Ada sheriff alleges ethics violation against Reps. Patterson, Boyle

Gary Raney says the Idaho attorney general’s services were used for ‘personal benefit.’

dpopkey@idahostatesman.comNovember 13, 2013 

Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney, left, and state Rep. Mark Patterson, right.

In an email to House Speaker Scott Bedke, Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney says Reps. Mark Patterson and Judy Boyle used taxpayer-funded legal advice to contest Raney’s revocation of Patterson’s concealed weapons license.

Patterson and Boyle have called Raney’s revocation of the license “retaliatory,” after Raney and Patterson clashed over a gun-rights bill authored by Patterson early this year.

Patterson and Boyle did not reply to requests for comment Tuesday. But Boyle told the Statesman on Nov. 1 that she asked for the attorney general’s help on behalf of constituents, not Patterson.

On Aug. 1, Boyle asked Attorney General Lawrence Wasden questions about the concealed weapons law. The opinion supplied to Boyle on Aug. 21 by Deputy Attorney General Paul Panther was cited by Patterson in a sheriff’s hearing in late August.

“Because Rep. Patterson procured and used this advice for his personal benefit, this is a violation of the Ethics in Government Act,” Raney wrote Bedke on Oct. 31. The ethics law provides for civil penalties of up to $500 for using public office for personal gain.

Raney also said that if Patterson, R-Boise, “used deception” to obtain the attorney general’s legal advice for his “personal benefit, he committed a crime,” citing Idaho Code, 18-2403 (5) (a), which defines theft through deception.

Raney also said that if Boyle, R-Midvale, knowingly obtained legal advice for Patterson’s personal benefit, she committed a crime, citing 18-2403 (5) (c), which defines theft through diversion.

SEEKING CLARITY

The Statesman obtained Raney’s complaint Tuesday under the Public Records Law. Most of the two-page document was blacked out to remove information regarding the concealed weapons license application that Raney said is exempt from public disclosure.

Boyle’s Aug. 1 letter asked Wasden three questions: What penalties apply to violations of the confidentiality of the concealed weapons permit process? What crimes or withheld judgments would disqualify an applicant from a license? Are all the questions on the application form authorized by law?

Patterson and his attorney, Wade Woodard, say Raney violated the Public Records Law by telling the Statesman he ordered Patterson’s license revoked on Oct. 29. Woodard also argues that the withheld judgment cited by Raney is not grounds for revocation. Patterson received the judgment in Florida in 1974, after pleading guilty to assault with intent to commit rape.

In the Nov. 1 interview, Boyle said questions about the penalties for violating confidentiality are “something that my constituents have asked me through the years.”

“She already had it in the works,” said Patterson in an Oct. 31 interview.

On Nov. 1, Boyle said she learned “in the last few days” from Patterson that Raney was moving to revoke his license. Raney began the process May 22.

Boyle said constituents also asked when a withheld judgment would disqualify an applicant.

“Does that last forever or does it end when you’ve paid your due (and completed the terms of sentencing)?” Boyle said. “It’s kind of unclear.” Boyle said she questions whether such a sentence should bring a lifetime ban.

Deputy Attorney General Panther told Boyle there are no criminal penalties for officials who release details of exempt records. Any civil action, he said, “would be heavily dependent on the facts of a specific case.”

Assault with intent to commit rape is a serious felony that would exclude issuance of a license, Panther wrote.

Panther said one question should be removed from the form: “Have you previously applied for a concealed weapon permit in Idaho?”

NO VETTING REQUESTS

House Ethics Committee Chairman Lynn Luker, R-Boise, declined comment. Bedke was working on his ranch in Nevada on Tuesday and was unreachable. Bedke has acknowledged receipt of Raney’s email, but only complaints from House members can trigger an Ethics Committee inquiry.

Attorney general’s spokesman Bob Cooper said ethics matters are the business of the House. Any criminal charges would be the responsibility of the county prosecutor, Cooper said.

Cooper also said it’s not Wasden’s job to police legislator requests. The law says it is the attorney general’s duty to give written opinions to any legislator or statewide elected official “upon any question of law relating to their respective offices.”

Said Cooper: “There’s nothing in the statute that provides for the attorney general to make an assessment of the motivations of a legislator. It says they ask a question, you give the answer.”

Revocation of Patterson’s license became effective Tuesday, after Patterson did not file an appeal to Raney. Patterson could sue to seek to regain a license first issued in 2007.

As one of more than 3,000 elected officials exempt by Idaho law from the licensing requirement, Patterson may carry a concealed weapon as long as he remains in office. His first two-year term ends Dec. 1, 2014. Absent a license, however, he would lose his right to carry in 29 states with reciprocity agreements with Idaho.

Dan Popkey: 377-6438, Twitter: @IDS_politics

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