Last week the Idaho Freedom Foundation’s (IFF) lobbying arm, the Idaho Freedom PAC, endorsed militia leader Ammon Bundy for governor. In a time of increasingly violent political rhetoric and actions in our country, and at a point in the campaign that has seen Bundy’s divisive and extreme rhetoric intensified, it’s disturbing for the IFF to throw their considerable weight behind Governor Little’s longshot third party challenger.
While the IFF has seemingly gotten more comfortable cozying up with fringe extremists, they still have notable sway over many GOP legislators, and therefore state policy. In response to this dangerous validation of Bundy and his followers, a growing coalition of law enforcement, business, faith, military, and other leaders called on other Republican elected officials to denounce the endorsement. The Defend and Protect Idaho’s chair, retired Sheriff Gary Raney released the following statement:
“Ammon Bundy, and political extremists like him, exploit our electoral system, promote their brands, and spread extreme and intolerant views. Idahoans from across the state call on fellow citizens to unite against the threat this poses to Idaho’s way of life.
Our state was built on hard work, respect for each other, and a commitment to serve our communities. Unfortunately, political violence is once being stoked in our great state, threatening the safe, secure Idaho we know and love. That’s why it’s more important than ever that leaders in our communities use their voices and their actions to stand firmly united against bigotry, political violence, and extremism in all its forms. Together, we can stop extremists from using our state and our political system to spread hate and division.”
The Defend and Protect Idaho’s press release advocates for “the importance of rule of law, civility, and protecting our democracy in the face of increasing threats.” They go on to outline the ways in which this partnership between Ammon Bundy and the IFF flies in the face of those values:
“Bundy, who has been prone to use threats and intimidation, has used increasingly violent rhetoric in his campaign, specifically targeting law enforcement, elected officials, healthcare workers, members of the LGBTQ community, and Idahoans who oppose his extreme ideology.
The IFF has also begun to embrace violent political extremism in its primary and general election campaigning. A staff person for the IFF attended the rally that shut down medical service at St. Luke’s hospital, and staff have encouraged violence against law enforcement. Despite this growing extremism, IFF holds considerable influence over members of the Idaho Republican Party, which makes their endorsement of Bundy — and more pointedly, against Governor Little — even more alarming.“
The statement was picked up by KTVB’s Morgan Romero and has some traction on Twitter. We’ll keep you covered if any Republicans stand with this coalition in their call to denounce the IFF’s endorsement of Ammon Bundy. In the meantime, you can find the full press release here.