Labrador wants distance from friend Crane on Rosa Parks flub

Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador’s spokesman asked that a photo including Labrador alongside Idaho House Assistant Majority Leader Brent Crane, R-Nampa, be replaced on the Statesman’s website.

The photo accompanied my column Friday exploring Crane’s erroneous claim that civil rights icon Rosa Parks was standing up to the federal government in 1955 when she was arrested for refusing to obey a Montgomery, Ala., city ordinance that required she give up her seat on a bus to a white man.

Crane invoked the memory of Parks during his debate last week in opposition to Gov. Butch Otter’s bill to establish a state-run health insurance exchange under the U.S. Affordable Care Act, saying, “One little lady got tired of the federal government telling her what to do.”

Labrador took the unusual step of lobbying against state legislation in at least two Statehouse meetings with freshman members of the Idaho House. The late-January meetings were arranged by Crane.

Crane, a top prospect for Labrador’s congressional seat should Labrador decided to run for governor against Otter in the 2014 Republican primary, is among Labrador’s closest friends. The photo was taken when Labrador was in the Idaho House in 2010. Also pictured is then-Rep. and now state Sen. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian.

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Shortly after 5 p.m. Friday, Labrador’s spokesman in Washington, D.C., Michael Tate, sent me the following brief email:  “I noticed an article from you today featured a photo of Congressman Labrador in a story not about him. Politely wondering if you are able to use a photo in the story without my boss?”

I forwarded Tate’s email to our photo chief, Joe Jaszewski, who picked the photo for our website.

Replied Jaszewski: “The story does highlight the relationship between Crane and Labrador, so I think it’s entirely appropriate to use a photo in which they are both pictured. Rep. Labrador is in the background and out-of-focus, which I believe to be a proper treatment considering he isn’t the main focus of the story. But is nevertheless included.”

Given the relationship between Crane and Labrador and Labrador’s involvement in the health exchange issue, I’d say chose Jaszewski chose well.

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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