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Posts published in “Day: September 15, 2016”

Brody v. McKenzie


No, Brody vs. Mckenzie is not the name of some famous legal case that one should know something about. However, it is the last name of the two finalists seeking a rare open seat on Idaho’s State Supreme Court, and Idaho voters should know who they are and what their approach to the law is.

Unfortunately, there are too few who know who they are and where they stand on the various complex matters that come before the Supreme Court.

Idaho’s few political pundits believe Ms. Brody will win largely based on her having won the May primary, with 30.3% of the vote to McKenzie’s 20.7% (45,282 votes to 41,348). In addition, the Rupert attorney who practices business and water law, represents schools and hospitals as well as small farmers, is also a competent trial attorney. The $176,000 she raised for the primary was more funds than her three challengers combined.

State Senator Curt McKenzie’s supporters question why trial attornies are so heavily investing in her candidacy, not so subtley implying she would be indebted to them and favor their side of cases regardless of the law. It’s a vicious canard and has no place in a judicial campaign. Supporters of Ms. Brody in turn have encouraged her to cite Idaho Power’s strong support for McKenzie by allegedly”loaning” Governor Otter’s former campaign chief, Jeff Malmen, to McKenzie to offer advice. Malmen is now the government affairs director for Idaho Power.

Her reluctance to make an issue of Malmen’s role may in part stem from her utilization of another Otter campaign staffer, Jason Lehosit, to provide her advice.

Asked how she responds to the trial attorney issue, she smiles, cites her broad-based clientele and then says “I also tell folks the most famous trial attorney ever was a man named Abraham Lincoln.”

The other reasons she will win are because she is the better candidate, has more personality, and has run a smarter campaign than has the conservative Republican Senator from Boise more noted for his strong pro-life views than anything else.

Brody has campaigned all across Idaho, spoken before Republican and Democratic gatherings, Rotary Clubs, and any group that will give her a lectern. Whenever she hits a community she already has a list of that communities “movers and shakers,” and she starts dialing the phone and introducing herself. In short, she is running a traditional Idaho campaign that stresses the importance of personal relationships.

She exerts energy, smarts, charm and has a nice narrative. Born in Wayne City, Michigan 46years ago, she and her siblings moved frequently because both parents worked for United Airlines. She attended high school in Colorado and then attended the University of Denver on a scholarship majoring in International Studies and Russian. She spent one year in St. Petersburg, then returned to the University of Denver where she double-majored, obtaining her law degree while also getting an MA in International Studies.

She married another attorney who had fallen hard for Idaho and had located in Twin Falls. They have two boys and are active members in the Rupert Catholic parish. For her first ten years in Idaho she worked for and became a partner in a small but well-known Twin Falls law firm. Then she decided she had to shorten her commute so founded her own law firm in Rupert just around the corner from the police station and the courthouse.

Her former partners all speak highly of her and she received the highest rating from the Idaho Bar Association. She has always displayed great respect for the concept of legal precedence and does not believe judges should be activists creating new law.

Everywhere she goes she makes new friends. She is proud that she has campaign coordinators in 38 of Idaho’s 44 counties and hopes to have all 44 covered by October 1st.

If elected she would be the third female member ever to serve on the Court following Linda Trout and Cathy Silak both of whom were initially appointed by Governor Cecil Andrus and then stood for election . She does not make her gender a major part of her pitch, instead stressing her competence and judicial temperament. She does, however, say she believes she would bring a unique and broadening perspective to the bench.

In the May primary approximately 180,000 ballots were cast, a miserable turnout of 23% of eligible voters. Even more sad was that there was a “drop-off” of 30,000 voters not bothering to even make a choice in the Supreme Court race.

Here’s hoping Idaho voters recognize the opportunity to elect a truly exceptional candidate who will make them proud.

Trump 55: Financial entanglements


This disqualifier was of such large significance that it was slated for later in this series. But an article in Newsweek out this week delivered the subject with such breadth and strength that it might as well be addressed now: The vast global financial entanglements of Donald Trump, his company and his family.

We live in a small world when it comes to business activities, and large American businesses do not tend to stay locked within our national borders. Some of those international connections are relatively modest (my small publishing company has sold a handful of books to customers in Europe). Others are large, to the point that big portions of a business are intimately tied to their international partners. So it is with the Trumps. There's nothing illegal or immoral in that, and many businesses have foreign connections as broad or broader.

But when the principal in such a company is a candidate for president, the whole thing becomes a lot more problematic.

The Newsweek piece, by Kurt Eichenwald, starts, "If Donald Trump is elected president, will he and his family permanently sever all connections to the Trump Organization, a sprawling business empire that has spread a secretive financial web across the world? Or will Trump instead choose to be the most conflicted president in American history, one whose business interests will constantly jeopardize the security of the United States?"

Trump's active and prospective business relationships - many of which these days have to do not with construction (which he's done little of since 2007) but with branding with his name - are global, in countries we consider close allies, countries which are often adversarial, and others that are in between. These include the Middle East, where his relationships with people of influence can be reasonably called . . . complicated, and sometimes difficult.

Trump has said that if he becomes president, he would turn over the running of the Trump organization to his children. That would not be remotely adequate. He would be well aware of what effect the nation's foreign policy would have on his business, and vice versa. Which would win out? What about gray areas? What about rationalizing?

Moreover, we have seriously incomplete information about what Trump and his business - and he is linked to 500 or more business entities - are doing around the world. His income tax reports would help along those lines, but he has refused to release them. Nor has he released - or provided on federal disclosure forms - the extent of his interests, obligations or transactions in or with other countries. We simply don't know who he's financially involved with. (We do know that the list of shady characters is extensive, to include former Libya strongman Muammar Gadafi. When he complains about Hillary Clinton's role in the toppling of Gadafi, remember that Trump spent year trying to get the dictator to approve a seaside resort at Tripoli.)

When I posted the Newsweek piece on Facebook, one commenter remarked, "but of course hillary has no such connections." As a matter of fact, she doesn't. The Clintons have a great deal of money but it was made through speeches, book sales and the like; they have no large international business. The Clinton Global Foundation has been a non-profit, quite transparent in its recordkeeping (an example Hillary Clinton could benefit from), and the Clintons draw no salary from it. They have no personal gain from any of its operations.

In fact no previous candidate for president - including 2012 candidate Mitt Romney, who led a large and sprawling business - has had anything like the kind of foreign business ties Trump has.

The Newsweek piece concludes, "Never before has an American candidate for president had so many financial ties with American allies and enemies, and never before has a business posed such a threat to the United States. If Donald Trump wins this election and his company is not immediately shut down or forever severed from the Trump family, the foreign policy of the United States of America could well be for sale."

Among the 100 disqualifers of Donald Trump for the presidency, this has to rank as one of the most serious. - rs