Another Idaho tour guide: Minnick leads students through closed Capitol

Idaho Republican Congressman Raul Labrador got some great press last week for taking nine Nampa High School students and two teachers on a Capitol Hill tour Friday, despite the government shutdown.

The man he beat in 2010 to represent Idaho’s 1st Congressional District —  former Democratic Congressman Walt Minnick also offered a tour to a closed Capitol.

But rather than the heroic portrayal Labrador received from Idaho media, Minnick was called out in a Capitol Hill newspaper’s gossip column for bending the rules to accommodate 25 students from Miami University in Ohio.

Minnick, now a lobbyist, is permitted to give tours as a former member of the House. But the rules say groups must be limited to 10 during the government shutdown, according to “Heard on the Hill,” the column in Roll Call.

“The tour did violate the 10-person limit imposed by officials, though,” wrote Roll Call’s Hannah Hess, who also noted that the students came from Speaker John Boehner’s district. Minnick said that was a coincidence.

Minnick told Hess that he convinced Capitol Police to allow the larger group and said they may have “collectively conspired to bend the rules for a bunch of kids.”

“Please don’t give the speaker hell for this,” Minnick told Hess.

Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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