Butch Otter December 2018

Former Idaho Gov. Butch Otter

Former Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has joined the government relations and advocacy firm Sullivan & Reberger, but he won’t be doing any lobbying. Otter’s position will be “of counsel” at the firm, and he’ll maintain an office at its headquarters on the 10th floor of the Hoff Building in downtown Boise.

The former governor’s role will include advising businesses and industry associations on navigating state, regional and federal processes and opportunities, the firm announced.

Otter told the Idaho Press he never felt comfortable being a hired gun. “First off, I don’t think I’d be very good at it,” said Otter, a former three-term congressman and three-term governor.

He said even back when he was working for Simplot Corp. before he launched his political career, he didn’t feel comfortable lobbying.

“I went to the powers that be in the company and said, ‘You know, unless I really can work on the issue with a clean slate, with a pure heart, it’s really difficult for me to try to convince people to vote for something that I’m not totally sold on myself,’” Otter recalled.

He recalled when he was serving in Congress, and former Idaho GOP Sen. Steve Symms arrived at his office on a lobbying mission.

“It was on a matter that he wanted me to vote a certain way on a bill,” Otter said. “And I said, ‘Steve, do you believe that?’ And he just, the room went quiet for a little bit. He kind of ran out of words. … Steve finally said, ‘You know, you’re right.’”

“I mean, he was always the happy warrior, but he just couldn’t bring himself to say, ‘No, Butch, I really believe this.’ So that’s why I’m not going to lobby. And that’s why I didn’t join the firm as a partner or as a principal, but ‘of counsel.’”

Among the firm’s long list of clients are the Idaho School Boards Association, Blue Cross of Idaho, Corizon, Moneytree Inc., FMC Corporation, Anheuser-Busch and the Idaho Associated General Contractors. You can read my full story here at idahopress.com (subscription required), or pick up today's edition of the Idaho Press; it's on the front page.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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