We want government to be limited and to
work for the people – not for the interests of connected insiders.
During 2011 ethical issues in state government have shaken the
peoples’ confidence in its state government to its core.
During this past year or so there have
been a number of ethical issues associated with elected officials,
their appointees, high ranking employees, and political party
officers (State Treasurer Crane, Royce Chigbrow, John Bujak, and
various legislators just to name a few). All of these issues have
been associated with Republicans.
Just to be clear, neither party has a
lock on ethical behavior, but in Idaho, Republicans have controlled
every statewide office and a supermajority of the legislature for
almost two decades. They create and foster the culture of
government. And that culture is now one of arrogance and
Along with my colleagues in the
Democratic caucus I have been actively pursuing ethics reform since
2005 (following the Jack Noble scandal). Unfortunately none of the
bills that we have sponsored have even gotten a hearing. Controlling
the revolving door of government officials to lobbyists, exposing
potential conflicts of interest by legislators, and reigning in the
influence of lobbyists are just some of the bills that we have
During the Governor’s State of the
State speech to begin the legislative session he didn't utter one
word about the ethics scandals that have infected his party. Not
one. Instead he actually complimented the legislature on its
honesty. That’s what people usually call tone deaf. Since then he
has maintained his silence on the ethical issues that continue to
plague his Party.
Like you, Idaho Democrats value hard
work and integrity. We intend to make sure that we renew the trust
in state government that has been squandered over the last year.
Democrats Roll Out Restore Ethics and
Accountability (REA) Initiative
Under considerable pressure from
Democrats, the public and the press, our Republican colleagues have
offered to work with us in evaluating (and possibly passing) a
series of ethics reforms introduced by Democrats (some since 2005).
Speaker Denny, while stating on TV that he doesn’t think there is a
problem in his legislature, agreed to work with Democrats by
creating a bipartisan working group to look at Democratic ethics
bills (none have been proposed by Republicans). Two Democrats each
from the House and Senate will work with an equal number of
Republican counterparts in this informal working group over the next
Amid this development our Democratic
caucus introduced three additional ethics reform bills (referenced
above) that together with the ethics commission bill we are calling
the Restore Ethics and Accountability (REA) initiative . The
bills included in the REA initiative include:
Commission (no bill # yet) –
Sets up an independent commission to evaluate the merits of
complaints of ethical and criminal lapses within state
government submitted by any citizen.
Conflict of Interest
– Requires disclosure of personal financial information by
elected officials and candidates to ensure that the public can
fully evaluate potential conflicts of interest of elected
SB1235) – Stops the
revolving door of elected official to lobbyist by requiring a
one year waiting period after leaving office before a former
elected official can register as a lobbyist in Idaho.
Reporting and Protection Act
(no bill # yet) – Sets up a confidential hotline and online
process for state employees to report issues of waste, fraud,
criminal, or ethics violations in state government.
In addition to these bills I proposed
three other basic ethics reform bills this week that are
co-sponsored by some of my colleagues. So far Republicans haven't
allowed these bills to be evaluated by the bipartisan working group.
These bills include:
Idaho Pay to Play
- prohibits contributions from state contractors, their
employees, or subcontractors to elected officials that could
appear to influence the awarding of state contracts.
Idaho Public Official
- puts in place a one year "cooling-off" period before a public
official (including state employees) can go to work for, or
receive other benefit from, a person or business if that public
official participated in the awarding of a contract or lease in
excess of $25,000 to that person or business in the two years
prior to leaving public service.
Honest Leadership and
Open Government Act
- imposes a prohibition on political contributions to elected
officials from lobbyists during legislative sessions and places
strict limits and public reporting on lobbyist gifts.
Together these ethics reforms (if
passed) would catapult Idaho from its embarrassingly dismal ranking
on ethics laws to the middle of the pack in the US. The laws would
also provide a framework for the evaluation and referral of
complaints by the proposed ethics commission. After all, without
reasonable laws the ethics commission will have precious little to
Why Ethics Bills?
