Scott Herndon

Scott Herndon moved to Idaho in April 2004 from San Francisco, California, where he met his wife and was employed at UC Berkeley. He also previously worked at the Los Angeles County Office of Education. Originally from the East Coast, Herndon graduated from Arizona State University with a finance degree and worked in accounting and finance as a software engineer for ten years. The first house he ever built was his own home when he arrived in Idaho during his mid-30s. Thereafter, he began a homebuilding business and became involved as Bonner County jail chaplain and Republican Central Committee chair. He is seeking his second term.

Herndon is a member of the Idaho Freedom Caucus and maintains a high score with the Idaho Freedom Foundation. He has pushed legislation to dismantle Child Protective Services and supports taxpayer-funded vouchers for private school education. Herndon is a devout Christian Nationalist and abortion abolitionist. He wants to criminalize all abortions with zero exceptions, including when the mother’s life is at risk or in cases of rape and incest.

News Stories

Editorial • Bryan Clark, Idaho Statesman • 01/30/2023

Herndon casually invoking the possibility of armed, violent struggle against the government is the latest in a disturbing pattern of rhetoric and action on Idaho’s far right. From Ammon Bundy threatening to meet court officers with “friends and a shotgun” to a man at a Turning Points USA rally asking, “when do we get to use the guns?” to a vanload of white supremacists showing up at the Coeur d’Alene pride festival with evident bad intentions. Not that Herndon probably means what he said. There’s no evidence that Herndon actually wants to “have the real fight” — he just wants to be seen saying he’s ready for violence for the sake of securing votes in the closed primary, where he used extreme positions to oust the eminently reasonable veteran Sen. Jim Woodward. I’m aware of exactly one instance of Herndon “having the real fight.” But it wasn’t in the name of liberty. It was in 2012, when he shot his neighbor’s dog. In the back. While it was running away from him.

According to contemporary police reports from the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office, Herndon shot the pup because he was worried it would go after his chickens. The deputy noted the dog was about 80 feet from those chickens when Herndon pulled the trigger, and it hadn’t touched any of them. It turned and ran away when he yelled at it. And he shot the little black lab in the back as it fled. Is this the action of a bold revolutionary? A lover of freedom ready to pledge his life, fortune and sacred honor? Or just a kind of belligerent, cowardly person? The kind of person who invokes the idea of armed revolution when a committee chairman won’t hear a bill. The kind of guy who shoots a dog because it looked at his chicken coop. “I was hired by the voters in my district and so I work for my voters,” Herndon declared. Not if dogs could vote.

News • Bess Levin, Vanity Fair • 07/18/2022

Over the weekend, the Idaho Republican Party voted against adopting an amendment that would have added an exception to its official policy on abortion for cases to save the life of the mother. Scott Herndon, a Republican running unopposed for a state Senate seat, argued to delegates that “for the last 49 years we have essentially lost the argument in the culture because we have focused on abortion as the termination of a pregnancy and not the termination of a living human being.” He added: “We will never win this human rights issue, the greatest of our time, if we make allowances for the intentional killing of another human being.” Obviously, he did not note that withholding life-saving care from a pregnant person, knowing they could die, is also an intentional killing, because that would apparently require too much reflection on his part. The decision not to add an abortion exception to save the life of the mother was decided 412-164; as The Independent notes, the party platform “is used to direct policy within the state’s GOP-controlled legislature.”

urrently, Idaho’s “trigger” law, passed in 2020, outlaws abortions with exceptions for rape and incest, though only if the crimes are reported to law enforcement. (The Idaho GOP platform has no exceptions for rape or incest; a regional Planned Parenthood organization and an Idaho abortion provider have sued to block the law and a hearing is scheduled for August 3.) According to Newsweek, in a Facebook video after the Supreme Court struck down Roe, Herndon declared, “you don’t put to death the innocent child for the crime of its father, but that’s what this [trigger] law would allow.” He also claimed that such exceptions give women “a free pass,” and said that “if a mother really wants to kill her child, she could lie, say she was raped, file a police report, and go get her child killed in the state of Idaho and nobody would be prosecuted.” Because Herndon apparently wanted to make it abundantly clear that not only is he anti-abortion, he’s also a colossal asshole too. (On his website, Herndon says he “believes in preserving and protecting human life” and “has followed this in word and deed as an active Abortion Abolitionist and Pro-Gun advocate.” We’re going to guess that no, he doesn’t see the irony.)

News • Garnet Henderson, Rewire News Group • 12/11/2023

There was never an abortion clinic in Sandpoint, Idaho. But about a decade ago, locals in Sandpoint and surrounding towns started to notice the presence of one of the country’s most hardline anti-abortion groups. They showed up at the farmers’ market, Walmart, and local schools, carrying large signs with gruesome photos and approaching passersby—including children—to “preach the gospel.” One of the group’s leaders often brought his own kids.

That man assumed office as an Idaho state senator in December 2022. His name is Scott Herndon.

“All of us were surprised that he actually got elected,” one local resident told me. “It should never have happened.”

Herndon is far from the only extremist who has infiltrated Idaho politics. North Idaho, in particular, is a hotbed for the rise of Christian nationalism and overtly fascist ideology...

Herndon, the anti-abortion activist-turned-state senator who also has IFF ties, made waves several times during his first legislative session in 2023. In the course of debate surrounding Idaho’s first-of-its-kind “abortion trafficking” bill, for example—which made it a crime for a non-parent or guardian to help a minor get an abortion in Idaho—Herndon argued the bill should go further, criminalizing parents and guardians as well. (Enforcement of the law is currently blocked as a legal challenge proceeds.)

