As far back as I can remember, transitions in the Idaho attorney general’s office have been rather seamless and nonpolitical. The manner in which I took over the office from David Leroy after the 1982 election is typical. I informed the entire staff that anyone who was doing a good job for the state would have a place in my office. And that is how it was with those who preceded me and those who followed.

In 1971, when Tony Park, a Democrat, replaced Bob Robson, a Republican, the transition was handled in that fashion. Tony often told staff members that he was the only politician in the office. Deputies were to concern themselves strictly with the law. Wayne Kidwell, a Republican who took over the office from Tony in 1975, gave the same message to staff. He retained Rudy Barchas as head of the consumer protection unit, even after Rudy volunteered that he’d voted for Tony in the election. Wayne wanted the best person for the job, not a political pal. And that’s how it should be.

Raul Labrador’s transition to the office has thus far been a startling break from the established tradition. Labrador announced early in his campaign against incumbent Lawrence Wasden that he intended to run a political office. His first two hires for top jobs in the office are right-wing zealots. This portends poorly for the rule of law in Idaho. Neither of them is licensed yet to practice law in Idaho. The tradition in Idaho has been to hire Idaho lawyers who are familiar with the legal lay of the land in the Gem State. And I can attest that Idaho lawyers are every bit as good as any from out of state.

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