A search of the Idaho Statesman will reveal all the details, Crane
(limos and gas usage, Chigbrow (illegal activities as head of the
Tax Commission, Bujak – stole $300,000 from taxpayer working on
private prosecution contract while also elected Canyon County
prosecutor, McGee (DUI and Per Diem scandal), McKenzie – Per diem
scandal, Hart – timber theft, tax evasion, using his legislative
position to stall court proceedings, illegally transferring
ownership of his house (built with stolen timber) to family to avoid
federal lien, Loertcher hiding a bill that would impact a lawsuit he
was about to file, etc.).
Next are a few articles of corruption.
Idaho Statesman Sep 4, 2011
Former Tax Commission Chairman Royce
Chigbrow is a lucky man.
Stories abound related to Chigbrow’s habit of using his position
to favor some and intimidate others. In fact, he was officially
investigated over several months on a suspicion of failing to
appropriately deposit checks from a taxpayer. The allegations
included his providing confidential information to a friend and
receiving checks totaling more than $30,000.
As luck would have it, Ada County Prosecutor Greg Bower announced
he won’t prosecute because a statute of limitations expired on one
complaint. He found evidence on other complaints insufficient to
prosecute. Bower received the complaint before the statute of
limitations ran out. Surely he was aware of timelines. Surely, as an
experienced prosecutor, Bower knows that prosecutors regularly go to
a defendant for a waiver of the statute of limitations for more time
to investigate. But the deadline was allowed to go by.
A lawsuit was filed against the Tax Commission a year ago in an
attempt to stop special consideration given well-connected
Affidavits filed at that time by certain auditors indicated that
roughly $50 million was at stake if these practices continued,
violating the commission’s own rules and regulations, as well as the
Chigbrow was removed from his position and replaced by former
state Sen. Robert Geddes, whom we trust to act more responsibly. But
it is clear that Idaho laws are not sufficient to give necessary
guidelines and transparency to protect taxpayers. So far,
legislative leaders have not been willing to take strong action.
Citizens should insist upon it.
State Rep. Shirley Ringo is a Moscow Democrat.
Read more here:
DUMBFOUNDED? WHO IS RON CRANE
TRYING TO FOOL?
Jan 9, 2012
Our take, from Kevin Richert’s column: Ron Crane’s use of a state
credit card may not be illegal. But the state treasurer’s failure to
keep track of his travels — on the public’s dime — is inexcusably
Where did Idaho Treasurer Ron Crane get the idea you should cover
the cost of his daily commute to work?
Everybody else in Idaho is shelling out $3 and $4 a gallon for
gas. But Crane, who commutes the 50-mile round trip from his Nampa
home to his office in Boise, uses a state-issued gasoline credit
card to fill his tank. In the past three years, that’s cost
Crane earns $90,000 a year.
Legislative auditors, who uncovered the practice, referred the
case to Canyon County Prosecutor Bryan Taylor. The focus seems to be
Crane’s sloppy record-keeping, although given the sums involved,
Crane either was burning up the highways between work and home — or
he spent some of the taxpayers’ money elsewhere.
Either way, Crane and his lawyer, former Idaho Attorney General
David Leroy, say no laws were broken. In fact, by filling his own
car with state-provided fuel, Crane says he saved the taxpayers
money over having them furnish him with a state-issued vehicle.
Hence, Crane said he was “dumbfounded” when legislative auditors
referred him to Taylor’s office.
Crane is charged with managing millions in state dollars. So
you’d think he’d know he wasn’t entitled to a state-issued car.
Since 1996, “the use of state vehicles for personal or other
non-official business is strictly prohibited.”
For the past 15 years, state policy disallowed “expenses for
travel between home and office or for other non-official purposes.”
Crane didn’t know that?
