Nearing the close of the candidate deadline for this year's races, many political observers expressed surprise to see a locally infamous, yet politically unknown, name pop up as a candidate in the hope to challenge incumbent Raul Labrador for congress in Idaho's first congressional district. Cynthia Clinkingbeard is a doctor who lost her license to practice in Idaho in 2005, reportedly for mental health issues. Approximately a week after filing she was arrested on three counts of aggravated battery for brandishing a weapon at a Boise area Staples store. She was arraigned on the felony counts Monday with her attorney seeking to get her hospitalized.
Clinkingbeard’s attorney, Bret Shoufler, told the judge his client was likely in a “hypo-manic state” when she went into the store and felt that a better place for her would be in a secure medical setting, like a hospital, instead of a jail cell.
Fourth District Magistrate Michael Oths decided to set bond at $100,000, but also told Shoufler he would be willing to approve a furlough from the jail for Clinkingbeard when arrangements could be made for a secure room in a medical facility.
Her candidacy was/is dubious and filing for the position may have been one of the erratic events the College of Western Idaho cited as a reason to suspend her employment last week.
Dr. Clinkingbeard's arrest emphasizes the limited and shrinking resources available to the mentally ill in Idaho. Last year Idaho Republicans slashed Medicaid funding by over $100 million and at the cost of 4000 Idaho jobs. Moreover the cuts were pound foolish merely shifting the burden to other budgets like Corrections and the CAT Fund. This year, Chief Justice Burdick noted that since 2006 there has been a 151% increase in mental health court filings. Ignoring the warning signs of this growing problem will not make it go away.