Brandi Swindell stands among the symbolic crosses in a faux cemetery in Boise symbolizing abortions in America.
Even though I’ve moved away, I still like to keep tabs on what’s happening in my hometown of Boise, Idaho. Turns out that while I’ve been away, my favorite rising star of the American Taliban has settled on beginning a political career.

Brandi Swindell is running for City Council in Boise, Idaho. (Hat-tip to my anti-blogger, Adam’s Web).

Who’s Brandi Swindell? Well, the name caught my eye because it’s the same surname as one of my high school friends (they’re cousins, it turns out). Brandi has made a name for herself as the new face of young, pro-life, conservative womanhood, appearing in the “New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Newsweek, Time Magazine and the Los Angeles Times. Brandi has also appeared on the O’Reilly Factor, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC Network newscasts and the 700 Club.”, according to her website, (Not to be confused with, a parody site created by House Blender Wayne.) What motivates Brandi’s politics (emphasis mine)?

Why is Brandi Running?

If Brandi has the honor of serving the citizens of Boise she will work diligently toward:

  • Promoting economic growth without sacrificing quality of life.
  • Ensuring the voice of the people is heard on the City Council especially with issues such as annexation and voting on the public display of the Ten Commandments.
  • A strong commitment toward protecting the natural and scenic beauty of Boise.
  • Limited government and taxation.
  • Networking with Boise’s faith communities to build strong, healthy, safe and caring neighborhoods.
  • Working to protect our shared community values with efforts that would include no taxpayer funds for organizations that promote and provide abortions.

There is more than enough ammunition against Brandi in her politics for anyone who wants to assail her candidacy. She was one of the many babbling Biblical literalists who showed up in Florida this last March to protest the removal of Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube:

“A woman is being starved to death, and I have to do something,” said Brandi Swindell, 28, from Boise, Idaho. “There are just certain things that you have to do, that you have to try.”

And as she protested at Michael Schiavo’s house: “I really feel that Michael Schiavo is turning his back on his wife,” said protestor Brandi Swindell. “Men, and specifically husbands, are called to be providers and protectors of the women that are important in their life, and especially their wives. And so we [view] this as the ultimate form of domestic abuse.”

Brandi landed in Florida because she is the co-founder of Generation Life, a pro-life movement dedicated to inculcating the youngsters in anti-abortion and abstinence-only education.

Generation Life is a dynamic movement of young people who are building a culture of life by spreading the intertwined pro-life and chastity messages to their peers.

This movement consists of virgins and renewed virgins who are challenging and empowering other middle school students, high school students, college students, and young adults to be effective defenders of the sanctity of human sexuality and human life.

This movement is for youth, for life, for leaders… this movement is for you!

Brandi made headlines in 2002 when she labored to force the Red Cross to stop distributing condoms to the world’s athletes at the Olympic village in Salt Lake City.

“I thought it was absolutely appalling that the Salt Lake Organizing committee, in the name of public safety, would push condoms on the athletes,” said 25-year-old Brandi Swindell, leader of Generation Life, a Boise, Idaho-based pro-life group.

“We all know that condoms are not safe. We have had the safe sex campaign for the past 25 years and what is the result?” she asked. “This is very, very serious; the International Olympic Committee is playing Russian roulette with people’s lives,” Swindell noted.

“Recreational sex is not an Olympic sport,” Swindell said emphatically. “We just think these athletes have a once in a lifetime chance to showcase their talents. There is no reason that the IOC needs to go out and get condoms for them. The Olympics are not some type of frat party with condoms being passed around.”

Regarding the 12,000 condoms donated by Cardinal Health, committee spokeswoman Vania Grandi said the condoms will be available for free inside clinics at the 10 competition sites and the athletes’ village, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

“We’re not distributing them,” she said. “They’re available like aspirin, Tylenol and bandages. It’s good public health policy.”

And as a member of the Keep The Commandments Coalition, Brandi has been very visible in a Boise case where a longstanding Ten Commandments monument was removed by the City Council from a public park.

Brandi Swindell, director of the Keep the Commandments Coalition of Idaho, said Boise should immediately restore the monument to the city’s Julia Davis Park because, in her view, it is now clearly constitutional.

But Mayor David Bieter said in a telephone interview that it would be safer to leave the monument on private property, in front of the Episcopal church where it has rested for the past year.