This is a politician who served 16 years in the Idaho House
before winning his current post in 1998. How can he be so out of
As John Miller of The Associated Press reported, four of Crane’s
fellow elected state officials drive their own cars to work and pay
for their own gas. That includes Gov. Butch Otter, Lt. Gov. Brad
Little and Secretary of State Ben Ysursa. Controller Donna Jones
makes a 120-mile round trip between Boise and her home in Payette.
She uses her own car and pays for her own fuel.
Only Attorney General Lawrence Wasden uses a state-provided car
to commute between work and his Nampa home — and uses a state-issued
credit card for the fuel. But Wasden’s office notes that’s part of a
long-standing compensation package for the attorney general, and he
pays income tax on it. Crane paid no tax.
Has Crane failed to notice how a third of the state budget
disappeared during the Great Recession? How state workers were
furloughed or even laid off? How they went without pay raises year
How school budgets were crimped, and college students were forced
to pay skyrocketing tuition to compensate for depleted higher
How desperately vulnerable adults were told the “new normal” of
Idaho’s economy required them to sacrifice some of their
Medicaid-provided health care?
Yet he continues to live a life of privilege. Where did he get
this sense of entitlement?
Could it be from state Sens. John McGee, R-Caldwell, and Curt
McKenzie, R-Nampa, who would rather sleep in Boise during the
legislative session but charge you extra through their legislative
How about state Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, who refuses to pay
income taxes and thinks he’s entitled to steal timber off state
Or the steady string of state lawmakers who convert years of
legislative service into hefty state retirements by switching over
to lucrative administrative posts late in their careers?
How about the part-time lawmakers who draw full-time health
Or former State Tax Commission Chairman Royce Chigbrow, who cut
sweetheart deals for his friends and escaped prosecution on a
From here, it sure looks like Crane hasn’t missed much at all.
John Bujak, who has said he would talk
to the media after the criminal investigation into his actions was
over, was silent Tuesday after that 14-month investigation led to
his arrest on two felony charges of grand theft.
And Canyon County commissioners, who initially went along with
and defended Bujak’s arrangement to put Nampa’s prosecution funds in
a private account, said they can’t discuss whether they regret that
support because they will be witnesses for the prosecution of their
Commissioner Kathy Alder said, however, that their stance is
“pretty obvious” based on the way new prosecutor Bryan Taylor has
handled the Nampa contract since Bujak resigned Sept. 30, 2010, amid
allegations he failed to pay the county several hundred thousand
“We’re doing it correctly now,” Alder said. All money from the
approximately $600,000 annual contract now goes directly to the
county, and financial records are available online.
Is Bujak in jail?
No. He was arrested at the end of a hearing in his divorce and
booked at the county jail. He was released on $5,000 bond, with
requirements that he surrender his passport and submit to electronic
What’s he accused of?
Two types of grand theft — by embezzlement and by deception —
each punishable by up to 14 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. The
charges allege Bujak improperly transferred about $236,000 for his
personal use between September 2009 and June 2010 while managing the
contract to use county staff and resources to prosecute misdemeanors
for the city of Nampa.
Wasn’t Bujak allowed to profit personally from the contract?
Payments were initially expected to go directly into county
coffers. But Bujak asked that the contract be specifically with him
and the money placed in a private trust account that only he could
access. That arrangement was permitted by a district judge after a
Nampa resident sued to get public access to financial records from
The same day the first Nampa payment went into the trust account,
Bujak began transferring money, generally $10,000 at a time, into
his private accounts, according to a court affidavit. County and
city officials believed all contract funds, after expenses, would go
to the county and that Bujak could not personally profit from the
contract, a belief Bujak reinforced in a contract-amendment
resolution his office prepared for commissioners to sign Oct. 6,
That resolution says Bujak “could himself realize no financial
advantage from his provision of prosecutorial service to the city.”
By that time, the affidavit said, Bujak already had transferred
$30,000 to a private account.
So what changed?
From the time Bujak resigned and through various legal
proceedings, county commissioners have alleged Bujak wrongfully took
about $300,000 in contract funds promised to the county.
