeks.

From Nov. 13-17, they were in Maui at a conference of the California Independent Voter Project. Otter changed his plans to return early in order to be in the state for the Nov. 18 execution of Ezra Paul Rhoades. The voter project paid the the couple's expenses in Hawaii.

From Nov. 29 to Dec. 2, the Otters were in Orlando for a meeting of the Republican Governor's Association. The RGA paid the couple's expenses.


I visited with the Governor this morning about your question.

There are 16 Idaho companies that went on this trip. Before their departure this weekend, the governor was fully briefed on what they will be doing and is very optimistic that the companies participating will generate sales and create relationships that will translate into ongoing business opportunities for Idaho businesses. The Governor has every confidence that Lt. Governor Brad Little will be successful in leading this delegation.

I think it is also worth pointing out, that in the past Idaho Governors have sent their Lt. Governor to lead the Idaho delegation on many of these trade missions. Governor Otter was asked to lead them when he was Lt. Governor under Governors Batt and Andrus. In this administration Governor Otter has headed up most of the trade missions. On this particular trip however Lt. Governor Little will be leading the delegation and representing the state as we continue to promote Idaho goods and services abroad.

The Governor said he did not cancel his participation in the trade mission so he could attend the NFR as you have suggested. It is also not accurate to say this is Idaho’s first trade mission to Brazil. As Lt. Governor, Governor Otter went on a trade mission to Argentina, Brazil and Chile in 1998. These discussions about when this particular trade mission would leave began in late spring and early summer of this year. The initial discussions had it leaving in either June, November or December. The Governor made it very clear in the early going that he would be able to go on a trade mission in November, but not in December. As a result this trade mission was tentatively planned for November. The Governor cancelled some events so he could lead this trip. But shortly after doing that, it was decided to move it to December which made his participation impossible.

NOTE: The Department of Commerce brochure shows 17 participants on the trip, 14 companies, plus the Farm Bureau and bean and potato commissions. I've tried to clear up the discrepancy by contacting Hanian and departments of Commerce and Agriculture, but haven't heard back. Dan Popkey

You can follow Idaho Statesman Politics on Twitter.

Otter's priorities.

Just what we should expect from this clown.

You got that right.

Yeah, constant vacations and golf outings! Oh wait, that’s the clown in the white house.

You got that wrong ....................

......... You might compare the Shrubs vacation time to Obama's . Post the results ---------- I have $5 resting on you not doing anything except trying to change the subject .
Butch = a waste of air .

Why worry about that now?

I don’t (didn’t) agree with Dubya’s vacation time either but that is history. We need to focus on the current events and those in office now rather than worrying about the past. Hope and change in 2012.

Why lie now?

No sense in lying about your true feelings now.
The fact is, the only reason Obama's modest vacations are even an issue is because the rw extremists could not defend shrub's constant vacations.
Grow up - does name calling make you have less appendage envy?



Okay, now all the folks that

blasted Otter for GOING on trade missions to China etc., will now blast him for NOT going on a trade mission....Sunny...

Time for Otter to retire

Personally I was never negative about Otter going to China just over the results of his trip where he was willing to lick the boots of a Communist dictatorship and now has the chance to go to one of the fastest growing Democratic countries/economies in the world as Idaho's top sales man and blows it off to go play cowboy. Yes we are probably better off with Little going as Otter has seem to already checked out from being Governor.


You wish you had a vacation more than anything else...


Everybody wants to hue the knurled


Maybe the Governor wanted to meet Trevor Brazile instead of Brazil- 8 time all-around PRCA champ and career earnings leader.

giddy up!

It's good

to be King.


Popkey "Mexico is Idaho's third-largest trade partner"

Idaho Dept of commerce says Mexico is Idaho' 7th largets export destination.

What's the source for 3rd?

Source is Department of Commerce material, which I misread

Thanks for the good catch. The third-largest status is for all of the U.S. I've corrected my error above.

Click the link in the first paragraph of this post and then click on the state's PDF on the trip for more.


"Idaho has a well established presence and reputation in Mexico through the Trade Office managed by Armando Orellana.

"Mexico is the United States' 3rd largest trade partner and 2nd largest export market for U.S. products.

"Exports from the U.S. to Mexico are up 28% January-September 2010 compared to the same timeframe in 2009."

Dan Popkey

Part II

You are welcome. I appreciate your well done edits and updates (unlike other Statesman writers). I had read that reference to 3rd for the US and figured that was the misread.

But, then what? Do we care what the Mexico/US trade is or do we care what the Mexico/Idaho trade is? The correction would be MUCH better to state Mexico is Idaho's 7th's and what that $ number is.

I just thought maybe your second-in-command wrote this for you. You know, your stand-in, while you skipped off to the Kid Rock show last night.

I was relying on the state's promotional materials...

The Department of Commerce pitch to get companies to participate in the trip cites the U.S. figures, so that's what I used. Seemed the right context.

