Perhaps Idaho politicians and government workers just shouldn't be allowed near the Internet.
Steve Rule, commissioner for Canyon County, was criticized earlier this month for forwarding an email message, comparing Michelle Obama to a black widow spider, to 26 people, many of them at Canyon County government email accounts. To add insult to injury, while he had received the original email at a personal account, he forwarded it from his official Canyon County email address.
Making matters worse, Rule apparently didn't violate any laws in doing so, according to the Idaho Statesman. "Canyon County has an e-mail policy that states county e-mail accounts "are to be used for job-related communications only," but that policy applies only to county employees, not to elected officials, county spokeswoman Angie Sillonis said. Commissioners and other elected officials must abide by state code, but Sillonis said she could find no state law that prohibited an action such as the e-mail forwarded by Rule."
The message in question compared Michelle Obama, in her black-and-red dress at President-elect Barack Obama's acceptance speech, to a black widow spider, which features a red hourglass on its belly.
Sillonis relayed a message from Rule saying in the future he would not use a county computer to forward emails not directly related to county business.
In comparison, the head of the tourism agency for the state of Hawaii recently resigned after coming under similar criticism -- led by its governor -- for sending unspecified racist and sexist email messages from his government computer.
Rule was also nominated as a "worst person" by Keith Olbermann.
Canyon County is also the governmental entity that kept computer applications manager Marc Young on paid administrative leave for more than a year -- at a cost of more than $60,000 -- when he was accused of possessing child pornography on county computers. Young -- incidentally, the son of the county prosecutor at the time -- eventually pleaded guilty to one charge. The county also limited further paid leaves to up to 90 days.