Labrador-Simpson tensions go public

Bad blood between Republican U.S. Reps. Raul Labrador and Mike Simpson came into full public view Tuesday.

Raul Labrador
Rep. Raul Labrador

In a Boise State Public Radio interview, Labrador called Simpson’s character into question — and called his colleague a liar. And it all centers, oddly enough, on a secondary issue on Capitol Hill: funding rural schools.

Last week, Idaho’s two House members split their vote on a bill that contained a two-year extension for the Secure Rural Schools and Self-Determination Act. The 2000 federal law provides funding for counties and schools in timber country, and provided about $7.2 million for Idaho schools in 2013-14.

The funding was part of H.R. 2, a larger Medicare spending bill, which passed the House 392-37. Simpson voted yes; Labrador voted no.

Mike Simpson
Rep. Mike Simpson

Simpson went on the barely veiled offensive, in a news release Thursday. “Though H.R. 2 is not perfect, you would have to look long and hard to find a reason to vote no.”

Now to Tuesday, and Labrador’s Boise State Public Radio interview. You can (and should) listen to the entire segment at this link. But here’s an excerpt.

“Mike Simpson has been part of the establishment in Washington D.C. for 12 years,” Labrador said. “He loves to go out drinking and smoking with the Speaker (John Boehner). He loves to have these relationships where it’s all about making false promises to his constituents and then going back there to Washington D.C. to compromise. … “We’re different kinds of politicians.  I will not lie to my constituents. I won’t say something in my campaign that is totally different than what I do during my time as a member of Congress.”

In a statement to Boise State Public Radio, Simpson spokeswoman Nikki Wallace called Labrador’s comments “nonsense” and “undignified.”

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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