CALDWELL — Canyon County Republican leaders voted down a resolution to investigate state Sen. John McGee’s June DUI Tuesday at their monthly meeting.
Precinct chairpersons defeated the proposal 22 to 10. Some members of the County Republican Central Committee that voted on the resolution spoke harshly of the measure brought forth by District 13 chairwoman Ronalee Linsenmann.
“What we have is an example of a personal vendetta rather than a serious motion,” committee member Jim Rice said.
But others praised Linsenmann for bringing the subject up for debate. Her resolution would also have had the Central Committee vote on whether to keep McGee as chairman.
At the last Central Committee meeting McGee, acting as chairman, passed Linsenmann’s resolution on to the Central Committee executive board, postponing a vote on the issue by the committee itself.
On Tuesday, the executive board voted to send the resolution to the committee with a “do not pass” recommendation. Linsenmann voiced the only dissenting vote on the board.
McGee, of Caldwell, handed his duties as chairman over to Vice Chairman Steve Kren at both the executive board meeting and the Central Committee meeting while the resolution was discussed.
“I think it’s more appropriate that Steve review this,” McGee said.
The Central Committee also voted on and passed 23-6 a resolution brought by Julie Yamamoto in support of McGee with a recommendation not to address McGee’s DUI again.
In both the executive board and Central Committee meetings Linsenmann stood firm on her desire to consider taking McGee’s chairmanship from him to protect the reputation of the Republican Party.
“We are being just inundated with all kinds of bad behavior,” Linsenmann said. “We’re trying to create a caste system where some people just don’t suffer … consequences.
“If we want to renew the faith in the Republican Party, we need to act like our reputation matters.”
Other committee members said McGee had his day in court, has been punished and has publicly apologized.
“This is an aberration,” Todd Lakey said about McGee’s DUI. “There’s no pattern in this conduct. John took responsibility and pleaded guilty and paid his restitution.”
Linsenmann revised her resolution from last month to include other accusations of what she called “abuse of power” by McGee. The resolution accused McGee of paying transportation and accommodations for students he picked as part of the Canyon County delegation for the 2008 State Republican Convention, among other accusations.
Carl Anderson of Caldwell said his son was a member of that group and McGee didn’t pay his way. Linsenmann said a member of the group told her otherwise.
The resolution also said McGee prevented Linsenmann’s “lawfully presented” motion from being heard by the Central Committee last month and “that action validated a continuing example of such abuse of power.”
McGee said in the executive board meeting that his actions last month were “the appropriate way to handle it.”
Central Committee secretary Nancy Baxter disagreed with Linsenmann about McGee but praised her for her work with the party. She said McGee deserves to have his entire contribution to the party considered.
“He does not need to have an unblemished record destroyed like this,” Baxter said. “We need to turn around and appreciate him for what he has done.”
Reaction from McGee
Sen. John McGee, R-Caldwell, said after the vote that he was “humbled and flattered” by the Canyon County Republican Central Committee’s support.
“I look forward to continuing to serve as the chairman of the party and continuing to serve my role as state senator,” McGee said.
When asked why he turned the meetings Tuesday over to Vice Chairman Steve Kren for discussion of the resolution about him and did not do the same when the resolution was discussed last month, McGee said “that’s not what the story’s about.”
“The story is overwhelmingly the people of the Central Committee supported my chairmanship of the party,” McGee said.
He also said all questions about what happened the night of his DUI arrest have been answered.
“It’s all there,” McGee said. “This has now been adjudicated by the court system and I’m fulfilling my punishment and my debt to society, and Hanna (McGee’s wife) and I are moving forward.
“The vast majority of people in that room said enough is enough. The party’s moving forward and my family’s moving forward. It’s time to move on to other things.”
About McGee’s DUI
Police arrested Sen. John McGee, R-Caldwell, early June 19 after he took a Ford Excursion and cargo trailer from the southwest Boise home of a stranger and got it stuck in a yard down the street. A breath test showed the four-term lawmaker’s blood-alcohol content was nearly twice the legal limit, police said. McGee pleaded guilty to the DUI and a charge of operating a vehicle without the owner’s consent was dropped.