congresswoman dies in Nevada
By Brendan Riley October 2, 2006 AP
Carson City, Nevada - Helen Chenoweth-Hage, a
conservative firebrand who served three terms
as an Idaho congresswoman, was killed Monday
when thrown from a car that overturned on an
isolated central Nevada highway. 6
US Representative Helen Chenoweth
A daughter, Meg Chenoweth Keenan, said her
mother was a passenger in the SUV-type vehicle
that flipped just before noon Monday on State
Route 376, the main route between her Pine Creek
Ranch, in Monitor Valley, and Tonopah.
The Nevada Highway Patrol said Chenoweth-Hage, 68,
was pronounced dead at the scene. Though other
family members were in the car -- including the
driver, daughter-in-law Yelena Hage, 24, and
5-month-old grandson-in-law Bryan Hage -- no one
else was seriously injured.
Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Rocky Gonzalez said
Chenoweth-Hage was holding the baby and wasn't
wearing a seatbelt. He added both Chenoweth-Hage
and the baby were thrown from the car but the
child "miraculously" had only minor injuries.
Gonzalez said the SUV, traveling toward Tonopah,
drifted off the road to the right, swerved back to
the left and then flipped as the driver
overcorrected in steering to the right in efforts
to stay on the road.
Chenoweth-Hage was killed four months after the
death of her husband, Nevada rancher Wayne Hage,
who battled the federal government for decades
over public lands and private property rights and
came to epitomize the Sagebrush Rebellion in the
West. Hage had been ill and died in his sleep at
A Republican, Chenoweth-Hage was elected to
Congress from Idaho in 1994 and served three
two-year terms. The outspoken advocate of smaller
government and property rights chose not to run in
U.S. Rep. C.L. "Butch" Otter, who replaced
Chenoweth, said he only ran in 2000 because she
opted to retire.
"What a tragedy," Otter said. "Helen was a person,
whether in her private life or in her public
service, was dedicated to principles of limited
government. In every sense of her being, she
fought for the maximum individual liberty -- and
the minimum in government."
"Helen was the most amazing, gracious person I
ever had the privilege to know," her daughter said
in a prepared statement. "She was fearless in
life, and I know she welcomes the opportunity to
be in the presence of God her father.
Born in Topeka, Kansas, Chenoweth-Hage grew up in
Grants Pass, Oregon, and attended Whitworth
College in Spokane, Washington, before moving to
the northern Idaho timber town of Orofino, where
she worked at Northside Medical Center.
She became a well-known political name in the
state when she moved to Boise in the 1970s,
serving as the executive director of the Idaho
Republican Party and becoming U.S. Rep. Steven
Symms' chief of staff.
She ran for Congress against incumbent Democrat
Larry LaRocco and gained national attention when
she held "endangered salmon bakes," serving canned
salmon and ridiculing the listing of Idaho salmon
as an endangered species during fundraisers.
Chenoweth-Hage also said that salmon aren't
endangered but white males are, complained about
black government helicopters harassing ranchers,
said minorities didn't like northern Idaho because
it is too cold and called for disarming federal
resource enforcement agents.
She also said she suffered from unjustified media
criticism because she was a woman and because she
stood firmly for western rights, independence and
During her congressional career, Chenoweth-Hage
was a victim of a "salmon pie" attack while at a
field hearing on forest health in Missoula,
Montana. Randall Mark of Moscow, Idaho hit her in
the head with a "pie" made of rotten canned
salmon, forcing the meeting to adjourn for an hour
while she cleaned salmon flakes from her hair and
After the attack, the congresswoman joked, "I
would like to say that I find it amusing that they
used salmon. I guess salmon must not be endangered
anymore." The stunt landed Mark in jail for more
than two months. He also got a year of probation.
She married Hage in 1999 in Meridian, Idaho, at a
ceremony attended by more than 1,000 guests. In
2000, Chenoweth-Hage considered a possible bid for
Idaho's lieutenant governor's post, but then opted
to work for a private property advocacy group in
More on Wayne Hage go HERE.