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No harm in a little legislative curiosity

Murf Raquet
February 1, 2013
Moscow-Pullman Daily News

The guy was just a looking to educate himself a bit about how laws are made in the state of Idaho.

So what if he was packing a gun on his hip - that's his legal right.

So what if he was sitting at legislators' desks sifting through papers and looking at trash in waste baskets. That, too, is his right.

So, really, what was it about Bryan Carter's tour of the Boise Statehouse that caused a number of lawmakers and state officials to become all atwitter?

For starters, they were quite concerned he was carrying a weapon.

The prospect of such an event didn't seem to strike officials as significant last year when security policies were put in place in answer to the occupy Boise movement - but there was no language prohibiting firearms from entering the Capitol. (Advocating such language would result in their tea party credentials being revoked.)

Carter, 47, was able to tour the building when he attached himself to a group of Scouts who were being guided by their representative.

The guide thought he was a parent and the Scout leaders believed him to be part of the Capitol security. After all, he was armed.

Carter also took photos with his cellphone of desks and papers.

This raised cries of rude behavior from officials.

"Most of us know not to take photographs of people's desks," said Senate Sergeant at Arms Sara Jane McDonald. "Our mothers would have clobbered us."

An informal poll of the Daily News editorial board found no such admonishment had ever been received by members.

Often the Capitol is referred to as the people's house. It is in that light that government transparency trumps desk privacy.

Lawmakers are doing the work of voters and should have nothing to hide. If they have personal papers, they shouldn't leave them out in the open - that's what briefcases are for. There's enough secrecy in the Statehouse with closed committee meetings and caucuses.

During the next few weeks, officials will reconsider some of the policies that led to the "tour" and the subsequent bluster of nonbelief at such a transgression.

Bottom line: Idaho State Police say no crime was committed.

But just to be on the safe side, the House and Senate chambers will be closed as tightly on nights and weekends as most of the leaderships' minds usually are.

Originally posted at

The editorial posted here is provided by permission of its original publisher and does not necessarily reflect the views of Idaho Public Television.

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