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Idaho's top 2 elected officials continue their political feud

When Gov. Little previously left the Gem State, Lt. Gov. McGeachin has taken advantage of her powers as "acting governor."

BOISE, Idaho — Rather than working as a coordinated duo or even being cordial colleagues, Idaho's top two elected officials are continuing an ongoing feud that the coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated.

On Friday morning, Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin released a statement claiming that Gov. Brad Little left the Gem State without notifying her, which violated Idaho law that makes the lieutenant governor the "acting governor" when the governor is out of state.

"Did the governor fail to notify my office because he didn't want me to use my position as acting governor to once again give the power and decision-making back to the people of Idaho?" McGeachin said her statement.

In a letter dated Oct. 29, Gov. Little wrote to Lt. Gov. McGeachin that the Idaho Attorney General's opinion stated that the governor not physically being in the state does not automatically invoke the Idaho Constitution to transfer powers to the lieutenant governor. 

The Idaho Attorney General's Office found Little's interpretation of the state constitution as "reasonable."

He added that his office would contact her if he is unable to do the duties as governor.

"Unless, and until, your office receives such notice, there is neither a need nor authorization for you to act in an acting Governor capacity," Little wrote.

The first-term Republican governor left the Gem State on Tuesday to attend an event for former President Donald Trump in Florida and returned to Idaho on Friday morning.

When Gov. Little previously left the Gem State, Lt. Gov. McGeachin has taken advantage of her powers as "acting governor."

This year, McGeachin has issued two executive orders while Little was out of state and she was "acting governor." In May, she issued an executive order that banned mask mandates in Idaho, which Little promptly repealed and said the order was "an irresponsible, self-serving political stunt." 

The exact same situation played out again in early October when Gov. Little traveled to the United States-Mexico border. As acting governor, McGeachin issued another executive order that banned Idaho schools and universities from requiring proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative test. She also contacted the Idaho National Guard about a possible deployment to the Mexico border.

Gov. Little, while still in Texas, again quickly repealed McGeachin's order.

"Attempting to deploy our National Guard for political grandstanding is an affront to the Idaho Constitution and insults the men and women who have dedicated their life to serving our state and the country," he said at the time.

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