Democrat Ron Twilegar's unconventional campaign has done something expected -- take Ada County GOP Prosecutor Greg Bower to task for treating with kid gloves former Sen. John McGee.
But Twilegar, a former Boise County prosecutor and state senator, has added an issue that seems a stretch: Attempting to connect Bower to a failed bill mandating ultrasounds before abortions could be performed in Idaho. Senate Bill 1387 died in the House in March after the Senate passed the measure.
Twilegar commissioned a political cartoon and published it on his website from Mike Flinn, the talented left-wing artist who used to appear frequently in Boise Weekly. Twilegar's fundraising page says he plans to run the full-color cartoon in the Statesman, but needs to raise money to pay for the ad.
Flinn's drawing depicts a bulldozer with "Ultrasound" on its blade and "Idaho Legislature" on the back, flattening a woman while others protest, including one with a "Don't Tread on Me" sign. Below the murderous machine sits Bower, feet up, snoring, with a book titled "Rights" ignored on his desk.
As the House was deciding, behind closed doors, whether to take up SB 1387, Twilegar wrote House Speaker Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, telling him he believed the bill was unconstitutional and that he would file a civil action on behalf of the women of Boise County to prevent implementation of the law. Twilegar's letter was dated March 26, the day before the bill was declared dead by House State Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Loertscher, R-Iona.
I spoke with Twilegar today, who acknowledged that Bower -- or any other citizen -- couldn't have done anything in court to stop SB 1387 until it became law.
"It all starts with the oath of office that he pledged to uphold the constitution of the state of Idaho and the U.S constitution," Twilegar said. "I'm not talking about you him filing any kind of lawsuit. I'm talking about him speaking out. I felt I had a duty to speak out. He didn't. I did."
Bower said he's seen the cartoon, but that he's reluctant to comment on bills before they become law, unless they relate to his duties as prosecutor.
"My focus normally is to keep pretty tight with my mission here, which is to enforce criminal law," Bower said. "I normally mind my own business when it comes to the Legislature engaging in things outside the criminal justice system."
As for Twilegar's attempt to draw Bower into the issue, Bower said, "I don't really have any reaction to his analysis of that statute that didn't pass."
Twilegar also is criticzing Bower for agreeing to recommend a 5-day jail term for McGee, in exchange for the Republican's guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of disturbing the peace for behavior prosecutors said was "sexually provocative" to a female Senate staffer.
Instead, Fourth District Magistrate James Cawthon sentenced McGee to up to 88 days, and ordered him immediately incarcerated. Said Cawthon during last month's sentencing: "It's not a question of treating you differently. It's a question of treating you like any other public servant that misbehaves to the level of committing criminal behavior."
Says Twilegar on his campaign blog, "This is the 'justice' you get from the Ada County prosecutor if you are a Republican State senator. What do you think you would have received?" (If you follow the link, you'll see Twilegar spells Bower's first name "Gregg." The correct spelling is "Greg.")
Replied Bower: "Our focus in this case was to keep the victim from becoming a public figure. By negotiating a measure of justice for McGee where he pleaded guilty to the charges, along with a term of jail and conditions, it seemed to meet the interests of justice and our goal, which was not to revictimize this poor young woman by putting her on the stand and trying this case."
McGee remains in the Ada County Jail. I wrote him early this month, asking if he would agree to an interview. Unfortunately, I've not heard back from the former Senate Republican caucus chairman.
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