Adam’s Blog

That’s my thing, keepin’ the faith, baby. –Joe Friday

Controversial Move: Bill Sali Didn’t Go to a Gun Show

Posted by Adam Graham on June 6, 2007

But he almost did. Dan Popkey writes an article on outgoing Bill Sali field director Gerry Sweet:

Congressman Bill Sali says the resignation of his top aide in Idaho, former state Sen. Gerry Sweet, is unrelated to Sweet’s moonlighting as a gun salesman.

I don’t buy it.

I’ve got unsubstantiated speculation to go on and I’m sticking by it.

But whatever happened between the longtime allies, Sweet’s departure is right for Sali.

Who says anything happened? Sweet left, not fired. He left, a lot of people leave (and the boss says he left on good terrms), but Popkey’s got a lot of suspicions and they center around a gun show Bill Sali ALMOST attended, but I get ahead of myself.

With a praising headline, in the small print, Popkey attacks Sali for hiring Sweet because we all knew that Sweet’s gun business took time away from official duties:

Sali knew the business conflicted with Sweet’s part-time duties in the Legislature. In 2006, Sweet missed votes on 63 of 200 budget bills in the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee.

And the Statesman Editorial board was well aware of this, but it didn’t stop them from endorsing Sweet for a 3rd term last November. But let’s not talk about that. On to the Gun show. Sweet scheduled Sali to appear for two hours at Expo Idaho, a big gun show where Sweet would also be selling. Wayne Hoffman thought it might raise a question of impropriety.

On April 13, Sali’s legislative director, Lisa Tanner, asked the House ethics committee for guidance. In an e-mail to attorney John Sassaman, she explained Sali would “meet and greet” while Sweet sold guns on his own time.

Sassaman replied that “the mere fact” Sali attended the show wouldn’t constitute a commercial endorsement of Sweet. Sassaman also wrote, “His business is an outside activity, and there should be an ethics ‘wall’ between this activity and his position as the district director.”

Tanner’s e-mail omitted the key fact that Sweet scheduled his boss to attend. Knowing the whole story, Sali canceled. Four weeks later, Sweet announced his resignation, leaving his departure date open.

Coincidence? Popkey thinks not!

Sali’s backing out was criticized by some in his natural constituency. Sweet apparently complained to Ee-Da-How President Arnold Burr. Burr told me he talked to Sweet about Sali’s withdrawal. Burr called Hoffman a “jackass” who, he said, aimed to hurt Sweet.

So, we follow this whole story for I don’t know how many graphs and here’s the key news: Bill Sali was going to attend a gun show and didn’t. Gerry Sweet allegedly talked to someone who expressed his feelings about Wayne Hoffman. Get it?

Me neither. However, Julie at Red State Rebels is out to take her swipe at Sali and Sweet. She takes to calling Sweet someone who pimps guns as I’m sure she and the abortion pimps in the Democratic Party call all people who are just excercising their Constitutional Rights.

Anyway her reaction to Popkey is:

Yes, but knowing that it was Hoffman, not Sali himself, who called foul on the potential ethical lapse sheds some real light on Sali’s judgment.

Sali made a mistake hiring Sweet, whose 2006 gun show gigs caused him to miss about a third of his votes on the legislature’s powerful JFAC panel. Perhaps 1st District voters will soon realize that they, too, made a mistake in hiring this extremist, tone-deaf legislator.

So, all Congressmen who depend on staff should leave the premises immediately. I wonder how long it would take for the building to empty. Really, any type of ethical question was kind of peripheral. This is a natural place for Sali to visit. It’s not like he’d be hawking guns for Sweet, but he chose to be cautious and be safe rather than sorry.

What Julie and the Dems would like you to focus on is insignificant fluff like this, not that Democrats have broken their promise on earmarks with more than 36,000 earmarks being proposed and hidden by the Democratic Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey.

Bill Sali said it best in the statement that Dan Popkey included with his article:

“Dan, the gun show is a non-issue — we routinely have discussions to make sure we are in compliance with ethics rules. We did that in this case as well. You should be applauding our due diligence instead of trying to create discord where none exists. My staff and I made sure I could attend the gun show without creating any ethical issues. Our lawyer confirmed it, but I nonetheless decided not to go to because I wanted to avoid any appearance of impropriety. Your desire to attack me for exercising that level of diligence is very discouraging.

“Gerry Sweet leaves my office on good terms, as a friend and political ally. He helped my office accomplish a great deal over the last five months. We have successfully protected access to public lands and have helped obtain federal aid for our timber-dependent communities. We worked to secure substantial funding for state water projects. We’re working on legislation to secure our borders, help Idaho’s high-tech industry through patent reform and bring long overdue change to the way Congress works. My office’s caseworkers have helped countless Idahoans resolve the problems they are having with the federal government. And frankly, Dan, we’ve done all of this with the utmost transparency and commitment to the highest ethical standards.”

And you just keep it up, Congressman.


2 Responses to “Controversial Move: Bill Sali Didn’t Go to a Gun Show”

  1. While I agree that a gun show would be a natural place for Rep. Sali to go, and I think he did the right thing, you surely have to admit that there’s most likely more to the story of why Sweet left his job than the Sali camp is letting out.

    I’d write him an E-mail asking him about it, but he doesn’t respond to me, apparently.

  2. Adam Graham [Member] said

    I honestly don’t think so. Running a government office is not a picnic if you’re used to the private sector in many ways. Just appears to be early burnout.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: