Clark Corbin

(Idaho Capital Sun) Senate President Pro Tem Chuck Winder has removed Sen. Glenneda Zuiderveld as the vice chair of the Senate House and Welfare Committee and reprimanded Sen. Scott Herndon over editorials those two senators wrote that were critical of other senators.

The fight between Winder, a Boise Republican who is the top ranking member of Senate leadership, and Zuiderveld and Herndon, came to light in a press release issued by the Idaho Freedom Caucus on Monday morning.

Zuiderveld, R-Twin Falls, and Herndon, R-Sagle, are both members of the Idaho Freedom Caucus.

On Nov. 6, Winder wrote separate letters to Zuiderveld and Herndon about the situation. In his letter to Zuiderveld, Winder wrote that she had written an article that “openly attacked the integrity of your fellow members of the Idaho Senate” and was “degrading and disrespectful” of Zuiderveld’s colleagues.

Winder then informed Zuiderveld that he was removing her from her position as vice chair of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. Zuiderveld will continue to serve as a regular member of that committee, but no longer hold the role of vice chair.

“As President Pro Tempore, I have a duty to protect the integrity of the legislative process and members of the Senate who are unfairly attacked by fellow members,” Winder wrote in the Nov. 6 letter, which the Idaho Freedom Caucus posted publicly on Monday.

Zuiderveld responded to Winder’s letter in a Substack message posted Monday and in the Idaho Freedom Caucus’s press release. Zuiderveld said the article Winder took issue with was likely her Oct 29 “David (People) vs. Goliath (IACI)” post on Substack. In the Oct. 29 post on Substack, Zuiderveld included an editorial cartoon representing Winder, Sen. Kevin Cook, R-Idaho Falls, and Rep. Stephanie Jo Mickelsen, R-Idaho Falls, carrying water for the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, or IACI.

Zuiderveld also wrote “it’s crucial to identify those who might further the interests of Global Corporations” and listed the name and photo of legislators and legislative candidates who have been endorsed by IACI.

In her response to Winder’s letter and sanctions, Zuiderveld wrote that removing her as the Senate Health and Welfare Committee’s vice chair will free her up to read more bills, research budget requests more thoroughly and focus on getting her own bills heard.

“Regardless of what actions the leadership takes, I do not work for them; I work for you, the people,” Zuiderveld wrote on Substack. “I will not allow intimidation to silence me.”

Efforts to reach Winder on Monday were unsuccessful. It was not immediately clear who Winder will name as the new vice chair of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.

Idaho Sen. Scott Herndon declines to apologize

On Nov. 6, Winder also wrote to Herdon, requesting that Herndon apologize and retract a post that Herndon wrote that was critical of the other nine senators serving on the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, which is often referred to as JFAC.

In an interview with the Idaho Capital Sun, Herndon said he believes Winder was referring to an Oct. 26 editorial in that Herndon wrote that said nine Republican senators voted yes for every budget bill in 2022.

“Certainly, every legislator ought to find at least one budget bill that they don’t like, and they should maybe vote NO on at least one of these bills?” Herndon wrote Oct. 26.

Herndon told the Sun and he won’t remove the editorial from his website and won’t apologize. Herndon also said that he believes Winder should apologize to him for writing in the Nov. 6 letter that “Although your fellow colleagues have taken their duties seriously, you have not.” In the letter, Winder wrote that Herndon “only worked on one small budget.”

Herndon responded by saying he had sponsored and worked on five budgets – Senate Bill 1115, Senate Bill 1131, Senate Bill 1139, Senate Bill 1164 and House Bill 306.

Herndon told the Sun posting his editorial is a free speech issue and he doesn’t view his job on JFAC to be rubber stamping the budgets. Instead, Herndon said his work on JFAC included him attending every meeting, asking questions in budget hearings, debating budgets before votes on the Idaho Senate floor and making substitute budget motions.

“In my opinion, better government comes from healthy debate and Sen. Winder is trying to quash debate,” Herndon told the Sun.

The 2024 legislative session is scheduled to begin Jan. 8 at the Idaho State Capitol in Boise.

Herndon said he doesn’t expect the disagreement between him and Winder will affect their ability to get work done when the legislative session convenes.

“I expect the Senate will continue to maintain a professional environment and that we will continue to work in a healthy, representative republic, and this is exactly what that looks like sometimes,” Herndon said.