Printed on: October 04, 2012

Crossing the line

Boise Democrat Brian Cronin sees nothing wrong with collecting public and private paychecks in advancement of the same goal. We disagree.

Cronin, a state representative who serves as his party's caucus chairman, was a fierce legislative opponent of State Superintendent Tom Luna's Students Come First education reform package. Now, as he serves out his final term, Cronin has picked up a private sector gig as a paid consultant for the campaign working to overturn the Luna laws.

Cronin will leave the Legislature in three months. That means he has no conflict of interest concerns. Nor has he broken ethics laws. But by co-mingling his two paying jobs, Cronin has crossed that line separating private gain from public service. Beyond that, he may be costing his party the moral high ground.

For two years, Idaho Democrats have lambasted Republicans for their ethical failures: tax scofflaw Phil Hart serving on the committee that sets tax policy; Rep. Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, hijacking a bill that could have impacted a lawsuit he eventually filed against Bonneville County; Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's chief of staff leaving to lobby for, among others, the Corrections Corporation of America; and House Speaker Lawerence Denney directing a company to fire a lobbyist who opposed him politically and hire one of his cronies.

Clearly, Democrats want to be the party of ethics reform. Cronin's co-mingling of his public and private duties may be good for him personally, but it threatens to set back his party's efforts to enact reforms that are desperately needed and long overdue.

Corey Taule