The ghost of former Senate Majority Caucus Chairman John McGee appeared Monday on the first day of orientation for new lawmakers. McGee, who resigned last year after a 2011 DUI and a 2012 sexual harassment case, wasn't mentioned by name, but his spirit was in the room.
At the luncheon that opened three days of training for 44 new Idaho lawmakers, House Speaker Lawerence Denney urged the group to be mindful of the scrutiny they'll draw as elected officials.
"I want to welcome you to the goldfish bowl," said Denney, R-Midvale. "Everything you do is going to be observed. You're going to have to be very, very careful what you do, when you do it and how you do it because it may be the headline the next day."
Denney then noted the nightly social events open to lawmakers free of charge, sponsored by various interest groups and associations.
"I can tell you there are a lot of opportunities to do things that don't bring honor to you around here. There are receptions nearly ever night, and there are dinners nearly every night," Denney said. "And there's an opportunity to drink, if you like to drink.
"If you drink too much, I'm going to give each one of you my cell phone number and I will come and take you home, because I don't want to read about it in the newspaper because everything that we do reflects on every one of us. We definitely want to put our best foot forward and do the very best that we can."
Jeff Youtz, director of the Legislative Services Office, added that new ethics training will be held for all 105 lawmakers on Jan. 9, the third day of the 2013 session. A half-day is set aside for the program, which was endorsed by bipartisan leadership, Youtz said.
"It's really a unique opportunity for the the entire Legislature to hear all the ground rules, to get the same playbook," Youtz said.