A Hillary sized email scandal has shaken East Idaho to its core. The Maria Nate private email betrayal may have exposed a greater conspiracy that might just sink Raúl Labrador’s gubernatorial chances in East Idaho.
On May 10th a nasty attack mailer targeting Lt. Governor candidate Steve Yates was delivered to voter mailboxes. This mailer contained an image of a partially redacted email from Yates’ wife Diana that contained highly personal information. The mailer was sent by a PAC called “Idahoans Fighting Corruption”.
The image printed on the mailers came from a private email conversation between Diana Yates and her dear friend Sheila Olsen. The message was deeply personal and mentioned struggles in her family financial situation. Sheila Olsen was a longtime member of the Idaho Republican Women, Republican Precinct committeewoman for over 30 years and vice-chair and member of the Idaho Region VII Republican Party. She served in numerous prestigious positions within the state and remained active in politics until her passing in February of this year. Sheila was known to have treated the Yates like family.
How did this very private email end up in the hands of a special interest group and blasted across the state to publicly embarrass the Yates family? Maria Olsen Nate, wife of State Legislator Ron Nate took it from her mother’s computer and forwarded it without authorization to someone connected to Idahoans Fighting Corruption PAC.
The news of the email scandal broke quickly and include statements from Maria’s own brother that made it clear she dishonored her mother’s legacy. The Nates had a lot of explaining to do. Neal Larson covered this developing story the next day and spoke on the phone to Mike Duff of Idahoans Fighting Corruption and Maria.
Duff attempted to use the interview as a way to skewer Yates and Larson did a great job holding him accountable for his despicable mailer. Duff said of the email leak, “Dead people do not have an expectation of privacy and in America today, nobody has an expectation of privacy in their emails, just ask Hilary Clinton.”
Maria told Larson, “I disavow it, it’s not appropriate, and we should not campaign like this. If people want to be mad at me I will take 100% of the responsibility for this.” She went on further to say that this should not be a reflection of her husband’s campaign.
Larson held her accountable for her actions; “Maria, I know this is a horrible, horrible day for you, that all of this is happening, but I’m going to be really up front an honest with you… I don’t know if your explanation is adequate.”
Maria responded; “It was wrong, it was immature, it was a lack of judgment, it was a violation of her privacy… I don’t know what else you want me to say, it was wrong…” and “I’m in my own race with my husband and you get so wrapped up in the winning that you forget that these are people.”
Maria Nate is not being transparent about a massive violation of Sheila and Diana’s privacy or why she did this diabolical deed.
Who is Idahoans Fighting Corruption PAC?
According to the article in the Idaho Press-Tribune, Doyle Beck and Bryan Smith of Idaho Falls financed Idahoans Fighting Corruption. Smith donated $20,000 and BECCO Construction (A Doyle Beck Company) donated $1000. Bryan is a vice-chair of the Bonneville County County Republicans and Doyle is a district chairman.
Why would key members of Bonneville County Republicans spend this kind of money attacking former Idaho GOP Chair Steve Yates? In 2016 Beck secretly recorded Yates and accused him of running a secret society to overthrow his grip on local politics. It looks like this whole thing is a very expensive grudge match designed to hurt Yates.
It gets worse. According to Maria, the email was forwarded in late 2016. The same year her husband Ron received around $7,000 combined from Smith, Beck, related businesses and family. Some of that money had to be returned due to questionable contributions that were concealed as reported by the Post Register. The next year they received a collective $4,000 from Smith, family and related businesses. Beck donated $1,000 to Nate in 2018.
Did Maria violate her mother’s privacy, destroy her family relationships and possibly ruin her husband’s career just to keep campaign funding rolling in? This is a question she has yet to answer. In fact, there are a lot of questions she needs to answer…
Maria Nate Needs to Come Clean
There is a big problem with Maria Nate’s apology. You see Maria is Ron Nate’s campaign. They write articles in the Post Register together. Every comment, post, like and share is done by her and her group of friends she activates to boost social media engagement. Just about everyone in Madison County knows that Maria is their unelected representative. Saying her actions are not a reflection of her husband’s campaign is highly disingenuous.
Maria claims her husband had no knowledge of this, yet the Post Register reported that the image used in the mailer came from a BYUI photographer who accompanied Nate and Yates to the Republican National Convention in 2016.
Maria has been asked multiple times to whom she sent the email and she refused to answer on air. Her lack of transparency discredits her “apology”.
While Maria was digging through her mother’s personal correspondence, did she find and forward any other emails from people who were not politically aligned with her husband Ron?
On April 26, during a forum in Rexburg, Ron said, “If anyone has disagreements with how I voted on certain things, they’re having disagreements with the principles of the constitutionality, fiscal responsibility, and moral soundness.” It’s clear that anyone who does not agree with Ron 100% is likely a political foe and one for whom Maria may love to gain more intelligence. This all makes more sense when you see the pattern of privacy violations by this entire group.
Nate secretly recorded a telephone conversation with Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill shortly after the 2016 primary where Hill donated $1,000 to his opponent in a race Nate narrowly won by 167 votes. When confronted about releasing the recording, Nate argued that it would violate his own right to privacy.
[see update below]
Mike Duff who is connected to this group through donations made it clear he has no respect for privacy with his brutal statement about dead people not having a right to privacy.
If that were not enough, Maria went on to blame Idahoans Fighting Corruption for violating her privacy by publishing the email she forwarded without her permission.
The message is clear. Your privacy does not matter if it is politically expedient to gain intelligence on your opponent or embarrass them publicly. This may as well be added to the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee platform.
Bonneville County’s House of Cards
We believe the Nates are part of a larger network of precinct officers, county party vice-chairs and closely connected supporters who rally behind a singular mindset designed to get certain candidates elected. Finance reports show that money is distributed to those that align with their groupthink and it looks like the machine kicks in to manufacture influence on social media to do everything to promote these candidates. We all see these posts on Facebook supporting the same group: Tony Potts, Jeff Thompson, Elaine King, Ron Nate, Julianne Young, Janice McGeachin, and of course Raúl Labrador.
Labrador is very closely aligned with this group – Smith and Beck have donated very large amounts of money to his campaigns personally over the years.
The mailer sent by what looks to be a hypocritically named PAC has created a public backlash that may topple the group’s entire house of cards. It may be too late for Raúl Labrador and the entire East Idaho conservative crew to escape the wave of voter anger triggered by Maria Nate’s unauthorized email.
This editorial was written by Gregory Graf.
UPDATE 12/29/2018: As part of an offer to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Mr. Beck I apologized to him for writing something that may have been seen as hurtful. It was my opinion that by secretly recording Mr. Yates, his privacy had been breached in a general sense and not an implication of any criminal activity at all. This was written in an article clearly marked and categorized as an editorial discussing public figures. I removed the reference to Mr. Beck from this article at his request. The lawsuit continued on after it was reported in the Post Register that the case was being dismissed. A notice of dismissal was filed on 12/12/18. (CV-2018-2958 | Doyle H Beck vs. Unknown Does 1-5, inclusive, Gregory Graf)
All views expressed in the article are an opinion by the author and do not represent the opinions of any other entity whatsoever which may have been or will be affiliated with the author.