Idaho GOP chairman: Cronin should give up legislative seat (UPDATED, 10:35 a.m.)

UPDATED, 10:35 a.m. Friday. Another update. State Rep. Brian Cronin never received a $90,000 public relations contract for the proposed Boise streetcar project.. Cronin was a bidder for the contract, but the City Council never considered the matter and the contract was never awarded, said Adam Park, a spokesman for Mayor Dave Bieter. The Idaho Republican Party's statement says Cronin was awarded the contract.

The state's Republican party chairman says lame-duck state Rep. Brian Cronin should give up his elective seat — or stop lobbying to repeal the Students Come First education laws.

Cronin, a Boise Democrat, is not seeking re-election to the Legislature, but his term runs until early December. However, he is a consultant for one of the groups trying to convince Idaho voters to reject the three Students Come First laws. On Tuesday, Cronin debated against the laws at a Boise City Club luncheon.

In a news release Thursday, state GOP Chairman Barry Peterson said Cronin has supported legislation requiring a one-year "cooling-off" period before legislators go into lobbying. "I haven’t seen a bigger flip-flop since John Kerry ran for president. I can only conclude that in relation to ethics laws, Cronin was for them before he was against them.

“There can be little doubt that Cronin’s value in the private sector is based in large part on his position as a state legislator, and that value is enhanced by the fact that he is still serving as a state legislator. If a Republican were doing this, Cronin would be leading the charge against it and calling for new laws to make sure it never happened again.”

Cronin, meanwhile, says his work on the campaign is consistent with his career in communications, and said Peterson was making a "desperate attempt to distract attention" from the efforts to overturn Students Come First.

"Idaho has chosen for its legislative branch a citizen's legislature. That means that people serve as lawmakers and often hold a job outside of the Legislature. My chosen career is communications, and I've been working in it for the last 15 years. My portfolio of clients includes Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits, and campaigns. Perhaps Mr. Peterson would like to have a conversation about the various Republican legislators who work in areas or for companies that have frequent interests in policy that is considered in the Statehouse. Is he suggesting that his own party's legislators give up their jobs in farming, ranching, mining, insurance, and law?"

Here is the GOP news release, in full:

Barry Peterson, chairman of the Idaho Republican Party, today condemned the ethical lapses of state Rep. and Minority Caucus Chair Brian Cronin and called on him to resign immediately from the Idaho Legislature. Peterson’s condemnation stems from the fact that Cronin is accepting payment for consulting and lobbying activities associated with the upcoming referendum while remaining an elected official and serving in a leadership position for his party.

“Rep. Cronin grabbed headlines by pointing fingers at his colleagues and other public servants who he charged with profiting from their state service,” said Peterson. In fact, during the 2012 legislative session, Rep. Cronin sponsored legislation to create “…a one-year cooling off period before an executive official or legislator could register as a lobbyist after his or her departure from public service” (Senate Bill 1235 SOP). Chairman Barry Peterson said. “I haven’t seen a bigger flip-flop since John Kerry ran for president. I can only conclude that in relation to ethics laws, Cronin was for them before he was against them.”

“There can be little doubt that Cronin’s value in the private sector is based in large part on his position as a state legislator and that value is enhanced by the fact that he is still serving as a state legislator. If a Republican were doing this, Cronin would be leading the charge against it and calling for new laws to make sure it never happened again.”

This is not Cronin’s first brush with a legislative conflict of interest. The Idaho Statesman questioned his ethical judgment after he was awarded a $90,000 public relations contract with the city of Boise and his former boss Mayor Dave Bieter. (Idaho Statesman, Cynthia Sewell 2009)

“I think the people of Idaho need to ask what Cronin is hiding. The legislative session is over, there is no likelihood of a special session, and Cronin’s official duties are quickly coming to an end. So why is he so insistent on hanging onto his legislative seat and taxpayer-funded benefits, while at the same time collecting a fat paycheck for impacting public policy? Is it the health insurance benefits? Is it his PERSI benefits? Has he been collecting any per diem? Is he burdening the taxpayers in order to relieve his business of the cost of providing those same benefits? I think the people of Idaho have a right to know the answer to these questions and many, many, more. Whatever the answers, however, Rep. Cronin needs to resign his seat immediately or quit his job as a public policy consultant.”

As the chair of the Ada County Democrat Party in 2006, Cronin lambasted Republicans with an editorial titled, “Maybe Democrats’ values are more in line with your own.” I guess that can only be true if his constituents' values are in line with his paying clients.

