Northern Idaho lawmaker stripped of committee assignments
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho Rep. Heather Scott has been stripped of her legislative committee assignments after commenting to another female lawmaker that women only move up in the Legislature by trading sexual favors.
House Speaker Scott Bedke announced the rarely-used punishment on the House floor on Thursday. Scott moved her chair behind a column in the back of the House floor while the clerk read the speaker’s decision.
“Ultimately, the buck stops here. I don’t do these things lightly or in a knee-jerk way,” Bedke later told reporters. “No one likes things like this, but I did not set these events into action.”
Scott, a Republican from Blanchard, made the remark to Rep. Judy Boyle during the Legislature’s organization session on Dec. 1. Boyle had just been named chair of the House Agriculture Committee and Scott told her in front of other lawmakers that women only receive coveted leadership positions if they “spread their legs.” Since then, multiple lawmakers have demanded Scott be reprimanded or offer a public apology.
″(Scott) has displayed aggressive and anti-social behavior by sneering and glaring at members during meetings and in passing in the halls,” Rep. Christy Perry, R-Nampa, wrote in a letter to Bedke. “She has even gone so far as to make false allegations regarding members of the caucus to others within the caucus and in the public realm.”
Scott released a statement on her Facebook page Thursday afternoon that focused almost exclusively on criticizing Idaho’s news outlets and establishment legislators for attempting to undermine conservatives.
“Too much has been hidden from the citizens and they deserve to know what is going on in their government,” Scott said in a prepared statement. “The words I used to express a legitimate concern may have been too harsh, and I apologize for that as I never intended to offend anyone.”
Bedke said his decision is not unprecedented, but it is the first time he’s done so since stepping into the top leadership position in 2013.
“It’s not permanent, nothing around here is permanent,” Bedke said. “But it will just all depend.”
Scott will no longer serve on House Commerce and Human Resources, Environment and Energy and Technology or State Affairs.
Committee assignments are crucial placements to shape and vote on legislation. Serving on legislative committees allows lawmakers to have first-hand knowledge of what bills are moving through the Capitol, advocate for key issues on behalf of their constituents and gather valuable expertise on legislative subjects.
Scott exercised this influence during her first legislative session in 2014. She successfully led an effort to kill a bill in a legislative committee on the final day of the session after falsely claiming that the bill would authorize Shariah law in the United States. Once the bill was dead, Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter was forced to call lawmakers back for a special legislative session to pass the legislation.
The conservative lawmaker has been praised by the far right groups for voting no on most bills and opposing refugee resettlement in Idaho.
With no committee obligations, Scott will only be allowed to vote on legislation once it makes it onto the House floor.
“The speaker has my full support,” said Rep. Tom Loertscher, chairman of the House State Affairs Committee. “There’s a cloud hanging over you. Accusations with no founding to them can become a huge problem for the whole body.”