Endorsement: Wasden Brings Reason, Independence
Times-News Editorial Board
Posted: May 16, 2014, 2:00 AM
Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden is unafraid of reprisals from his own party. He is reasoned and competent. Quite honestly, he's one of our favorite state officials.
That's why we wholeheartedly support Wasden's pursuit for a third term in the May 20 Republican primary.
There's a distinct philosophical divide between incumbent Wasden and challenger Chris Troupis. The Eagle attorney has gotten under the attorney general's skin. After sitting with Troupis for an hour or so, it's pretty clear that he's much more than most media portrayals of him. He's not just a fire-and-brimstone religious crusader. Troupis is a solid attorney with a legit legal background. He's an activist with a pitbull mentality.
Yet, we found the incumbent more reasonable, more grounded. Troupis believes the state should defend Idaho citizens in court battles with federal regulators. What's next, a free state defense for white collar criminals? That's madness.
Wasden is under assault by the GOP's right-flank because he has argued the state can't seize 34 million acres of federal lands through a lawsuit. Only an act of Congress can transfer title to Idaho, Wasden argues. He's also cited Idaho's Constitution when defending state ownership of rental properties, managed by the Board of Land Commissioners, on which the attorney general sits.
Anger over these two issues are at the core of the tea party insurgency resulting in a right-wing candidate for all five constitutional offices with Land Board seats.
Troupis disagrees with Wasden on both counts. He would lead Idaho head-long into a pricey, doomed lawsuit against the federal government. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed federal ownership of western lands in 1890. That's 124 years of established legal precedent, reinforced by the deal Idaho — and other western states — made when it petitioned for statehood. Plus, state ownership would no doubt lead to land sales of big timber and mining tracts. We happen to like our hiking, hunting and fishing access, thank you very much.
But Troupis had some interesting ideas, too. He pointed to the inherent conflicts created by the Attorney General's Office simultaneously providing legal counsel for the various state agencies and the Legislature. Troupis said, if elected, he would lobby for in-house counsel for each agency and department. This concept is a wise one, and something the state should pursue. But under Troupis' plan, the freed-up lawyers would be tapped to fight the pointless battles we already mentioned.
That's not such a great idea. We fear Troupis would waste taxpayer's time and resources fighting losing statement battles.
When it comes down to it, we find Wasden one of Idaho's most candid and thoughtful elected officials. He's blunt, honest and much more politically savvy then he likes to let on.
Wasden does right by Idaho and he deserves another four years.