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McCann censured by Latah County GOP for her voting in Idaho House

MOSCOW — Republican Rep. Lori McCann, of Idaho’s 6th Legislative District, was reprimanded by her own party for the third time Tuesday night at the 1912 Center in Moscow.

The Latah County Republicans held a hearing during which they censured McCann over her voting record during this year’s Idaho Legislative session. After lengthy debate and eight separate votes, the chairperson of the hearing, Dan Schoenberg, said the central committee came to a conclusion around 11 p.m.

The Latah County Republican Central Committee, composed of 23 precinct officers voted in by the constituents in their precinct, began the hearing with objections to 13 of McCann’s votes this past session in the Idaho House.

The committee ultimately decided to censure McCann for five of the votes, including her decisions on HB 314, a library bill; HB 265, the drag show bill; HB 155, a vaccine prohibitions bill; HB 259, an absentee ballot bill; and HB 273, a property tax budget bill.

“By doing this (hearing), part of the hope is that we create an environment to come together and have a better understanding of some of the core issues that we find important,” Schoenberg said. “We’re looking for an outcome, something that’s good for the community, the state, our representatives and the party. One could look at this as a highly negative thing, and we hope it’s not.”

McCann had already received rebukes from the Nez Perce County Republicans in March and the Lewis County Republicans in April.

During Tuesday’s meeting, McCann said she appreciated Latah County for giving her the opportunity of a hearing.

“I appreciate Latah doing this the right way, and there’s a right way,” McCann said.

McCann’s district includes all Latah and Lewis counties, as well as part of Nez Perce County.

Registered Republicans who live in the 6th District were allowed to give testimony for or against McCann during the meeting, which drew about 90 people. Ten people testified against the resolution, in McCann’s favor, and nine people testified for the resolution, against McCann.

Many who testified in favor of McCann spoke to the Republican Party’s principles, as some said they have changed over the years. They also said those who disagree with McCann’s voting record may choose another representative to run against her at the end of her term.

Those who testified against McCann discussed the use of taxpayer money and public funds, as well as vaccines and the need to protect children from pornography and other matters.

But both sides questioned what it means to be a Republican.

Gabriel Rench, of Latah County, testified against McCann. He said Republicans have lost their way and don’t know what it means to be Republican or conservative anymore.

“Republicans are so used to the shackles we don’t even know what freedom and liberty look like anymore,” he said. “There’s inconsistencies across Republicans and I hope this process will bring back the Republican Party to its principles.”

He added the library bill and the drag show bill are getting at bigger things. Rench said that other states are dealing with worse books and “pornographic parades,” which are part of bigger issues that could be coming into Idaho.

Ben Beard, of Moscow, testified for McCann. He said he has been a lifelong Republican, and has been appalled and shocked by the Republican Party in the state of Idaho for 35 years.

“The Soviets had a central committee and the Communist Party in China had a central committee,” he said. “And (Republicans) do the exact same thing.”

The sentiment drew negative attention from the crowd, with one man yelling “Time’s up, time’s up!” But, they heard him out, some laughed and nodded at the end of his speech.

Beard said people can head to the polls and vote McCann out, but it isn’t the job of the Republican Party.

“To censure this woman, I’m sorry, this party is upside down,” he said. “This is not how other Republicans treat other Republicans.”

Schoenberg said the Republican Party’s rules state on the first violation there can be no penalties. The hearing is to present a document, and a conversation, on some of McCann’s voting patterns that conflict with the party’s principles.

McCann is still scheduled to return for the 2024 session. The actions taken so far have no effect on her status as a member of the Idaho House.

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