The amount of theft alleged in the charges filed Tuesday is about
$63,000 lower, special prosecutor Bill Thompson said, because it
addresses only those funds taken by Bujak before commissioners
learned the prosecutor could realize a profit.
“That changed the nature of the relationship,” Thompson said.
That revelation came in June 2010, after Bob Henry of Nampa had
filed a public records lawsuit, according to the affidavit. A deputy
prosecutor wrote a letter to commissioners that included a statement
that Bujak might keep “any surplus” after paying the county and
others for contract-related expenses, but it “will hardly be the
hundreds of thousands of dollars currently being jostled in the
That deputy prosecutor later told investigators he didn’t know
that when he wrote the letter that Bujak had already transferred a
couple of hundred thousand dollars into his personal accounts.
Bujak told the Statesman in summer 2010 that he expected to
profit around $50,000 if he handled the contract funds wisely, and
that it was appropriate for him to receive some benefit since the
county and city would both be saving money via the contract.
He said he didn’t know personal profit would be allowed under
Idaho law when he initially arranged for the contract.
Are more charges possible?
Thompson said he doesn’t anticipate additional charges against
Bujak or anyone else.
Why did it take so long?
Thompson, the Latah County prosecutor, said the situation was
extremely complex, with a huge number of documents. He and Idaho
State Police Lt. Charlie Spencer, the lead investigator, took the
case over in October 2009.
“I have 12 gigabytes of data on this case,” Spencer said after a
news conference Tuesday. “I have no idea how many pages that is.”
In a brief email response to the Statesman Tuesday evening, Bujak
said he was busy meeting with attorneys but had no other comment.
His preliminary hearing is set for Jan. 25, when a magistrate
will determine whether there’s probable cause to try Bujak on the
What are the other Bujak-related legal issues?
They are numerous:
Æ Henry’s public records lawsuit, rejected in District Court, is
on appeal at the Idaho Supreme Court. The justices heard arguments
in the case last week but gave no indication how soon they would
issue the ruling. Henry wants the county to cover his legal costs.
Æ The Idaho State Bar Association has filed a complaint that
could result in the suspension of Bujak’s license to practice law.
The complaint, which will be decided by the bar’s professional
conduct board, focuses on Bujak’s handling of two clients before he
became county prosecutor in January 2009.
Æ Bujak’s Chapter 7 bankruptcy case continues in federal
bankruptcy court, but he waived protection from his creditors — the
primary reason people file for bankruptcy — after issues were raised
about his sale of a $25,000 Rolex watch that was not listed as an
asset in his bankruptcy papers.
Æ The bankruptcy trustee, whose job is to recover as many assets
as possible for Bujak’s creditors, has filed legal action against
Canyon County seeking nearly $1 million, alleging that the Nampa
contract was Bujak’s private property and that the county took it
over without compensating Bujak. It is unclear whether this lawsuit
would continue if the Idaho Supreme Court declares the contract was
Æ Bujak’s lawsuit against Bob Henry and the private firm that
held the Nampa contract before he outbid them was dismissed last
month at the behest of the bankruptcy trustee. It was dismissed
without prejudice. That means Bujak could later revive the lawsuit,
which alleges a conspiracy to ruin his reputation.
Æ Bujak’s divorce case against his wife, Pepper, is set for trial
Read more here:
Llisten to as much of his committee and floor coverage as you have
time to and look for any media coverage on him out there and track
any dirt or interesting information you find on this form for our
use during campaign season
I also think it is worth starting a twitter account and
following all the Idaho news stations using
http://www.tweetdeck.com/. It pops up a little screen
in the corner of your computer and you can see breaking news as
it happens. All the media uses Twitter and breaking news happens
their first. They are especially good at capturing the OMG I
can't believe that person actually just said that moments.
