Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin announces run for Governor

FILE — Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin walks down the front steps of the Idaho State Capitol building, with her husband Jim, prior to taking the podium to announce her run for Governor, Wednesday, May 19, 2021.

Throughout her term, Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin has shown herself to be fundamentally dishonest and reckless. She is plainly unqualified for the office she holds and certainly not fit for the highest office in the state, for which she is currently running.

The two latest in an endless litany of scandals fell on McGeachin in the last couple of weeks.

In a recent newsletter, McGeachin claimed that a study in the U.K. showed vaccinated people were more likely to die of COVID-19 than unvaccinated people.

Here’s how she got there: Her team looked at a table noting how many deaths in the study occurred in vaccinated and unvaccinated people and divided each figure by the total number of deaths. About 70% of the deaths were in vaccinated people, compared to 30% in unvaccinated people. So, she concluded, 70% of vaccinated people with COVID-19 will die.

This is the equivalent of correctly noting that about 70% of all criminal offenders are white and concluding that 70% of white people are criminals. It’s an obvious blunder.

About 90% of people over 16 in the U.K. are vaccinated. So the 10% of the population that is unvaccinated is contributing about 30% of the deaths, dying at three times the rate you would expect if the vaccine didn’t work. The data shows the exact opposite of what McGeachin says it does.

Blundering can be forgiven when it’s inconsequential. But telling people that the vaccine will kill them is the kind of falsehood that will continue our lurch toward rationing care as hospital ICUs are overwhelmed.

In this case, perhaps McGeachin wasn’t being dishonest. Maybe she and her team are simply incompetent.

But, unfortunately, we can’t conclude that she’s basically honest but a little confused. She showed herself to be thoroughly dishonest in a separate incident.

While leading a McCarthyite commission to investigate the teaching of Critical Race Theory in Idaho — which never turned up evidence of anything significant — McGeachin set up an online form for the public to make comments. A number of reporters requested to see that public comment, which is available under the Public Records Act. McGeachin refused to release those records, and the Idaho Press Club sued to force her to comply with the law.

McGeachin’s team tossed up bunches of exemptions it claimed prevented disclosure of public records, from exemptions for Fish and Game Commission records to the federal Freedom of Information Act. The judge found that not a single one applied — and many were nonsensical.

“The exemptions relied upon by (McGeachin) in partially denying the three requests for the Feedback Form were plainly inapplicable. The fact that (McGeachin) found counsel that was willing to advance frivolous arguments and positions does not make (McGeachin’s) reliance thereon reasonable. As demonstrated above, the exemptions cited in response to (one reporter’s) request were so irrelevant to the Feedback Form that it appeared (McGeachin) may have blindly selected them at random,” the judge wrote, ordering McGeachin to pay the Press Club’s attorney fees.

And the judge went further, finding McGeachin acted in deliberate bad faith.

“...(It) appears that to the Court that (McGeachin) would stop at nothing, no matter how misguided, to shield public records from the public. ... If public officials were required to disclose public records only to those, including the media, they believe will support the government’s actions, we will have shed the principles of our democracy and devolved into an autocratic state where criticism of public officials is not permitted,” the judge wrote, ordering McGeachin to pay an additional civil penalty.

Worst of all, there are not yet any indications that our would-be autocrat is complying with the court order — which specifically requires the records, which were already compiled to turn over to the judge, to be released without redaction. The judge filed the order on Aug. 26. The feedback form records, which were ordered to be released in full and were already compiled for the judge to review, still have not been released at time of writing.

McGeachin, Idaho Falls’ sole statewide officeholder, is a colossal embarrassment to her hometown. Let’s hope the rest of the state doesn’t think we’re all like her.

The Post Register’s editorial board consists of Publisher Travis Quast, Managing Editor Monte LaOrange and editorial writer Bryan Clark. Clark can be reached at 208-542-6751.

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