Idaho lawmaker under fire for comparing state coronavirus response to Nazi Germany

"The nonessential worker got put on a train," state Rep. Heather Scott said on a podcast episode last week.

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By Ben Kesslen

An Idaho state legislator is being criticized for “extreme ignorance” after making comments last week comparing the governor’s nonessential worker classification to policies in Nazi Germany.

State Rep. Heather Scott, a Republican who represents parts of Northern Idaho, spoke about Gov. Brad Little’s stay-at-home orders in an episode of the “The Jess Fields Show” podcast on Thursday, saying the governor's classification of some workers as essential and others nonessential was “illegal.”

“I mean that’s no different than Nazi Germany,” Scott said of the orders, “where you had government telling people, ‘you are an essential worker or a nonessential worker.’”

Idaho Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, speaks at a legislature session at the state Capitol in Boise in 2015.Otto Kitsinger / AP file

Scott then compared workers asked to stay-at-home to prevent the spread of coronavirus to victims of the Nazis brought to concentration camps, saying “the nonessential worker got put on a train” and that residents are calling the Republican governor “Little Hitler.”

NBC News could not immediately reach Scott or Little on Monday morning, but Scott defended her remarks and criticized the reporting on her comments by The Spokesman-Review, a newspaper in Washington state.

“Spokesman Review hit piece on me is coming soon,” Scott wrote on Facebook. “My recent analogies are poignant and relative to our times.”

The remarks were condemned by local groups in Scott's district.

“It makes my heart heavy to hear a comment from an elected official that shows such deep disregard and lack of respect for what the Jewish people experienced during the time of the Holocaust,” Brenda Hammond, president of the Bonner County Human Rights Task Force, said in an email to the Spokesman. “It also shows an extreme ignorance of history.”

The Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations, also in northern Idaho, said the remarks were “offensive and painful to our State and our Jewish community” to a local outlet.

“Governors of both parties have closed businesses and ordered people to stay home due to their first responsibility of public safety and the health and welfare of their citizens,” the task force said. “We have the highest praise for Gov. Brad Little. This has nothing to do with an ideology.”

Rabbi Tamar Malino in nearby Spokane told the Spokesman that “mass murder and genocide is not the same thing as deciding which businesses should essentially stay open and which should stay closed.”

In the hour-long podcast, Scott, who has previously defended white nationalists on Facebook, said the coronavirus pandemic is “not an emergency,” insisted businesses should remain open and emphasized her belief that the governor’s decision to close businesses is illegal.

“I’m not a lawyer, but I checked with a constitutional lawyer,” Scott said.