Canyon candidates acknowledge criminal convictions

Several say they learned from their mistakes; one says he was wrongly targeted.

cmsewell@idahostatesman.comMay 16, 2014 

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The Idaho Statesman conducts background check on candidates running for office. Four GOP legislative primary candidates have criminal backgrounds:

District 10 House Seat A candidate Brandon Hixon

Hixon, 32, has been convicted of five misdemeanors: two minor in possession of alcohol (2002 and 1999), urinating in public (2002), invalid driver's license (2003) and curfew violation (1997). Hixon paid fines related to his misdemeanors; he did not serve any time in jail.

"These youthful indiscretions were all between 12 and 16 years ago, when I was between the ages of 15 to 19 years old. I haven't had so much as a speeding ticket for approximately five years," Hixon told the Statesman. He is unopposed in the GOP primary.

District 10 House Seat B candidate Greg Chaney

Nampa Police in 2009 charged Chaney with four misdemeanors following a domestic dispute with his girlfriend. He pleaded guilty to one charge and guilty to an amended charge; two charges were dropped. He was sentenced to 180 days in jail with 177 suspended and fined $204 for disturbing the peace. He received three days in jail and a $604 fine for malicious injury to property. Chaney and his girlfriend later married. They have two kids and were divorced in 2011.

"I was not being the person I was created to be, the person I wanted to be," Chaney, 32, told the Statesman. "I didn't have God in my life and my lifestyle led to bad decisions. I recognize - sadly from personal experience - that when you lose sight of God first and the family second, that the result can be chaos."

After the deadline passed to remove his name from the ballot, Chaney withdrew from the race. His name will appear unopposed on the ballot, but write-in candidates Brian Bishop and Kent Marmon are running.

Read the Statesman's editorial board's endorsement of Brian Bishop

District 12 Senate candidate Lee Arthur Rice II

A Boise federal grand jury in 2002 convicted Rice on two drug-related counts: conspiracy to distribute ecstasy and maintaining a place for distributing controlled substances. At the time, Rice operated Lee's Hip Hop Kick Boxing and Knockouts on South Orchard Street in Boise.

A federal judge sentenced Rice to seven years in federal prison and three years probation. Rice was released from prison in August 2008; he completed the terms of his probation in August 2011.

Rice, 60, insists he is innocent. He said he was unaware drugs were being sold at the rave parties hosted in his buildings. He said he found out his business partner knew the drugs were being sold and dissolved their partnership, according to Statesman reports at the time.

"I cannot and will not accept responsibility for something I did not do. That is where I stand," Rice told the judge at his 2003 sentencing.

Rice said he was "a political prisoner for 10 years."

In October 2013, Rice filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Boise, alleging he was roughed up by several police officers and deputies after he refused to leave his car or give his driver's license to a State Police trooper. The trooper pulled him over for failing to signal for five seconds while making a lane change on Interstate 84.

Rice obtained a video shot from the trooper's dashboard camera to bolster his claim that he hadn't done anything wrong in the early morning hours of Dec. 26, 2011. After watching the video, a Fourth District Court judge ruled the trooper lacked probable cause to pull Rice over and dismissed charges of resisting arrest and failure to purchase a driver's license. Rice filed a federal civil rights case against more than a dozen law enforcement officers; that case is pending.

"I am a good candidate," Rice told the Statesman Thursday. "I am Navy veteran. I will uphold the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. But first and foremost I believe God's law is supreme. The founding fathers have said that."

Rice faces incumbent Todd Lakey and write-in candidate Heidi Knittel in the primary.

District 13 House Seat A candidate Patrick O'Brien

Police charged O'Brien with domestic battery against his wife in 1998. He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, disturbing the peace. O'Brien, 42, said he does not remember details about why he was arrested, but remembers there was "no physical abuse … just loud arguments." Canyon County court records were not immediately available to confirm details.

A judge fined O'Brien $163.50 and gave him a six-month suspended jail sentence. O'Brien also pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of fishing without a license (1995), trespassing (1992) and underage alcohol consumption (1990). He paid fines and served no jail time.

"When I was much younger, I did have my share of mess ups. I have learned a great deal from my earlier youthful transgressions," he told the Statesman. "I became a born-again Christian in 2006 and have a better understanding of the impact of my actions to both God and those around me."

O'Brien is challenging Rep. Brent J. Crane in the primary.

Cynthia Sewell: 377-6428, Twitter: @CynthiaSewell

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