Smith twists politics of Idaho Rep. Simpson’s vote to fund NSA surveillance

Challenger Bryan Smith wrongly says Idaho 2nd District GOP Congressman Mike Simpson “yet again…voted with liberal Democrats” to reject an amendment to strip funding for the National Security Agency’s controversial program that collects phone records of U.S. citizens and residents.

In a news release, Smith correctly noted that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., favored supporting the NSA. But Pelosi abandoned her liberal base to back the program, which the government says is vital to detecting terrorist plans.

The coalition to end funding was dominated by liberal Democrats, joined by a smaller number of tea party and libertarian Republicans, including Idaho’s 1st District Rep. Raul Labrador.

The vote was on an amendment to a defense spending bill co-authored by tea party Republican Justin Amash and liberal lion John Conyers, both of Michigan.

The Amash Amendment failed on a 205-217 vote Wednesday. Backing continued funding of the NSA program were 134 Republicans and 83 Democrats, while 94 Republicans and 111 Democrats voted to kill the surveillance.

In short, Simpson voted with the majority of his Republican Party, while Labrador sided with liberal Democrats.

Details of the program were leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who remains stuck the Moscow airport seeking asylum. The Obama administration wants Snowden returned for prosecution.

Smith, an Idaho Falls lawyer, is running to unseat Simpson in the May 2014 Republican primary. Simpson is seeking a ninth two-year term; Smith is making his first run for public office.

Smith’s news release follows:

For Immediate Release – July 25, 2013

Contact: Carrie Brown 208-538-9683 or

Simpson Votes to Continue Government Secret Surveillance Programs

Idaho Falls – Yesterday, Congressman Mike Simpson voted against an amendment introduced by Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, which would have ended the intrusive federal government secret surveillance programs of the National Security Agency (NSA).

The amendment would have canceled the statutory authority for the NSA program, ending the agency’s ability to collect phone records and metadata under the USA Patriot Act unless it identified an individual under investigation.

“Yet again, Congressman Mike Simpson voted with liberal Democrats including Nancy Pelosi, instead of protecting the rights of the citizens of Idaho’s second congressional district. Those security programs were established under fear and are nothing more than another way the federal government intrudes into the private lives of American citizens,” says Bryan Smith.

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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