Former U.S. Rep. Helen Chenoweth-Hage, a Republican who held "endangered salmon bakes" and once accused federal agents of using black helicopter gunships, died Monday in a car crash, her daughter said. She was 68.
Chenoweth-Hage, whose arch-conservative, often libertarian and
sometimes extreme views made her popular with militia movements,
was the passenger in a one-car crash near Tonopah, Nev., 172 miles
northwest of Las Vegas, said her daughter Meg Chenoweth Keenan. No one else was seriously hurt, she said.
The Nevada Highway Patrol said Chenoweth-Hage was pronounced
dead at the scene. Though other family members were in the car -
including the driver, daughter-in-law Yelena Hage, 24, and Hage's
5-month-old son Bryan.
Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Rocky Gonzalez said Chenoweth-Hage
was holding the baby and wasn't wearing a seat belt. Both Chenoweth-Hage and the baby were thrown from the car but the child "miraculously" had only minor injuries, Gonzalez said.
Born in Topeka, Kan., Chenoweth-Hage grew up in Grants Pass,
Ore. and attended Whitworth College in Spokane, Wash., before
moving to the northern Idaho timber town of Orofino, where she
worked at Northside Medical Center.
She ran for Congress in 1994 against Idaho 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
An advocate of smaller government and property rights,
Chenoweth-Hage won the race and served a self-imposed three-term
limit as a U.S. representative.
She was the victim of a "salmon pie" attack while at a field
hearing on forest health in Missoula, Mont. in September 2000. She
was hit in the head with a "pie" made of rotten canned salmon,
forcing the meeting to briefly adjourn while she cleaned salmon
flakes from her hair and jacket.
Afterward, the congresswoman joked, "I would like to say that I
find it amusing that they used salmon. I guess salmon must not be
Chenoweth-Hage called for the disarming of federal resource
agents in 1995 after claiming that they had landed black
helicopters on private land in eastern Idaho to enforce the
Endangered Species Act. The claim drew national criticism, and she
later conceded she had never personally seen the now-infamous
Chenoweth married her second husband, Wayne Hage, in 1999. He
was a Nevada rancher who came to epitomize Nevada's Sagebrush
Rebellion as he battled for decades with the federal government
over public lands and private property rights. He died in June at