Bedke rebuffs Idaho Statesman editorial call to open closed-door caucuses

House Speaker Scott Bedke said Tuesday's editorial reviving the newspaper editorial board's push to open GOP caucuses "predictable."

"I don't see us changing caucus policy," Bedke said.

Bedke did compliment the principal author of the editorial, Chuck Malloy, a former press aide to the House GOP Caucus. Bedke said he helped hire Malloy several years ago as a member of House leadership.

Malloy spoke with Bedke last week. "He came and talked to me and I wished him well. I think he's a pretty talented writer."

Wrote Malloy: "Secret sessions simply are not necessary in today’s Legislature, and they add nothing to the process but suspicion and mistrust. In this day of texts, tweets and emails, closed caucus meetings are as outdated as rotary telephones."

Malloy writes for the editorial board, which is led by Statesman Publisher Mike Jung. Malloy is playing a bigger role with Friday's departure of longtime editorial page editor Kevin Richert. Richert is leaving to report for the online start-up Idaho Ed News, which is funded by the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation.

The Statesman editorial board -- which is separate from the newsroom operation -- has long pressed for open caucuses. Back when Bruce Newcomb was speaker, I crashed a House GOP caucus meeting, taking a seat at the back. I was politely asked to leave.

Nobody seemed to care to listen to the inspirational words of Idaho Constitutional Convention Aaron Parker of Grangeville, who thundered in 1890 about letting the light shine on legislative proceedings.

When the Montana Legislature opened its caucuses to the public after the Montana Supreme Court sided with the media in a lawsuit, I had the pleasure of attending the first meetings in Helena.

For a time, Idaho Democrats opened their caucuses in both the House and Senate, but the practice ended when Democrats decided it was unwise to telegraph their strategy to the majority party.

You can follow Idaho Statesman Politics on Twitter.

Yearly tradition

Media asks for open caucus. Leadership says no. Happens every year.

We'll all live in the street and won't need them anyway.

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