It’s no secret that Rep. Mike Moyle, R-Star has the best interests of Idaho’s wealthiest residents in mind. His tax reform proposal, introduced in the early days of this session, would have passed along tax relief benefits to the rich while doing very little for average folks. But it doesn’t end there.
A few weeks ago it came to light that Moyle and Rep. Janet Trujillo, R-Idaho Falls, (you may remember that the two legislators married in December of last year) teamed up to pocket an extra $6,400 of taxpayer money. These two are blatantly using public office to line their own pockets, and they’re getting away with it.
Here’s a recap of the Moyle/Trujillo shenanigans:
Legislators who live outside of Ada County are entitled by law to receive $129 daily from the state while the Legislature is in session to provide for the costs of finding accommodations in the area. Moyle and Trujillo, who represent districts on opposite sides of the state, eloped just weeks before the session began. Moyle lives just 16 miles from the Capitol, and therefore receives only the $49 daily allowance for expenses during the session that is allowed for lawmakers who live in Ada County.
Since Moyle and Trujillo are now married, it seems reasonable to assume that Trujillo would have stayed at Moyle’s ranch during the session, and therefore not need $129 daily from the state in order to rent an apartment in Boise, right? Well, it turns out that Trujillo took her per diem anyway. Over the course of the 80-day legislative session that amounts to around $6,400.
Neither Trujillo nor Moyle have said whether or not Trujillo stayed at Moyle’s ranch during the session. However, as the Idaho Statesman has reported, “On March 18, a Saturday near the end of the session, Trujillo posted a picture on Facebook, with the status ‘feeling fantastic with Mike Moyle.’ The photo was apparently taken near Moyle’s ranch facing the sunrise over the Boise foothills. ‘Good morning from my little piece of heaven,’ she wrote.”
When a reporter at the Idaho Statesman asked Trujillo why she took the per diem when she clearly didn’t need it she said, “‘I’m not Rep. Moyle, and I don’t live 20 miles from the capitol. I serve Idaho Falls. I live in Idaho Falls. I take the per diem that is allowed for people who live outside (Ada County).”
You’ll be shocked, we’re sure, to hear that the House Republican leadership has no interest in investigating whether or not Moyle and Trujillo broke the rules and should be subject to discipline. House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, recently declared that the couple have “done nothing wrong.” Bedke’s refusal to hold Moyle and Trujillo accountable for fleecing the taxpayers of what, for most Idahoans, would be a significant amount of money is despicable, if not unsurprising.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time the issue of legislators abusing the living expenses per diem has come up in recent years. When Sens. John McGee, R-Caldwell, and Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa were both found to have taken the higher per diem under questionable circumstances in 2011, Moyle said, “I don’t think it smells good; I don’t think it looks good; and if it were one of my members, I would highly advise against it.” He should have taken his own advice.
Moyle and Trujillo have demonstrated that they think they’re above the rules. It seems that if Moyle can’t line his own pockets by cutting taxes for wealthy Idahoans like himself, he’ll just do it by conspiring with Trujillo to take a stipend they have absolutely no need of.
Moyle will get his, one way or another. And Idaho’s Republican leadership is letting him do it.