BREAKING: Idaho Legislators Withdraw from Hazlitt Coalition

This morning, Sen. Chris Trakel posted an open letter on his Facebook page from sixteen Idaho lawmakers declaring their withdrawal from the Hazlitt Coalition, a network of state legislators sponsored by Young Americans for Liberty (YAL).

The letter explains that while the undersigned legislators still agree with YAL’s values, with the notable exception of marijuana legalization, they have lost confidence in the organization due to the way it has been conducting campaigns in Idaho. The Chronicle examined some of these campaigns in yesterday’s column.

The letter says:

We, as Legislators have clearly communicated with you the state-level dynamics and our strategy to further a strong liberty agenda including the candidates who are allies and those who work to undermine our cause. Your response has been disappointing with a centralized “we-know-better” approach. Subsequently, we have seen our allies attacked, while noting a lack of significant support for the existing liberty-oriented legislators. This type of command-and-control leadership that YAL is imposing on the State of Idaho is counterproductive to the work that the liberty-minded legislators listed in this letter are working to accomplish.

It concludes with:

At this point, we as liberty legislators are unsure of your agenda, and believe that creating this chaos and confusion for conservative voters is unproductive and damaging. The legislators listed in this letter are committed to fighting for liberty. We are disappointed that our voices didn’t carry the weight of a strong partnership that would continue to further the liberty movement in Idaho. We wish you the best.

The letter was signed by sixteen of the seventeen Idaho legislators listed on the YAL website:

Rep. Joe Alfieri
Sen. Carl Bjerke
Sen. Cindy Carlson
Rep. Jacyn Gallagher
Sen. Phil Hart
Rep. Dale Hawkins
Sen. Scott Herndon
Rep. Tina Lambert
Sen. Brian Lenney
Sen. Tammy Nichols
Rep. Elaine Price
Rep. Heather Scott
Rep. Josh Tanner
Sen. Ben Toews
Sen. Chris Trakel
Sen. Glenneda Zuiderveld

The one name missing from the list is Sen. Dan Foreman.

Young Americans for Liberty was founded in 2008 in the wake of Ron Paul’s presidential campaign. The organization supports generally libertarian ideas including free speech, gun rights, and rejecting Covid mandates and restrictions. Some in Idaho, notably former Idaho GOP chair Trent Clark, have criticized YAL for supporting drug legalization, however the Hazlitt members from Idaho have all rejected that platform.

YAL created the Hazlitt Policy Center in 2019, named after libertarian journalist and author Henry Hazlitt. By 2024 it boasted that more than 300 legislators were part of the Hazlitt Coalition.

Hazlitt Coalition members in 2022. Source: YAL website.

In December 2022, several newly-elected legislators joined returning veterans at a Hazlitt Coalition summit in Orlando, Florida, building networks in anticipation of the upcoming legislative session. It appears that the seventeen Idaho legislators officially joined Hazlitt at this time. According to the Wayback Machine, Hazlitt members from Idaho prior to the November 2022 election were Reps. Priscilla Giddings, Dorothy Moon, Ron Nate, Karey Hanks, Tammy Nichols, Chad Christensen, and Sen. Christy Zito.

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