Group releases conservative ratings

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Local legislators got the grade, with several of the most conservative in the state hailing from North Idaho, according to the American Conservative Union Foundation.

In District 1, Rep. Heather Scott scored a perfect rating of 100 percent, Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, received a 31-percent score, while Rep. Sage Dixon scored 94 percent. In District 7, which includes the southern portion of Bonner County, state Rep. Priscilla Giddings scored 95 percent and Rep. Paul Shepherd scored 87 percent, while on the Senate side, Carl Crabtree received score of 88 percent.

Based in Washington, D.C., the ACU is a political organization that advocates and lobbies for conservative principles and candidates.

“ACU researched and selected a range of bills before the Idaho Legislature that determine a member’s adherence to conservative principles,” states the group’s website regarding its scoring method.

Keough said she hadn’t had time to look at the report in detail, but said it looked like a budget bill or two may have been graded.

“If so, often times ‘grading’ entities forget that a budget has to pass in order for an agency to provide service to the public,” she said in an email to The Daily Bee.

Dixon said he considered the rating from ACUF to be “an accurate gauge of conservative values within the state Legislature.”

Scott, R-Blanchard, who was one of 16 state representatives who made the “conservative excellence” list, said the score reflects her efforts to help District 1 residents.

“I am proud of my rating and believe it reflects my continued campaign promises to work for less government, lower taxes, and more freedoms for Idaho citizens, families and businesses,” Scott wrote in an email to the Daily Bee.

The most conservative state senator in Idaho lives in Dalton Gardens, Sen. Steve Vick in District 2 was the highest scoring senator in the American Conservative Union’s ranking of Idaho lawmakers’ voting records during the 2017 legislative session.

“Grades came out this week; 100%. Woohoo! The only one in the Senate. Still working hard to preserve freedom,” Vick, a Republican, tweeted Thursday morning.

Vick and just one other member of the Idaho Senate, Sen. Dan Foreman of Moscow, received scores high enough — 90 percent or greater — to receive the ACU’s “award for conservative excellence.”

In the House, also make the “conservative excellence” list from the area was Rep. Ron Mendive, a Coeur d’Alene Republican in District 3, who scored 94 percent.

Kootenai County Republican legislators scoring 80 to 89 percent are Sen. Bob Nonini, Rep. Vito Barbieri and Rep. Don Cheatham. Other regional state lawmakers’ scores include Sen. Mary Souza, 75 percent; Rep. Paul Amador, 50 percent; Rep. Eric Redman, 47 percent; and Rep. Luke Malek, 33 percent.

The average score in the Idaho Senate is 61 percent. For Repub-lican senators the average is 66 percent and for Demo-crats it’s 38 percent. The average score in the House is 63 percent with Repub-licans scoring an average 68 percent while the average Demo-crat’s score is 31 percent.

Despite his low score this year, Malek’s lifetime average is 65 percent. But the Coeur d’Alene Repub-lican doesn’t pay much heed to the rankings.

Malek said he received the email notifying him the report was available, but he didn’t open it, and he doesn’t intend to.

He said he does not think a special interest group from out-of-state can appropriately gauge how effectively a legislator serves his state.

“My constituents know I’ve never been very obedient to special interests,” Malek said.

Staff writer Maureen Dolan contributed to this report.

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