I agree with the Editorial Board's conclusion that I am a passionate candidate with a sharp legal mind and the full-spectrum experience that could get me elected in any number of states. But I disagree that my opponent is "right for Idaho," because at this critical time, Idahoans desperately need an advocate who will stand with them against an oppressive federal government.
After 12 years as Idaho attorney general, my opponent no longer identifies with the people he was elected to serve. He has a history of getting it wrong time and time again. Some examples are his failure to join in defense of the Sacketts - a North Idaho family unfairly persecuted by the EPA - and his actions in the Heller case, joining with New York, Chicago, and Massachusetts to deny our Second Amendment rights. In refusing to help the Sackett family, he said his duty was to a state agency, not an Idaho family. He got it wrong. Ten other states concluded that vital state rights were at issue and stood by the Sacketts.
The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that EPA tactics violated the Sacketts' constitutional rights. In the Second Amendment case, after I publicized my opponent's joinder in a legal brief that said, "There simply is no individual right to bear arms in the U.S. Constitution," he claimed it was filed by mistake. Mistake or not, he delegated protection of our Second Amendment rights to someone who rejected them. That fact is as troubling as his failure to oppose the health care exchange under the Idaho Health Freedom Act.
My opponent claims the Land Board must compete with private business, even though our Constitution guarantees protection of life, liberty and property, which includes private business. My view, that the Land Board should limit its investments to timber, minerals and other "sustainable resources," is supported by our Constitution and would return more revenue to the education endowment than risky stock market investments to which our attorney general consented, losing over $370 million of our children's education funds. Moreover, selling Idaho timber would benefit the entire wood products industry by providing raw materials locally rather than importing lumber from Canada.
My opponent is also wrong by saying we have no right to the 62 percent of Idaho under federal control and should wait for a gridlocked Congress to return it. Recovering our lands is an economic necessity. Idaho has more minimum wage jobs than all but one state, and ranks 45th in gross domestic product. Our state government balances its budget only by relying on federal funds for 36 percent of it. The U.S. is $18 trillion in debt. Our state's current path can only lead to disaster.
My opponent says we have no case because our Constitution disclaimed these lands. But that same language is found in the North Dakota Act of Admission as well as other states, who demanded and got their lands back. In 1890, the federal government owned vast tracts of land in states east of the Mississippi and owned almost 50 percent of lands in North Dakota. Today, it owns less than 5 percent of lands east of the Mississippi, and less than 4 percent in North Dakota. When those states stood up to the federal government, it backed down without a court battle.
As a result, North Dakota's economy is booming. The state boasts budget surpluses. Minimum wage jobs pay $15 to $17 an hour, highly paid jobs are in abundance; there is virtually no unemployment. Idaho has similar natural resources locked away in federal control. The time is right for a change. We need an attorney general who will be the people's advocate.
Chris Troupis is an Eagle attorney seeking the Republican nomination for Idaho attorney general.