THIS IS NO TIME TO PLAY FAVORITES
Post Register, Idaho Falls
The House Republican caucus is split along ideological lines. Heading the moderate faction is Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley. Leading the conservative wing is Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star.
Theres one thing, however, that Bedke and Moyle should agree upon: The integrity of the House is more important than politics, ideology or friendship. And so, the two top House Republicans must come together and demand an investigation into one of their own, Rep. Mark Patterson, R-Boise.
Bedke and Moyle cannot let slide facts uncovered by Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney after Patterson applied for a concealed weapon permit. Under penalty of perjury, Patterson answered no to the question, Have you ever had an entry of a withheld judgment for a criminal offense which would disqualify you from obtaining a concealed weapon permit?
Raney found that in 1974, Patterson received a withheld judgment after pleading guilty to assault with intent to commit rape in Florida. A 46-year-old woman said then-21-year-old Patterson coerced her into having sex by threatening to have his dog attack her. Patterson told Dan Popkey of the Idaho Statesman he couldnt remember the incident, a product of chemotherapy treatments for hepatitis C. Hours later, however, Patterson issued a statement saying his accuser lied and that he was beaten in jail.
The story doesnt end here, though. In 1977, Patterson was charged with another rape by means of forcibly choking and threatening a woman in Ohio. He was acquitted. He wont fill in details about his past residences or occupations, though Popkeys research shows Patterson has lived in at least five states. Finally, Patterson was accused of exaggerating his academic and professional credentials during the last election.
Ethics complaints can only be made by sitting House members. Given the ugliness of this case, a complaint shouldnt come from just any member. It should come from the top. From Moyle, a political ally of Patterson whose involvement would signal how serious this is; from Bedke, who was elevated after his caucus grew tired of former Speaker Lawerence Boss Denneys willingness to overlook the transgressions of his friends.
The Houses standing ethics committee, minus Patterson ally and defender Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, should be tasked with determining whether the Boise Republicans regrettable past and willingness to risk perjury constitutes conduct unbecoming a Representative which is detrimental to the integrity of the House as a legislative body.
Bedke called Pattersons 1974 guilty plea certainly a serious matter. Moyle hasnt commented publicly. Clearly, this could go a couple of ways. Bedke and Moyle can offer Patterson the same kind of cover Denney provided tax scofflaw Phil Hart. Or they could follow the example set by the Senate, whose leadership in the past decade called for investigations into two troubled Republicans, Jack Noble of Kuna and John McGee of Caldwell.
Denneys decision damaged his reputation and eroded public trust.
Actions by Senate leaders led to the resignations of Noble and McGee and sent a message that those elected to make the laws must abide by them as well.
Given this history, we have one question: What are Moyle and Bedke waiting for?
JEER TO LUKER
When it comes to concealed weapons permits, Idaho has two standards one for Idahos 3,000 elected officials and another for the rest of us.
Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise, says thats OK.
The issue came to light after Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney revoked state Rep. Mark Pattersons concealed weapon permit. Patterson failed to disclose his withheld judgment in a 1974 Florida rape case.
But hes been rescued by a 1909 Idaho law, which allows him to carry a concealed weapon as long as he remains in office.
Luker told the Spokesman-Reviews Betsy Russell he likes the 1909 law.
Certainly public officials can be targets in their own rights, especially in todays world, Luker said.