Herndon also unsuccessfully attempted to remove the rape and incest exceptions from Idaho’s criminal abortion ban. (These exceptions are already so narrow that the Department of Justice has argued they violate federal law.) Senate Minority Leader Melissa Wintrow pushed back, asking Herndon if hypothetically his bill would force a 13-year-old girl who had been raped by a family member to continue her pregnancy.

In response, Herndon referred to such a situation as an “opportunity.”

“I got shell shock, and that’s the only way I can describe it,” Wintrow said when I met her in Boise in late October. “Because it was so violent for a senator to say there should be no exceptions for rape or incest for an abortion.”

Most mainstream anti-abortion groups are careful to say they don’t support criminalizing pregnant people for seeking abortions. The model legislation they draft focuses on the actions of doctors instead. But Herndon was a leader of the North Idaho chapter of Abolish Human Abortion (AHA), one of a handful of groups on the anti-abortion movement’s fringe in which members identify as “abolitionists.”

News • Laura Guido, KTVB7 • 01/17/2023

Minority Leader Sen. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise, asked about situations in which teenage girls were raped by an uncle or father and if that girl would be forced to carry her pregnancy to term under Herndon’s proposed legislation.

Herndon replied, “some people could describe the situation that you’re talking about as the opportunity to have the child under those terrible circumstances, if the rape actually occurred.”

Currently, the abortion ban includes an affirmative defense for abortions performed in cases of rape and incest if a police report is filed, but Herndon said that is merely an allegation that a rape or incest took place....

The legislation Herndon did successfully introduce relating to abortion would add definitions of abortion and embryo or fetus. The proposal would amend the state’s trigger ban to say that embryo or fetus would, “mean any human in utero”—which Herndon said would clarify that the criminal penalties for performing an abortion do not apply to treatment for an ectopic pregnancy, which is when the fetus develops outside of the uterus. The bill would add the definition, “‘Abortion’ means the use or prescription of any instrument, medicine, drug, or other substance or device to intentionally kill a living embryo or fetus. ‘Abortion’ shall not include the unintentional death of any human embryo or fetus.”

He said adding that the embryo or fetus is “living” and clarified that there would be no prosecution if an abortion was done when the fetus had miscarried.

The proposed bill adds that any person who provides care to a pregnant woman to save her life that results in the accidental death or injury to the fetus will not be prosecuted under the ban. Previously this only applied to healthcare professionals, but Herndon said he wanted to expand it to include all first responders.

News • David Walters, Investigate West • 12/11/2023

In the months leading to the infamous 2017 Unite the Right tiki-torch rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, then-talk radio host Dave Reilly had some messaging-strategy tips for the attendees from the alt-right, the internet-savvy collection of racist and antisemitic groups that arose during the Trump era... He chided members for posting a Nazi meme publicly on Facebook where the left could use it against them. He advised alt-right gays to “stay in the f—ing closet.” He livestreamed a Charlottesville KKK rally a month before the event, and the top organizer of the upcoming alt-right rally shared it as motivation for his followers to recruit more attendees....Six years later, Reilly, now a political operative in Idaho, has landed a new messaging gig: helping to shape the communications strategy for the conservative Idaho Freedom Foundation, arguably the most powerful political activist group in the state.

But while few on the hard right in Idaho have been willing to publicly defend Reilly, few have been willing to explicitly condemn him either. InvestigateWest reached out to the 10 Idaho legislators most supported by the Freedom Foundation, and only one, Sen. Scott Herndon,responded — though he declined to comment on Reilly directly....
Sen. Herndon, the very highest-ranked senator on the Idaho Freedom Index, was the only one who responded. In his reply, Herndon was onlywilling to explicitly speak out against Fuentes, the alt-right figure who Reilly once said was “serving the will of God” and that “his enemies are now my enemies.” Herndon suggested that the same kinds of conservative, limited-government principles that resulted in his scoring so high in the Freedom Index compelled him to oppose Fuentes, whom he sees as holding something closer to radical leftist ideology.

“The rhetoric and movement he represents appear to promote government expansion, collectivist ideological principles, identity politics and even a socialist-style dictatorship,” Herndon said. “Those principles are flat-out anti-American.”

News • Ian Max Stevenson, Idaho Statesman • 11/15/2023

Sen. Scott Herndon, R-Sagle, also received a letter after he posted online criticisms of federal and state spending, saying that he thinks legislators do not sufficiently scrutinize the billions of dollars spent by the state every year. All three senators are members of the Idaho Freedom Caucus, a hard-line group of conservative lawmakers loosely tied to the House Freedom Caucus in Washington, D.C....

In late October, Herndon published a blog post on his website criticizing legislators who do not vote against any budget bills. Herndon — who is a member of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, the budget-setting legislative panel — wrote that none of the more than 200 budget bills voted on in the past two years were halted on the Senate floor and returned to a committee, noting that the senator he replaced, Jim Woodward, voted “yes” on the 110 budget bills last year, as did a large majority of his colleagues. In his letter, Winder asked Herndon to apologize to the other members of JFAC. “Although your fellow colleagues on JFAC have taken their duties seriously, you have not,” Winder wrote in his letter to Herndon. “When you start saying that you’re the only really good Republican on there that’s really looking at budgets and working hard, ... you’re attacking your colleagues,” Winder told the Statesman. “If you disparage them, then how are you going to get them to support you when you want to get anything else done?”

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