Idaho governor candidate has ties to extremist groups

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Idaho Lt. Governor Janice McGeachin has affiliated herself with the Three Percenters militia during her time in office.

Idaho Lt. Governor Janice McGeachin announced on Wednesday that she will be seeking her party's nomination for governor in the upcoming 2022 election.

The office is currently held by Brad Little, who is also a Republican. Little has not yet indicated whether he intends to seek reelection.

In her 2018 election, McGeachin won her race with 59.7% of the vote. If she makes it through the May 2022 primary, she would be heavily favored to win in the general election in Republican-heavy Idaho.

In recent years, McGeachin has repeatedly affiliated herself with the extremist Three Percenters militia group, whose members were among those arrested for storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

In 2019, McGeachin posed for a photo with two members of the Three Percenters. McGeachin can be seen in the picture making a "heart" sign while both men hold up their hands to say "three," signifying their affiliation with the extremist group.

McGeachin defended the picture, arguing, "I took a photo with two Second Amendment supporters who were here to support Todd Engel, an Idahoan who was treated unjustly by the court system for standing up for our fundamental rights as Americans. They were part of a larger group who had come to the Capitol to protest Engel's imprisonment."

Engel was tried and convicted for being involved in a 2014 armed assault against federal law enforcement officers connected to the standoff at the Bundy ranch and the Bureau of Land Management. The conviction was later thrown out by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and a new trial has been ordered.

The case has become a rallying cry for militia groups who have come out in support of Engel.

McGeachin was criticized for the photo by the Anti-Defamation League, who said in a statement at the time, "We are deeply troubled by the recent photo posted by Idaho Lt. Governor Janice McGeachin posing with two anti-government extremists."

"For a prominent politician like Lt. Governor McGeachin to have relationship with these individuals is disturbing," the group added.

McGeachin eventually deleted the photo from her Facebook page.

That same year, McGeachin reportedly utilized a security detail who had an affiliation with the Three Percenters.

McGeachin spoke at a rally in August 2020 that featured "Real Three Percenters" leader Eric Parker. In his speech, Parker said ahead of the 2020 election that "the history of a peaceful transition of power in America is slowly going down the drain."

McGeachin has not had a good relationship with Idaho's current governor, who she criticized in 2020 for instituting a stay-at-home order during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. In May 2020, Little told reporters that it had been weeks since he had spoken to McGeachin.

McGeachin has accused Little of using his power to "harass and intimidate private business," and took part in a rally called "Disobey Idaho" outside the state Capitol building.

In August of 2020, McGeachin was part of a rally called "Freedom is the Cure" connected to the extremist John Birch Society. She advocated for school reopenings during the pandemic and asserted that "it is a privilege to attend public school in America." McGeachin also attacked officials for closing churches to stop the spread of the virus.

In October, McGeachin appeared in a web video toting a Bible and handgun to protest safety policies connected to the outbreak.

In November 2020, McGeachin proposed using millions in virus relief funds from the federal government for "walk-through disinfectant cubes" at the state Capitol. Just a few months before, the National Institutes of Health said such devices were ineffective and potentially dangerous.

Over 2,000 people in Idaho have died from COVID-19.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.