I agree, however, that the Idaho-Mexico figures would be valuable. But I couldn't get the link you provided to work. If Mexico is No. 7 for Idaho and No. 3 for U.S., perhaps the state believes there is potential to boost the relationship?

No such luck on Kid Rock. And in case you're not joking, I don't have a second!

Dan Popkey


Try this route to the docu ment.

THEN left column half way down is info re Mexico and lower bottom right is useful links for Idaho top export markets.

Yes I was joking. I know the Statesman doesn't have the money to pay for good help. I just read the hard copy today. What are there-- about 4 articles in the whole (THIN) paper written by local writers?

The Statesman should

The Statesman should “correct” the headline also since the premise of the story is now wrong according to Otter’s spokesperson. I’m no fan of Otter but stating that he’s skipping a trade mission to go to a rodeo is pretty low if that’s not actually the case.

Butch's priorities

Brazilians don't want to see an aged cowboy wearing tight jeans. Rodeo attendees do.

What a fool Idaho, the whoopie cushion of states, has for a governor.

Not surprised at all. You

Not surprised at all. You can do whatever you want in this state as long as you have the "R" behind your name.

We nee some bumper music.

Cue "The Rodeo Song." Butch will love it.

I"d rather have Little representing us anyday.

I have no problem with him going.


Obama said that he was focused like a laser on jobs and the economy(for 3 years now). I don't recall the left crying when he just left for another 17 day vacation. Hawaii again. Hypocites

One trick pony

We get it you hate Pres.Obama and will make a negative comment about him any chance you get even when its not germane to the subject.

If Otter

spends much more time out of state, he'll have to start buying non-resident wolf tags.

Little is pulling your leg,

Little is pulling your leg, Dan. He knows exactly what happened. The trip to Brazil was arranged by the previous Commerce Director who lost favor with Otter's wife for his "beach head" remark that brought the wrath of the Republican base down on the governor. A trip to India was out of the question, because Lori thinks that nation is "icky." It is my understanding there will probably be no more trade missions after the one to Brazil, in part because Lori says overseas trips wear out the governor, and in part because Sayer wants Commerce to focus on growing Idaho's economy from within. Not sure if this means an increase in crony capitalism, or an increase in parochialism, or both.

Priorities in the right order

I can't blame Gov. Otter for bypassing the trip involving two of Idaho's biggest international trade partners. It takes a special person to go to a rodeo in Las Vegas. He sets a perfect example of what an Idaho politician looks and acts like. Dumb suit.


May your Gov. burn in Hell.

May they use you and yours for the kindling. Grow up


Everybody wants to hue the knurled

Poor Butch..

Hope he brought along some Chaw.. so he can booze his problems away.

Hanian is

a slippery sleaze ball just like his boss.

Danny sure knows how to cheerlead

For his Marxist Tap Dancing Clown Chorus. The only way the clowns can stay warm these days while "occupying Boise" is with some fast tap dancing.

South of the border trade

Not sure why we need more trade from south of the border, seems we have all the illegal drugs, guns and crime we need from there already.

Danno has really been confused.....

since he couldn't milk the Larry Craig thing any longer -- he just doesn't know what to do with himself. This comic strip effort is his latest venture. Courage!

"couldn't milk the Larry

"couldn't milk the Larry Craig thing any longer"

That absolutely came out wrong!

That deer in the headlights

That deer in the headlights look is really his best look.


"Otter says growing Idaho's economy is his highest priority"
Ha! Ha! Ha!Ha! Ha! Ha!Ha! Ha! Ha! What a putz.

Both have

hot women and booze.

I'm sure it was a tough decision.

Obama's vacations versus Butch's vacations

The far right loves to paint Democrats as fire-breathing commies and they enjoy calling them "hypocrites" when they don't act like commies who--in their own fevered imaginations--should be living in caves or something. When Obama take a vacation it's a "betrayal" of the communist principles they think he should live up to. Maybe he's not a commie.

As for Butch, the right knows he's a hard-drinking, country club Republican and they expect him to act like it. He has earned the right to enjoy his privileges. They see nothing wrong with this.

If you want to base your image of the Gov. on his drinkng days,

Please get in the DeLorean and be quiet.


Everybody wants to hue the knurled

I'm so disappointed.

I pride myself in my conservatism.
Butch Otter has done a solid job on spending.
He has been AWFUL for revenue. He does not have a clue what it takes to grow jobs and GDP in this state.
Just please retire. You are starting to come across as a little Obama-ish.
Taking vacations instead of a trade trip that could help your state out of their stagnant economy? Butch can't relate to most Idahoans and he doesn't care.

Tight Jeans Contest????

Maybe he will win another "tight jeans contest" like he did at the Rockin' Rodeo bar and do Idaho proud.

As his age it would be an honor.


Everybody wants to hue the knurled