(UPDATED, 10:38 a.m., with statement from Nate.)
The relationship between two Rexburg Republicans — Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill and state Rep. Ron Nate — just got a little bit more complicated.
Nate secretly recorded a telephone conversation with Hill, a move criticized by legislative leaders, Bryan Clark of the Idaho Falls Post Register reported Tuesday.
The conversation occurred some time after the May 17 primary, when Nate secured the GOP nomination by narrowly defeating challenger Doug Ricks. Hill had contributed $1,000 to Ricks’ campaign.
In an email to Clark, Nate essentially confirmed the existence of a recording, but declined to release its contents. Contacted by Clark, Hill confirmed the conversation had been taped, but declined further comment.
Speaking in general terms, several legislative leaders condemned the practice of secretly recording a conversation with a colleague.
“Lawmakers that secretly record one another have no other motive than to set their colleagues up and play ‘gotcha’ with them down the road,” House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, told Clark. “It’s conduct unbecoming a member of the House of Representatives, and I believe that it is misconduct.”
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As Clark also reported, “conduct unbecoming a representative” is a violation of House rules, and could be subject to an ethics committee investigation.
It’s also worth noting the history between Bedke and Nate. This spring, Bedke contributed to 21 House Republicans facing primary opposition. Nate was one of four incumbents who did not receive a donation.
In the interest of full disclosure, here’s the backstory on some history between Idaho Education News and Nate.
On Wednesday, Nate posted a response on his campaign Facebook page — calling the Post Register story an “attack.” Here’s the statement, in full:
The “establishment” in Idaho politics runs on backroom deals, party politics, cronyism, and betrayal of the public trust. In just two years in the Idaho legislature we have seen far too much lying and cheating in the Capitol. The recent May Primary brought some of those same bad acts to Madison County. It is “unbecoming” for career politicians to go back on their words, to misrepresent, and to allow falsehoods to stand as truth. The only way for those in the cross-hairs to protect themselves is to hold the offenders accountable. Recording a conversation is perfectly legal and is the best way to get an accurate and verifiable account. Honest people will never worry about being recorded because what they say in private is the same as what they say in public. Idahoans need legislators who will stand up for the citizens of Idaho and push back against the establishment who are more interested in the powers and perks of public office than in doing what is right for the people. We are in a battle for our liberty; it is real and it’s being waged in Washington, D.C., Boise, and even in District 34.