If there is something especially compelling that happens in a
committee or floor session, please let me know so we can talk to
IDPTV and get a copy of the video or audio feed to have on file.
commission adopted a new map today, L93 with 6-0 vote. We
are working on identifying the strengths of the party in each
district. To find out what district you are in click the link
below to see the new map.
Matthew Jones (Political Science
Instructor) gives expert video advice on: What is a
'liberal', and which party does it best describe?; What is a
'conservative', and which party does it best describe?; What
is a 'progressive', and which party does it best describe?
What is a 'liberal', and which party does it best
American liberalism describes what we call the "left
side" of the political spectrum. It really applies,
mostly, to the Democratic Party, although more so to the
green party, a lot of people would say, than the
Democratic Party. But, in terms of parties and power,
the Democratic Party tends to try to encapsulate the
left side of the political spectrum. That would be
modern liberalism. Modern liberalism got its start and
came into its own in the twentieth century, when it
combined the progressive movement, which was workers'
rights, social justice, that idea--this civil
libertarianism, civil liberties, and that idea. It
really came into national prominence with the Civil
Rights Movement, and the fight to end segregation and
for African-American equality, that sort of thing. Then
it changed with the counter-culture of the 1960s and
70s. It changed to encapsulate feminism and then later
on, gay rights, and that counter-culture, which is the
anti-traditional, or against challenging traditional
values. That was brought into that, and it still
combines support for the welfare state, government
intervention into the economy, workers' rights, social
justice. That kind of encapsulates modern American
What is a 'conservative', and which party does it
Modern American conservatism, which again is
different than European conservatism or classical
conservatism, classifies the right side of the
ideological spectrum, and really that applies best to
the Republican party. The Constitution party, and to
some extent the reform party when Patrick Buchanan was
the nominee, really was more conservative in certain
ways than the Republican party, but the Republican party
tries to be the party that catches all the right side of
the political spectrum. And conservatism applies to
traditional values, free markets, law and order - the
rule of law, following the law, and an aggressive stance
in foreign policy.
What is a 'progressive', and which party does it
A progressive, in one sense we can go back to the
progressive movement that started after the industrial
revolution. The champion was William Jennings Bryan, he
was kind of populous in a lot of ways. It was for
workers rights, social justice, challenging, or
reforming established powers like big business, or
different parties and that sort of thing. They are the
ones that wanted to reform the party system. The
progressive system was the one that changed the way that
senators were elected in the United States. It used to
be that senators were appointed by the state government.
They're the one's that movement was significant in
getting that changed to being elected directly. The
progressive movement got absorbed into modern liberalism
during the 20th century. Nowadays, being a liberal and
being a progressive is used interchangeably.
What is a 'moderate', and which party does it best
People can self-identify as moderate in two ways. One
way is that they don't like to take extreme positions on
any particular issue. So for instance, a moderate on
abortion would be somebody who doesn't want to like say,
no abortions, all abortions are illegal, or doesn't want
to say abortion at any time, any time during the
trimester for whatever reason. What they want is, they
consider themselves taking a moderate position by taking
a middle stance which is, yes abortion legal, but it's
restricted. That would be maybe a moderate position in
that sense. Another way to look at a moderate, if
somebody considers themself a moderate is if they take
conservative positions on certain issues and liberal
positions on other issues. So that they can't really
lump themselves into either party or either ideological
camp very easily. So they consider themselves a
moderate, but that's more because they're taking
different ideological positions on different issues,
which is different than a moderate who takes kind of the
middle ground on any particular issue. And moderates, in
terms of the party that they're more affiliated with,
really by definition, they're - it's a toss up. Right?
They can go, moderates can go more for the Democratic
party, they can go more for the Republican party.
Depending on which issues are prioritized, or who the
candidates are. And a lot of times moderates focus on
aspects of the candidates, like likability, like
speaking, mannerisms, those sorts of things, to decide
between them. Because they can be less ideological or
because they can't fall into an ideological camp that
predisposes them to vote for the conservative candidate
or the liberal candidate.