BOISE-- The Democratic incumbent in Idaho s 1st Congressional District race has launched a new campaign television commercial attacking his Republican challenger for a second time on the issue of immigration.
Rep. Walt Minnick enlists the help of a former U.S. Marshal in questioning Raul Labrador s immigration record.
Mike Johnson, who served as a marshal in Idaho in the 90s, is seen and heard in the ad saying illegal immigration is tearing our country apart...that s why the truth about Raul Labrador s record matters.
Claims about immigration web site
The ad repeats an earlier Minnick claim that a Labrador-owned web site offers advice to illegal immigrants seeking amnesty.
I do not support amnesty for illegal aliens, Labrador said during a May primary appearance and repeated in September. That's why I have always advocated that those here illegally must return to their home countries and apply to re-enter per the laws of the United States of America.
The web site, RapidImmigration.com, which Labrador sold in 2008, stated as its mission to help people navigate U.S. immigration law to enter the country legally.
The present tense wording in the new Minnick ad implies that Labrador still runs the web site. But Minnick campaign manager John Foster says he does not see the statement as misleading because the pages Labrador owned and operated are still live and have never been discontinued or taken down. Simple web searches lead people to pages from within the old RapidImmigration.com site from when Labrador owned it.
Labrador disagrees with the notion that his former site offered amnesty advice.
No one calls this amnesty except for the Minnick campaign, Labrador said Thursday. All [the site] did was explain the law, the steps you take if you want to stay here or become legal.
Labrador pointed out that U.S. immigration law cited online is the same language that every congressman, including Minnick, would give anyone who sought immigration information.
Truth about the record?
Foster was asked what Johnson meant when he referred to the truth about Labrador s record in the commercial?
Mike reviewed a two-inch stack of court documents and materials from Idaho courts, U.S. Courts and the U.S. Justice Department, Foster said, which he claims shows, among other things, Labrador helping an illegal immigrant escape to Mexico to avoid drug charges here.
Labrador's background and work, along with his past statements, are inconsistent with what he says he believes, Foster says.
Labrador has not yet responded to specific cases cited by Foster, but in a September rebuttal he said that his job as an immigration lawyer is to walk people through the legal immigration system and that in about 90% of cases when someone is here illegally, they have to go back to their home country to return legally.
Who is Mike Johnson?
Johnson, who was politically appointed to the U.S. Marshals Service Boise office from 1990-1994, concludes his narration of the Minnick ad by saying that Labrador is wrong for Idaho. But the Labrador campaign says Johnson is not qualified to make such claims.
What was surprising to me is that I've never met this man before, Labrador said Wednesday night. What's ironic is that I was in law school and college when he was a U.S. Marshal, so I actually never even had the opportunity to work with him.
It really calls into question the credibility and judgment of Walt Minnick that he's using this kind of person to attack me on immigration, Labrador said.
The ad speaks for itself, Johnson said by phone Wednesday, adding that he was not paid for his appearance.
As someone who is undeniably an expert on law-enforcement issues, he reviewed Labrador's record and asked to help the campaign, Foster said.
But Jack Cluff, a former Deputy Marshal who worked with Johnson calls him an embarrassment to law enforcement.
During Mike Johnson's 4+ years as a U.S. Marshal for the District of Idaho, he became one of the biggest embarrassments to this agency as well as to the other local, state and federal law enforcment [sic] agencies, Cluff wrote in an email to Labrador after seeing the ad on television.
I must tell you that Walt Minnick has made a big mistake by using...Johnson...what a slap in the face for Walt Minnick, the email said.
Cluff recalls being told to babysit Johnson during the 1992 siege at Ruby Ridge and that Johnson lost his credentials and didn't bother to report it until two days later.
That s not how Henry Hudson remembers it. Now a federal judge in Virginia, Hudson served as director of the Marshals Service during Johnson s tenure.
I never asked him or his subordinates to baby-sit Mike, Hudson said by phone Thursday. He was never asked to oversee Marshal Johnson.
Hudson also says that Johnson's credentials were lost, not stolen from his vehicle, and that he was not reprimanded because of it.
In a voicemail left Thursday, Cluff said he did not receive orders from Hudson to babysit Johnson at Ruby Ridge. He said those orders came from Duke Smith, who served as the Marshals Service associate director of operations duringthe Ruby Ridge standoff.
In a phone conversation with KTVB Thursday, Johnson was asked what qualifies him to speak about Labrador s immigration record, but he declined to comment.
The Cluff statement
Labrador's communication director Phil Hardy said on Wednesday that KTVB could read for ourselves what Jack Cluff had said about Johnson. But the letter we received from Hardy was a much longer letter than the email obtained by KTVB directly from Cluff.
Hardy now admits that Cluff did not write the statement. Labrador's campaign did, but that Cluff approved it.