The mayor, a lawyer, said Boise’s display had been practically alone in the park. “A single monument where it was — I think we’d have a tough time arguing that was in line with today’s decision,” he said.

By all accounts, the Boise monument went virtually unnoticed for decades until it came to the attention of the Rev. Fred Phelps [(a.k.a. “The Rotting Cryptkeeper™”)], a Kansas minister who travels the country inveighing against homosexuality. Phelps argued that if Boise allowed one religious display on its property, it must allow him to erect a monument declaring that Matthew Shepard, a gay man murdered in a hate crime in Wyoming 1998, is “burning in hell.”

Bieter said the City Council decided to move the monument so that it could reject Phelps’s application without risking a costly lawsuit. Eliot Mincberg, chief counsel for People for the American Way, which opposed the Ten Commandments displays in Texas and Kentucky, said he did not believe that the Supreme Court’s decisions would support Phelps’s argument.

Brandi Swindell, co-chair of Boise’s Keep the Commandments Coalition, said the proximity of other monuments in Julia Davis Park — the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial and the Idaho Black History Museum — would make a Ten Commandments monument there

Of course, it all depends on what the definition of “proximity” is, considering that the locations she’s speaking of are at least 1000′ apart from each other. (See for yourself)

In addition to her sterling American Taliban credentials, Brandi brings her 28 years of existence and a fine public education as a Meridian (Idaho) High School graduate to the table, which makes her more than qualified to decide complex issues of municipal governance for a city of over 200,000, the largest city and capital of Idaho. But it seems that her opponent, Maryanne Jordan, has a problem with Brandi’s candidacy.

(The Idaho Statesman) Brandi Swindell, the up-and-coming leader on the national pro-life scene who gained prominence in Boise for her recent battles over the city’s Ten Commandments monument, filed Thursday to run for Boise City Council.

Swindell, 28, will run against Council President Maryanne Jordan, she said, because Jordan voted to remove the monument from Julia Davis Park. But Swindell also said she is interested in a variety of city issues beyond the Ten Commandments.

“This is not a referendum about the Ten Commandments,” said Swindell, who was one of 13 protesters arrested when the monument was removed and placed at a church in downtown Boise.

“It’s interesting that a person who doesn’t have time to do community service would have the time to run or serve on the City Council,” Jordan said after hearing of Swindell’s announcement.

Swindell, convicted of obstructing and delaying a police officer during the March 2004 monument-removal protest, recently asked a judge to change her sentence from 25 hours of community service to a $100 fine “due to the extraordinary hardship that community service would place on (Swindell’s) ability to actively pursue her life’s work,” according to her lawyer. The judge has not decided whether to amend her sentence, she said.

So what does that mean, Brandi’s time performing service to her community as ordered by a judge in a court of law is only worth $4 an hour? I wonder if she’d ever take a job that pays $4 an hour? Or does that mean that only heathens not called to do the Lord’s work are the only ones who should have to serve their sentences for breaking the law?

But Brandi, she’s a fine girl, what a good GOP candidate she will be:

(The Idaho Statesman) Parting with a long tradition, the Idaho Republican Party is formally involved in a nonpartisan election, backing 28-year-old religious activist Brandi Swindell over Boise City Council President Maryanne Jordan.

The state GOP is supplying meeting space and soliciting volunteers for Swindell, a foe of abortion and the relocation of the Ten Commandments monument from Julia Davis Park to St. Michael’s Cathedral.

The GOP foray into non-partisan politics could make the telegenic Swindell — who’s been arrested five times for civil disobedience — into a star with prospects for higher office.

City elections are nonpartisan for a reason: land use, planning, parks and public safety call for common-sense problem solving, not ideology. That’s why thoughtful Republicans are uncomfortable with the GOP role in Swindell’s race.

Councilman Vern Bisterfeldt, a life-long Republican, declined comment on the state party’s tactics but said he’s supporting Jordan.

Councilman Jerome Mapp and his challenger, Jim Tibbs, both independents, said they would reject partisan aid because injecting party politics into city business would compromise their job performance.

There is so much to oppose about Brandi — her infusion of her personal religion into politics, her stance against women’s right to choose, her ridiculous notion of protecting youth from sexual risk with “just say no” platitudes, her position against embryonic stem cell research, her lack of experience, her lack of college education, her support of meddling with private family matters in the Schiavo case — that there was no need for Statesman colunist Dan Popkey to inject Brandi’s model-hot looks into the discussion.

