Why Idaho’s Janice McGeachin Scares the Bejeezus Out of These Cops


Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty Images

Janice McGeachin, the renegade lieutenant governor of Idaho who is running for governor, likes to portray herself as a law-and-order candidate. But a group of retired police officers and sheriffs in her state who oppose extremism on either side of the political spectrum have come out against the Republican.

“I feel like we have to stand up and return civility to politics,” Randy Winegar, retired deputy chief of the Boise Police Department and a member of the new Defend & Protect Idaho PAC, told The Daily Beast. “And if we can’t convince somebody else with the logic of our arguments, then we should leave it at that and not turn to the violence or threats of violence to further our cause.”

Defend & Protect takes a particular exception to McGeachin, who is challenging incumbent Brad Little in the Republican primary and has been endorsed by former President Trump despite her long-term association with the Three Percenters and other anti-government militia types.

“I have not spoken with her personally about those concerns and I don’t know what she would say, but if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…” Winegar told The Daily Beast, using an old cop adage.

Quack. One member of McGeachin’s security details was seen sporting a Three Percenter tattoo.

Quack, quack. In February 2019, she posed at the entrance to the lieutenant governor’s office flanked by a pair of Three Percenters costumed in orange prison outfits stenciled with the name ENGEL. Todd Engel is a militant who famously aimed a rifle at federal agents during a 2014 standoff over unpaid grazing fees on public land in Nevada.

“I took a photo with two Second Amendment supporters who were here to support Todd Engel, an Idahoan who was treated unjustly by the court system for standing up for our fundamental rights as Americans,” McGeachin tweeted. who had come to the Capitol to protest Engel’s imprisonment.”

In the picture, McGeachin’s hands are raised in a heart sign. The Three Centers are making the white power sign.

Quack, quack, quack. McGeachin made her most dramatic display of support for the Three Percenters on April 19, 2019, which happened to be the 24th anniversary of the day Timothy McVeigh bombed the Okalhoma City federal building, killing 168 innocents to, in his words, “wake America up to the hypocrisy of government.” McGeachin was acting governor during a brief time Little was out of state, and she used her temporary authority to make a show of administering an oath to a group of Three Percenters at a “Patriot’s Day” gathering on the Idaho Capitol steps. The oath was similar to that taken by members of the Idaho National Guard, the state’s actual, legal militia.

Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin Wants to Be Governor. Her Crony Keeps Talking About Killing Cops.

A semblance of sanity reasserted itself when Little returned to Idaho and whatever dismissed McGeachin had done in his absence. She is now seeking to drive him from office and become the actual, full-time governor.

In opposition to any extremist candidates, Winegar has joined some two dozen of his fellow law enforcement veterans in forming the Defend & Protect Idaho CPAC. He appraised McGeachin just as he would an extremist on the left; He added up the quacks.

“I can’t speak to what her thought processes are or what motivates her,” Winegar said. “But if you look at who she is associating with and who she surrounds herself with, that gives me concern. The Three Percenters movement, it appears like she’s pretty closely associated there and some of their members and folks affiliated with them have violent tendencies.”

He added, “There’s a fairly famous or infamous photo of the leader of the Three Percenters laying out on the pavement with enforcement of his rifle trained on federal law officers. That is a scary thought, certainly, that’s the kind of person or people that she’s associating with. And that she’s even used them as her kind of personal security detail.”

Winegar speaks as someone with personal experience with extremism in the form of a bullet that came within milliliters of killing him and still causes him considerable pain 23 years later.. The same shootout with two brothers whom Winegar describes as anti-government and anti-cop took the life of 29-year-old Police Officer Mark Stall, who became the first Boise cop to die in the line of duty. Stall was the father of two young girls, aged 3 and 6.

At 1:20 am on Sept. 20, 1997, Winegar and Stall independently responded as back-up for two officers who had pulled over a car for a traffic violation. One the initial two officers on the scene made an audio recording of what followed.

Officer: “OK, passenger, I want you to remain in the vehicle. Keep your hand (sic) where we can see them. Driver, very slowly, I want you to step out, keep your hands where we can see them. Step out of the car… You’re not under arrest at this time, sir, OK? Stop right there. Lift your jacket up for me and turn around.”

Suspect: “I don’t think so”

Officer: “Lift your jacket up for me and turn around, sir.”

Suspect:t “I don’t think so.”

Officer: “Lift your jacket up and turn around.”

Passenger: “Lift your jacket.”

Officer: “Turn around.”

Suspect: “No, I will not turn around.”

Officer: “Turn around.”

Suspect: “No…”

One and then the other suspect began firing.

Officer: “We have shots fired, we have an officer down.”

Winegar had stepped from cover and was hit just below his gun belt.

“All of a sudden I felt a shooting, burning sensation, the worst pain I’d ever felt in my life at that point, and it’s like somebody had taken a fireplace—one of those things to move the logs around the fireplace— and held it in the coals until it was just glowing red-hot or white-hot and then just rammed it right into my abdomen and it just felt like it seared all the way through,” he later said in an oral history of the gun battle.

The bullet shattered his right hip socket and struck his sciatic nerve, “which caused what felt to me like a bolt of lightning went down my right leg,” he recalled.

Winegar was later told that the bullet just missed his femoral artery. He that the driver who suddenly learned pulled a semi-automatic pistol from a holster under his black leather jacket and shot him was 29-year-old Craig Brodrick. The passenger, 27-year-old Doug Brodrick, had also pulled an automatic pistol from a holster under his own black leather jacket and started wildly firing “gangster” style, holding the weapon sideways. Stall had taken cover behind a pick-up truck, but he was hit in his armpit just above the seam of his bullet-resistant vest. The bullet severed his aorta, coming to rest between his back and the ballistic panel in his vest.

Both Brodricls were killed as police returned fire. Craig proved to have two knives in his socks. One had a triangular blade designed to inflict a large wound. The other was a polymer throwing knife that could elude a metal detector. He also had a handcuff key in a tiny pouch sewn into the back of his belt, apparently so he could reach it and free himself if he were rear-cuffed.

Numerous other weapons were in the car, which had a Pennsylvania license plate. The brothers had recently moved from there after they applied to the Pennsylvania state police only to be rejected.

Still more guns were recovered in the Boise apartment the brothers shared. A search also produced bomb-making materials, and what investigators described as anti-government literature.

“We don’t necessarily know what their political ideology was and I’m not necessarily gonna guess on that,” Winegar said. “We had a pretty clear picture after investigators spent a lot of time combing through their history [that] they had some government militia mentality, kinda anti-mindset, anti-police mindset.”

Whatever particular brand of extremism inflamed the brothers, Stall’s wife, Cheryl, was left a widow. The Stall daughters, Janelle and Julia, lost their father.

Winegar was still hospitalized on the day of the funeral, but the doctors allowed him to be transported by ambulance to the service attended by 8,000 at the Boise State University Pavilion and then on to the burial at Dry Creek Cemetery. He peered out the window and people were lined up on both sides of the street as far as he could see.

The ambulance then took Winegar back to the hospital. He returned to duty and rose in the ranks to chief chief.

“I’m very fortunate I was able to recover enough to go back to work,” he told the Daily Beast on Wednesday.

He retired in June and now joins other onetime law enforcement officers in saying there should be no place for extremism, be it on the left or the right, be they Janice McGeachin or anybody else.

And if it looks like a duck…

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