Janice McGeachin

Janice McGeachin

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Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin today said the reason she didn’t sign an Idaho GOP statement last week condemning protests at public officials’ homes and vandalism of the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial with swastikas was because she was busy scrambling to pull together the signatures on an amicus brief supporting a Texas lawsuit that sought unsuccessfully to overturn the presidential election results in four other states.

“I was busy doing my job as lieutenant governor, I was busy supporting our president,” McGeachin said today. “We were scrambling to get an amicus brief submitted before the Supreme Court the very next day. … I was busy doing my job and supporting our president. That’s why my name wasn’t on the list. I honestly just did not have time.”

The statement was signed by two party officials, the governor, the congressional delegation and five area mayors.

The U.S. Supreme Court has since unanimously dismissed the Texas lawsuit, ruling that Texas had no standing to challenge other states’ elections. You can read my full story here at idahopress.com (subscription required).

McGeachin, responding to reporters’ questions during an “Idaho Strong” virtual press conference, did condemn the Nazi symbols placed at the human rights memorial. “The swastika is a symbol that was used by the Nazis, and what the Nazis perpetrated on the Jewish people was nothing short of evil,” she said. “I believe that the Jewish people are the chosen people of God. I am a Christian. I stand with the Jewish people and I stand with the nation of Israel.”

She added, “There is a police investigation that’s ongoing of that incident. I don’t know of any Nazi sympathizers, but I can’t understand why anybody would want to perpetuate that.”

She didn’t, however, condemn the raucous protest last week at public officials’ homes, including members of the board of Central District Health. That board is meeting against this afternoon, after last week’s meeting had to be halted because of security concerns.

McGeachin instead first referred to protests outside U.S. Senate GOP Chairman Mitch McConnell’s home in Kentucky, then accused the mainstream media of fomenting harassment of businesses. She said news media in Idaho and elsewhere “put out the list of businesses and addresses and even pictures of my businesses out there for people to call and harass. That’s what called doxing,” she said. “I would suggest that the mainstream media stop that.”

“I do not advocate for that. It has happened to me. I don’t advocate for that and it’s not my style,” she said.

It's unclear what she was referring to, but it may have been recent reporting by news media both in Idaho and elsewhere on businesses that received federal Paycheck Protection Program forgivable loans. McGeachin's businesses received $314,727 under that coronavirus relief program, according to the Associated Press.

When Idaho Strong organizer Gabriel Rench of Moscow said, “I don’t think people should protest at homes,” and added, “I’ve got kids – I don’t want people protesting me at my house,” McGeachin was asked if she agreed with Rench.

“I don’t support doxing and I don’t support harassing people at their businesses or their homes,” McGeachin said. “Because it’s happened to me. I don’t advocate that, it’s not my style.”

However, McGeachin lauded the crowd of anti-mask protesters that showed up at the Central District Health offices last week. “These are not just minor restrictions that they are discussing putting on our lives,” she said. “I think people have every right and they need to speak up. And I want to thank those who are speaking up and showing up because I do think it’s making a difference.”

She did, however, call on protesters to “do it in a manner that’s respectful and in courtesy.”

“I wasn’t there last week,” McGeachin said. “I saw the video of people outside Central District Health. And I didn’t see any harassment or intimidation. I saw people expressing their First Amendment right. … I didn’t see any of what some of them have been accused of.”

There was one arrest for trespassing at the protest, of a protester who entered the CDH building and refused to follow COVID-19-related restrictions. Boise Police have announced that they had information that a small group among the protesters was planning to forcibly disrupt the meeting; that was part of the reason for the meeting’s cancellation after just 15 minutes, along with raucous protests at multiple board members’ homes. One arrest has been made for those and two more arrest warrants are pending.

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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