Gov. Butch Otter told me this morning there’s been some confusion about whether he lobbied legislators to go slow on authorizing GARVEE debt for highway construction on a visit to the Idaho Capitol as a congressman in 2006.
On Thursday, I blogged about that moment under the headline, “Did Otter really never lobby Legislature while he was in Congress?”
The governor asked that I clarify that post, to make it clear that in his mind there is no question about the matter.
“I was invited,” he said, buttonholing me before his annual talk to the Idaho Press Club. “I had announced I was running for governor. I was asked the question and I answered it. Some people have said, ‘What? Were you lobbying?’ No, I wasn’t.”
My Thursday post drew a distinction between Otter’s 2006 answer to a question from then-Rep. Shirley McKague, R-Meridian, and Congressman Raul Labrador’s one-on-one lobbying of two freshman Republicans last week opposition to Otter’s push for a state-run health insurance exchange.
Young journalists are taught that question headlines are perilous. This case proves the point.
So, let me be clear: In 2006, Otter was offering his view as a member of Congress running for governor, saying the Legislature should be mindful about the stability of the federal Highway Trust Fund. The Legislature wound up scaling back Gov. Dirk Kempthorne’s GARVEE plan from $1.6 billion to about $1 billion. Otter’s engagement in 2006 was considerably different than Labrador’s effort in 2013.