During that terrible winter of 1776, Thomas Paine wrote, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” These are the opening words of a text that I love. As these words were appropriate in 1776, they are doubly so today.
The founders fought, bled and died to bring us something so unique as the Constitution. It guaranteed freedom, provided that the people do not lose morality. For several months, I have been running down a story that gives Paine’s words new meaning. These are, again, the times that try men’s souls for many who govern us have become void of moral compass.
It all started when I saw a Facebook post that pictured 11 Idaho legislators and suggested that one had committed crimes against the Constitution. My search took me to the halls of the Idaho Legislature, to northern Idaho and finally back home to Pocatello.
My conclusion, after reviewing all the facts, is Rep. Kelley Packer, R-McCammon, should be removed from office and this column will hopefully convince you to support that cause.
In the interest of full disclosure, I unsuccessfully ran against Packer in the last GOP primary.
Let’s begin this story with the Idaho House Health and Welfare Committee, chaired by Rep. Fred Wood, a medical doctor from Burley, and co-chaired by Packer, a medical office manager. During the last legislative session, this committee set out to aggressively pass HB 181, a naturopathic licensing bill.
The most diabolical part of this legislation is that it threatened to invalidate naturopathic physician credentials if they were not earned at one of a few select universities.Dr. Jason West of Pocatello and his clinic were threatened. West began a spirited effort to stop the bill and traveled to Boise to do so.
Under Idaho code, credentialed naturopaths and chiropractors both have the privilege of prescribing a broad variety of naturopathic medicines in virtually any form. In West’s case, he is credentialed as both.
The chiropractic code that West operates under is known as Rule 20.
This story is a little bit complicated so I will chronologically cover the relevant events and attempt to connect the dots as I go. Stay with me.
March 9, 2015: Kay Christensen, with the Office of the Idaho Attorney General, released an opinion letter pertaining to HB 181 which stated that the bill would deny licensure to many “who have been lawfully practicing as doctors of naturopathy for many years.”
This letter made it clear that many health care providers would lose their livelihoods and many Idahoans would lose their health care providers if HB 181 is passed. Even so, Wood and Packer pressed forward with the bill, despite the potential for devastating losses.
March 10, 2015: Packer emailed West. She stated that if HB 181 passed, “Your business practices DO NOT need to change.” She went on to assure him that he could still practice normally under Rule 20 regardless of HB 181’s fate.
As you continue reading, you will see that Packer made promises that were in direct opposition to activities already under way in a committee that she co-chaired. She must have known that Rule 20 was under attack. While she boldly assured West that he would be protected under Rule 20, she worked to gut the chiropractic code of that very rule. In my opinion, Packer had her eye on virtually eliminating naturopathic care in Idaho, regardless of how that would impact West, his clinic, naturopaths across the state and all who seek health care.
In March 2015, Packer wrote the following email about West that I uncovered via a Freedom of Information Act request: “Jason is wrong and is stirring up trouble where it doesn’t need to be. I am very frustrated with how he is handling this circumstance.” She also wrote about West’s vehement opposition to HB 181, “Again, inaccurate, but I’m starting to believe he’ll say and do anything to have things 100 percent his way…and it doesn’t, nor will it, work that way.”
March 15, 2015: Packer emailed West. She stated, “Because of frustrations, there have been two bills drafted; one to repeal Chapter 51 and 1 to reject a rule in the current chiropractic rules. We don’t want that to happen.” The rule being targeted for rejection was Rule 20 (the regulation that enabled West to operate a business and the regulation Packer had said would be protected).It’s clear to me that Packer, despite her pretenses, was frustrated with West’s refusal to halt his opposition to HB 181. She made known her willingness to strip him of all credentials. It is also interesting to note that, the House Health and Welfare Committee was taking action to remove rule 20 even as Packer made assurances otherwise. In my opinion, this is the first hint of a retaliatory threat against him that was yet to come.
March 16, 2015: The Office of the Idaho Attorney General responded to an interesting inquiry from Wood pertaining to the promulgation of Rule 20. The Attorney General stated, “From a legal perspective, the 2008 rule was duly promulgated.” This means Rule 20 was properly enacted. But this fact did not dissuade Wood or Packer. The two continued a full court press to regulate naturopathic care in Idaho out o business.
On that same day, West was waiting to testify before the Idaho Senate Health and Welfare Committee. Seated next to him was his lobbyist, Julie Hart with Westerberg & Associates. West claims that while he was waiting to testify, Packer sent his lobbyist a text message suggesting that if West testified before the Senate committee, action would be taken to reject Rule 20. West said that Hart responded to Packer that this seemed like retaliatory legislation, to which Packer allegedly responded: “The legislation is totally retaliatory.”