Here, in full, is the statement from Cronin:

Mr. Peterson knows what lobbying is, and he knows that I am not a registered lobbyist, nor engaged in lobbying activities. This is simply a desperate attempt to distract attention from the success that the Vote No on Props 1,2,3 campaign is having in persuading Idaho voters of the harmful effects of the Luna laws and why they are bad for Idaho's kids and Idaho's future.

I still believe there should be a cooling-off period for officials leaving their state jobs and though Republicans refused to even give the bill a hearing, I have voluntarily chosen to apply such a rule to myself.

Idaho has chosen for its legislative branch a citizen's legislature. That means that people serve as lawmakers and often hold a job outside of the Legislature. My chosen career is communications, and I've been working in it for the last 15 years. My portfolio of clients includes Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits, and campaigns. Perhaps Mr. Peterson would like to have a conversation about the various Republican legislators who work in areas or for companies that have frequent interests in policy that is considered in the Statehouse. Is he suggesting that his own party's legislators give up their jobs in farming, ranching, mining, insurance, and law?

It seems that anyone who challenges Tom Luna or these misguided laws has their integrity called into question and faces a barrage of attacks. The same sorts of attacks were waged against Republicans who opposed these laws during the Republican primaries earlier this year.

No one is fighting the Luna laws because it's a great career move. We're doing it because we're fearful of the damage these laws will do to our children's education and their future.

Get Twitter updates on my blog and column and Statesman editorials. Become a follower. You can also get updates on Facebook's Idaho Statesman Opinion Page.

Barry should ask for all the

Barry should ask for all the legislators who take federal subsidies, but voted to refuse federal subsidies to resign as well. Pass the law, then demand compliance, Barry. Until then, you're just a loud mouth.

Nothing but a distraction

Peterson's comment is an obvious attempt to distract from the issue that is on the ballot - the retention of some obviously bad laws.

Not to mention

a distraction from Sup. Luna's allegedly grabbing Rep. Cronin during the City Club debate and cursing at him. What's Chairman Peterson's comment on that?

A new leader for Idaho emerges

Brian Cronin must have hit a real nerve with the Idaho Republican party leadership and they see danger all about. The Republicans are asking Cronin to resign while doing nothing about Phil Hart, John McGee and other ethically-challenged Republicans? Today, we see the Republicans annoint Brian Cronin as a top Democratic leader and a direct threat to Republican dominance in Idaho.

Teachers' union was for PFP before it was against PFP

Cronin was for ethics laws before he was against them.

Union thugs in good company.

Vote Yes on Props 1, 2 & 3!!!

Cronin was for ethics laws

If Cronin was for the passage of ethics laws, was that a good thing or a bad thing? Were the ethics laws passed? No, the Republicans blocked Cronin's attempts to make them into law. Indeed, what Cronin is doing now is miniscule in comparison to Republican bad behavior.

seems like turnabout is far play, to me.

The Grand 'Ole Party shouldn't have blocked legislation that would have prohibited this.

Was Cronin's

lunch paid for by a lobbying group, like Luna's and his crew were? Enquiring minds want to know. Yeah, I know, Luna coughed up the costs for the lunch after he was asked about it.

GOP Chair Peterson ought to police his own house,

starting with Rep Phil Hart, a notorious tax scofflaw and thief of lumber from State lands, before he throws stones at anyone else.

Luna gets paid with tax dollars to campaign

in favor of laws. Cronin gets paid with private dollars.

I probably would have stepped down, but I don't know of any other legislators who have to quit their jobs in order to be a legislator.
Why did the Idaho GOP think it was ok for Norm Semanko to be a paid lobbyist at the same time he is an elected official?

No objections from Idaho GOP when Hart went to ALEC

http://voices.idahostatesman.com/2012/07/24/idahopolitics/idaho_lawmakers_salt_lake_week_alec_conference_including_defeate

I didn't hear Barry Peterson speak out against Lawrence Denney's decision to use tax payer money to send tax dodging Phil Hart to the ALEC convention in Utah even though Hart was lame duck after having been VOTED out of office.

Simple

It seems simple.

Does what Cronin is doing fall within the scope of lobbying?

It's yes or no.

No

The answer to your question is clearly no. Advocating a policy to the public is very different than give-and-take in the Legislature.

Consider Monty Pearce

It was OK for Sen. Pearce to sign a mineral lease with gas drillers before the session and then sponsor their lobbyist written legislation through the legislature? Casting 27 votes on the issue before acknowledging his conflict of interest? Saying that his contract was the same as his neighbors--(Look it up, "$10 OR MORE per acre") Want to tell us how much more, Monty? Repubs wouldn't know ethics if it bit them on the behind.