The following is an opinion piece that Tony Park and I prepared after it was announced that former Idaho Attorney General Dave Leroy had endorsed Raul Labrador for Attorney General. Leroy is the only one of seven living Idaho AGs to do so. Tony, a Democrat, served from 1971 to 1975. I was twice elected on the Republican ticket and served from 1983 to 1991.
Our friend, David Leroy, who joined us in strongly supporting Lawrence Wasden against Raul Labrador in the primary election, has now endorsed Labrador because he will be “a trusted member of the majority party.” With our combined experience of 12 years in that office, we can attest that the office must be operated free of politics. It is a legal office, not a partisan operation. The AG must give accurate, unbiased legal advice to the government to keep it out of legal jeopardy. Members of the AG’s own party often try to interfere, demanding that legal advice be skewed to serve their political interests. Lawrence rightly resisted that improper influence, standing up for the rule of law.
Our friend gives the impression that Idaho has suffered “courtroom losses that have been so costly to our taxpayers” because of Wasden. We have observed the work of Wasden’s office through the lens of our experience and can attest that it has been excellent. The reason the State has lost some cases in recent years is because the extremist legislators who support Labrador have consistently refused to take Wasden’s sound legal advice.
Leroy criticized Arkoosh for saying the State had no legitimate defense to a federal suit to protect the lives of pregnant women in the emergency room setting. Tom forthrightly stated that there is no legal, moral or ethical defense to an Idaho abortion law that would prevent women with serious pregnancy complications from getting life-saving medical care in hospital emergency rooms. It is unconscionable that Labrador supports a sloppily drafted law that would criminalize doctors for providing that care.
On the other hand, Tom has strongly condemned a federal lawsuit that challenges Idaho laws regarding water rights on federal rangelands. He stands strong for the principle that all water rights issues in Idaho must be decided under Idaho law by Idaho courts.
And speaking of water, Labrador made the naive statement on August 25 that he would “craft sensible policies with our sister states to ensure we have the resources necessary for sustained economic growth.” As former AGs, we know that all of our sister states want to grab as much Idaho water as they can for their own use. With the growing need for water throughout Idaho and declining available supplies, Idaho cannot afford to have a pliable water greenhorn like Labrador in the AG’s office. Tom Arkoosh has practiced in the water arena for decades and is dedicated to protecting Idaho water for use in Idaho. He is an expert in water law and has pledged to use that expertise to try to work out compromises among competing water users in this time of scarcity.
The choice between candidates is clearcut. Tom Arkoosh has been a county prosecutor, has had a successful and wide-ranging legal practice for over four decades, has hundreds of trials and appeals in state and federal court under his belt and has earned a reputation as a wise attorney and vigorous advocate. He does not need a job, has not been a partisan hack and has no future political ambitions. He appreciates the non-political manner in which Lawrence Wasden has handled the AG office and would, himself, reject political demands from all sides and uphold the law.
Labrador, on the other hand, opposed making medical care available to all Idahoans. He made the preposterous claim that “nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care.” He opposed Medicaid expansion in Idaho. In Congress, he voted against funding the Idaho National Laboratory in eastern Idaho. On the Central District Health Board, he discouraged masking and vaccinations. His legal experience has largely been in immigration law, which is not part of the work of the Attorney General’s office. He supports the extremist branch of the Republican Party that is under the spell of the Idaho Freedom Foundation and John Birch Society.
Tom Arkoosh will serve as the State’s chief legal officer for the benefit of all Idahoans, whether Democrat, Republican, independent or any other persuasion. An Attorney General dedicated to following the law will be a godsend to those traditional, pragmatic Republicans, both in and out of public office, who yearn for a return to Constitutional governing.