West said that he, at the urging of Hart, did stand and testify before the Senate Health and Welfare Committee where he stated, “We were told today by legislature that to stop opposing HB 181 or they’re going to go after Rule 20.” With his very testimony, West confirmed his belief that there had been a lawless and and reckless denial of his constitutionally guaranteed rights.
West, like every American, has the right of free speech and the right to go before our government for a redress of grievances as identified in the First Amendment. The Declaration of Independence defines unalienable rights which include property rights. Included in these property rights are our businesses and our credentials. We also have an unalienable right to earn a living. Yet, unconstitutional bloated government strips these rights simply because corruption can and corruption will.
March 18, 2015: Hart sent a text message to West regarding the threatening texts from Packer. Hart stated: “This is retaliation. It’s ridiculous. You need to talk to press about this.” Hart went on to provide West with the cell number of Kim Kruesi, a reporter with the Associated Press who covers Idaho politics. West said that a few days later, Hart later him to back off and not inform the press.
The March 18, 2015 minutes of the House Health and Welfare Committee, with Packer at the gavel, show that Wood “presented RS 23876, a proposed resolution that rejected a scope of practice rule of the State Board of Chiropractic Physicians” otherwise known as Rule 20. In short order, the committee approved the resolution to kill the Idaho code under which West and others are operating legal businesses.
In my opinion, with RS23876, Packer made good on her implied threat of March 15, simply because West exercised this Constitutional right to oppose legislation.
I have asked lobbyist Hart for the allegedly threatening text messages from Packer. She declined to give me the texts and added that she has “respect for Kelley Packer.” This is very troubling. In the days following March 18, 2015, Hart’s position went from outrage against, to respect for Kelley Packer. Ask yourself, how is this possible? What events occurred to cause such a shift in position and who benefited?
On or about May 27, 2015, I telephoned Rep. Packer to get her side of the story. In a voicemail, I told her that I was writing a column about her alleged Constitutional crime and I offered to include her comments. Packer did not respond. She could have, should have and she had a duty to respond to us, her constituents. Instead, she went for cover.
Thankfully, HB 181 was defeated in the Senate. Even so, Fred Wood is calling for special planning meetings now so that the assault may continue in the next session.
Although RS 23876 was approved by Wood and Packer’s committee it was not voted into law by the Legislature.
So, why is Packer attacking alternative health care? In my opinion, the answer becomes clear when you look at the bigger picture. The federal government wants dictatorial control of your health care decisions, hence, Obamacare. Packer wants dictatorial control over your health care decisions, hence, our state’s version of Obamacare known as the Idaho Health Care Exchange which she fought so hard to establish in defiance of the U.S. and Idaho Constitutions. Also, remember that Packer does and Wood did work in traditional medicine when not in session with the Idaho Legislature. In the view of the political elite, alternative health care is the redheaded step child of establishment medical treatment and thus, it must be destroyed.
In summary, HB 181 was illegal legislation from the beginning. It was shoved down our throats by Packer and others who have no understanding of the principles of liberty. We should ask ourselves this: was this effort fueled by the personal bias of some legislators who apparently reject alternative solutions?
In a land of liberty, all people must, according to the Declaration of Independence, be free to choose their own path, including and especially health care choices. These are our lives. These are our bodies. The choice must be ours as well. The Founders have been clear. The rightful role of government is to protect and preserve these liberties for the benefit of the people. Judging from her behavior, Packer has no use for the Founding Fathers.
It’s unthinkable that Packer would use her power to silence one of her constituents, but that’s what she did to West. One whom she is sworn to protect. One who has a constitutional right to be heard. One whom she has a constitutional duty to hear and represent.
Packer has a long standing strategy of refusing constituents who challenge her authority. Packer has, for nearly two years, refused to respond to my request for constitutional justification of many of her actions. She is regularly seen carrying water for the corrupted government elite in Boise. Seldom does she carry water here at home.
In my view, Packer has repeatedly and seriously violated our supreme law. And, if the law of the Constitution is supreme, then her crimes are high indeed!
Thomas Paine continues, “The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”
Per the Declaration of Independence, it is our right and our duty to throw off the tyrant. The question is are we summer soldiers and sunshine patriots? Or, are we something more? Will we be deserving of the love and thanks of man and woman?
I am calling for and coordinating immediate state-wide campaign for the permanent removal of Rep. Kelley Packer from all government service. If you are not a summer soldier, contact me now. Join your resolve with that of other Patriots. Together, standing as one, we can end the dark season of tyranny and restore for ourselves and our posterity the blessings of a benevolent God.