Swindell graduated from Meridian High School but has no college degree. Image is everything. Good looks got her TV time on O’Reilly; she made headlines protesting condom handouts at the Salt Lake Olympics; her rap sheet includes protests over abortion, the Ten Commandments and stem-cell research.

For all the help she’s getting, Swindell is highlighting her shortcoming, inexperience. Take a look at her glamour shots on her Web site. Or read her blog on her “AMAZING!!” discussions on how to “fix the roads” — a job, I suspect, she doesn’t know belongs to the highway district not the city. Swindell looks like she’s auditioning for “America’s Next Hot Model,” not a seat on a council that stays up past midnight deciding dicey land-use disputes.

Swindell (real first name Melissa) isn’t grown up enough for this job. If voters want to revive RiverFest and make Brandi Permanent Princess, she’s your gal. If they want a seasoned hand for the gruelling job of running a city, Jordan’s the pick.

There was some grumbling in Boise about the sexism in Popkey’s article. One reader said “As a woman, I agree with every word Dan Popkey wrote about Brandi Swindell. If she chooses to get into the political fray, she will have to get tougher. A secure, mature woman would not be whining about comments regarding her looks.” Another reader agreed, writing, “I suggest if Swindell wants to be taken seriously as a public servant, she ditch the heavy makeup, fake tan and tight jeans.” Another said, “Obviously she is trading on the fact that she is cute, because she has no other qualifications.”

Yet some disagreed, including one person writing, “His article conveyed the prejudiced message that if a woman is attractive she must be stupid and incompetent.” Still, even though he attacked her looks, the case he made was that she was inexperienced and unqualified AND trading on her looks, as expressed by a reader who wrote, “It is unfair to judge Brandi Swindell based on her looks. However, it is fair to be disqualified on the mere fact she has no experience or any apparent urge in to serve the whole city of Boise — including, for example, those who don’t go to her church, those who have partners of the same gender, and those (deep breath) who have had abortions — and don’t feel bad about it.”

Brandi’s campaign demanded an apology and Popkey was forced to issue that apology later for his sexist remarks.

My apologies to Brandi Swindell and readers who perceived my Oct. 16 column as sexist. I overdid it. Unlike Swindell, I’m not new at this; I should have known better. I also regret that for some readers my making fun of Swindell’s inexperience obscured the larger question: Why was the Idaho Republican Party taking the unprecedented step of letting her run a non-partisan campaign for City Council out of the state party office? Republican Chairman Kirk Sullivan got my point. Last week, he severed the ties between the state party and the Swindell campaign. That was the principal issue, not Swindell’s image.

Jordan questions the out-of-state nature of Swindell’s fundraising, noting that for a supposedly non-partisan race for a position that would focus narrowly on the problems of one mid-sized city in Idaho, she is sure gett
ing a lot of money from national pro-life groups.

(The Idaho Statesman) Swindell said that was expected because of her role as national director for the pro-life group Generation Life and her state lobbying efforts. She got $4,500 of her total $12,555 from out of state and an additional $3,496 from Idaho groups and individuals outside Boise. She also said future fund-raising reports would show a greater percentage of Boise donations.

“That’s not shocking,” she said. “I’m a national leader. I’m grateful for the support.”

But her opponent, incumbent Councilwoman Maryanne Jordan, had a different take.

“It is an insult to this community that out-of-state special-interest groups are using our City Council race to advance their own agendas,” said Jordan, who has received $500 from outside Idaho and $700 from outside Boise. Jordan has raised a total of $14,100.

Swindell received $1,000 from the Pro-Life PAC for Southeastern Pennsylvania.

PAC Director Mike McMonagle said that his group knows Swindell from her Generation Life work and that it wants to support her because she is an up-and-comer in the national pro-life movement.

“To put it in baseball terms, it’s like developing a farm system,” said McMonagle.

“It’s a stepping stone for bigger things.”

I’m sure the people of Boise will be happy to know that their city council is considered just part of a pro-life farm system that is a stepping stone to bigger things than managing the problems of the state’s capital city.

The election is tomorrow. I’ll let y’all know how it turns out.

Previous entries on Brandi Swindell:
Congress Announces Deal in Schiavo Case
SCOTUS Ten Commandments decision brings Boise into the spotlight