Idaho Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin defied local law enforcement and once again disrupted the chain of command in advocating against protecting the rights of a severely malnourished 10-month-old baby. McGeachin has also revealed the name of the minor child on her official Facebook page, recording videos about the confidential case from her office.
The baby in question is the grandson of Diego Rodriguez, family friend and campaign consultant to Independent candidate for governor Ammon Bundy. According to the AP, Bundy was arrested for refusing to leave St. Luke’s Meridian after involving himself in a child-welfare case. The arrest early March 12 was on the eve of this week’s unrelated trial stemming from his arrests in 2021 at the Idaho Capitol.
Authorities took the child from his mother because a local pediatrician found that the child was dangerously underweight.
In February, Bundy dropped out of the Republican primary, which is May 17, to run as an independent in November. The move was thought to be a boost to McGeachin, who has picked off numerous former Bundy supporters tied to militias, including Eric Parker and Todd Engel.
Rodriguez told the Idaho Statesman he was thankful for McGeachin’s support.
“We feel grateful for all of the outpouring of support from everyone in our community,” Rodriguez said. “Times like these transcend politics. We sincerely thank Janice McGeachin for weighing in on behalf of (the baby). God bless Janice for her courage and her prayers.”
In what appears to be a politically motivated stunt to appeal further to extremist supporters in Bundy’s camp, on Monday, McGeachin attempted to advocate against protecting the health rights of the minor child, attempting to involve her Republican primary opponent, Gov. Brad Little.
The Idaho Statesman reported that Brady Hall, the governor’s general counsel, responded to McGeachin, saying he “cannot and will not recommend Governor Little interfere with the legal process.”
Hall went on to say: “Idaho law mandates that pediatricians and other medical professionals report suspected child neglect and abuse to law enforcement who will remove the child if necessary to protect the child from death or serious physical harm. Our legislature entrusts law enforcement to make those difficult and somber decisions.”
Hall said the names and medical conditions of the child or parents will not be released and are considered highly confidential. In a Facebook video uploaded Monday, McGeachin revealed the first name of the baby. Rodridguez’s blog, Freedom Man, has gone further with doxxing, publishing the names and addresses of the pediatrician, social workers, and police officers, prompting local officials’ condemnation.
The national calls from Bundy and McGeachin to their supporters to complain about the malnourished baby being removed from his mother have caused strife for the Ada County Sheriff’s office.
Ada County Sheriff issued this statement on Tuesday, March 15 on Facebook:
“I know there are a lot of questions about a Meridian Police case involving a declaration of imminent danger for a 10-month old child who was reported to be suffering from malnourishment.
“I have spoken with Meridian Police Chief Tracy Basterrechea and I am confident in his officers’ decision-making. Based on what I know, I fully support how they handled what was a very difficult and complex situation.
“Given the same circumstances, our investigators would have likely arrived at the same conclusion and made the same decisions.
“I know there are some in our community who do not approve of what happened. I want you to know “probable cause” has a very high threshold, and investigators do not make that finding lightly.
“There isn’t a single law enforcement officer in Ada County that wants to separate a child from a parent. We always want to preserve the ability for families to stay together if safely possible. First and foremost, however, is the safety of the child.
“Our local law enforcement agencies are faced with incredibly difficult situations like this more often than I would like.
“Investigators from our agency had to declare imminent danger in over 40 different cases in 2021. Each case was unique and complex — and there was clear and comprehensive evidence for investigators to declare a person to be in imminent danger in every one of those cases.
“Sometimes the issue is child abuse. Sometimes it’s about filthy living conditions. Sometimes the cases involve kids having immediate access to drugs. Sometimes it is a medical issue.
“I understand people are concerned and have questions. Meridian Police have done a thorough job of publicly documenting the decisions their investigators made at https://bit.ly/3tbNulJ and https://www.facebook.com/MeridianPD/posts/279481404356792
“At this point, the case is now in the hands of the 4th District Court and the family court judges, who are experts in what they do. The court will evaluate the evidence and determine what happens next.
“I do want to ask people who are upset with what is happening to please stop calling our Emergency 911 Ada County Dispatch Center and our ACSO records clerks.
“Our dispatchers need to be able to concentrate on taking 911 and the urgent non-emergency calls and coordinating emergency response for over a dozen police, fire, and EMS in Ada County.
“Every call placed to dispatch or our clerks about this case makes it more difficult for those hard-working and essential workers to do their jobs and puts the safety of Ada County residents at unnecessary risk.”