After an impassioned speech asking for forgiveness for his transgressions, Sen. John McGee Tuesday helped block an immediate vote on a resolution for a Canyon County Republican Central Committee group to investigate his DUI. The resolution also called for a vote by the entire committee, after the smaller group’s report, on whether or not to keep McGee as its chairman.
McGee’s remarks took place at the Canyon County Republican Central Committee’s regular monthly meeting at the county courthouse, the first one since McGee’s June 19 DUI arrest.
About 70 people filled the meeting that normally draws a smaller crowd.
McGee, of Caldwell’s District 10, ran the meeting as chairman. When it came time for his chairman’s report he spoke to his fellow Republicans with contrition yet resolve to continue his political career.
“I am sorry to each and every one of you who I represent as the chairman of the (county) party or your state senator,” he said. “It is difficult to stress the disappointment I have in myself.”
The speech failed to sway state legislative District 13 GOP chairwoman Ronalee Linsenmann from her mission. She took the rostrum after McGee’s statements and brought a resolution for voting members of the committee to form a group of five to seven members “to report back to the Central Committee … with any medical records or other information relevant to the issue.”
McGee declared that it was appropriate and traditional to take the resolution to the Central Committee’s executive committee for it to take action on.
Linsenmann asked McGee where such a ruling was in the committee’s bylaws. She wanted the resolution put to a vote at the meeting. McGee responded by saying it was the tradition of the central committee to respond to such resolutions that way.
Sen. Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, then at 8:30 p.m. moved that the meeting be adjourned. He suggested that some members may have to get back to their children at home. McGee called for a voice vote and committee members voted unanimously to end the meeting.
“I think the Republican Party has been remaining silent for so long on issues like this,” Linsenmann said after the meeting. “It is disappointing.”
Part of Linsenmann’s resolution called McGee’s arrest “drunken actions unbecoming to his position, to the Republican Party and to our Central Committee.”
Linsenmann said if the party held people accountable, its members would be trusted.
“Obviously I’m not going to be the most popular Republican in Canyon County for a while,” she said.
In his apology McGee thanked those who had supported him and called his actions “uncharacteristic.” But he said he wanted to serve out his term as county chairman. And he said Gov. Butch Otter told him to “stick with it.”
“The governor and I now have one more thing in common,” McGee said, referring to Otter’s DUI arrest. Otter and McGee are both from Caldwell and both attended The College of Idaho.
McGee said the Republicans in the Senate want him to stay as their caucus chairman and that all volunteer boards on which he serves on have also asked him to continue to serve.
Nampa Precinct 60 committeeman Alan C. Jones of Nampa was one of several people upset that no vote was taken on Linsenmann’s resolution.
“If it’s we the people then let’s let the people decide,” Jones said.
McGee, a four-term senator, was arrested last month after police say he took an SUV attached to a 20-foot cargo trailer from the southwest Boise home of a stranger and got it stuck in a yard just down the street, causing several thousand dollars in damage. His blood alcohol limit was measured at 0.15, nearly twice the legal limit.
McGee pleaded guilty to a driving under the influence misdemeanor. His felony charge for taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent was dropped.