Reacting to LeFavour’s hiding in closet, Idaho Senate suspends her floor privileges (w/photo)

After Idaho Sen. Nicole LeFavour spent more than five hours in an 11-by-4 closet just off the Senate floor, the Senate voted Wednesday to temporarily suspend her floor privileges.

The change is only for the balance of the 2014 session, which is expected to end this week. Former lawmakers are given special access, including to hallways and offices surrounding the circular chamber.

On Tuesday, the Boise Democrat hid in the closet attached to a private lounge immediately behind the Senate’s presiding officer on the west end of the Capitol’s third floor.

The room is often used by lawmakers to take calls and hold meetings, particularly during Senate floor sessions. LeFavour was crouched on the floor underneath the clothing rack (pictured below), when she was discovered by Assistant Sergeant at Arms Jerry Csutoras, said Csutoras.

LeFavour closet

The Senate’s 28-6 vote to suspend LeFavour’s privilege was reported Betsy Russell of the Spokesman-Review. LeFavour is leading protests to amend the Idaho Human Rights Act to protect lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people from discrimination. A film crew has been documenting the protests, which have included nearly 200 arrests.

“I’ll not speculate as to her motives, but from where she was hiding, she was able to eavesdrop on private discussions and telephone conversations in this room behind the chamber,” said Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg. “She has demonstrated disregard for the law, resulting in multiple arrests this session. We cannot have anyone abusing their privileges in the Senate.”

Russell also quoted Moscow Democratic Sen. Dan Schmidt, one of six votes against the temporary rule suspension.

“I reluctantly will oppose this motion,” Schmidt said. “I feel I can understand the behaviors that we have seen, which I don’t condone and am not going to support. But I believe this is the wrong response. I believe there could have been and should be a different response, and I believe this response is incorrect, so I will be opposing this motion.”

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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