Idaho State Police in 2013 recommended that House Speaker Scott Bedke seek a protection order against a woman investigated for stalking him after determining that her behavior was “un-prosecutable” for a charge of extortion.
Bedke and his lawyer, fearing an “extensive media inquiry,” declined to pursue such an order, according to a case-closing memo in the state police file, which was reviewed by the Statesman. The investigating officer advised that any further contact from the woman would give authorities “a solid case” of stalking against her.
The 2013 incident came to light last week when right-wing websites published stories about claims in an affidavit the woman provided in January recounting her version of certain events from the period.
That disclosure was the latest salvo in an attack on the speaker from supporters of a conservative North Idaho lawmaker who was reprimanded by Bedke last month, removed from her committee assignments for disparaging female colleagues.
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The woman, Lissa Cochrane, a onetime House legislative secretary, prepared the affidavit after reading about Bedke’s sanctions against Rep. Heather Scott and then contacting her, later sending the affidavit to one of the websites. The statements she attributed to Bedke in the affidavit regarding a 2012 House State Affairs committee hearing, have been refuted by witnesses, including reporters and lawmakers.
Now residing in her native Colorado, Cochrane worked as secretary to the committee in 2012. A year later, in March 2013, the state police file shows, she began sending Bedke personal text messages that he initially wrote off as a wrong number.
Bedke brought the matter to the Attorney General’s Office after the contacts continued, with Cochrane apparently inventing an affair with the speaker, mailing him a letter and small gifts. In May 2013, police investigated Cochrane for possible blackmail and extortion against the speaker, interviewing her twice.
In an Aug. 12, 2013, memo to a supervisor, the investigating detective noted that Cochrane had “admitted to sending the text, a gift, and letter” to Bedke but “meant no threat” and had no proof of any interaction with him. The detective had been advised by the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office that the elements for a charge of theft by extortion “are not satisfied, rendering the case un-prosecutable.”
Sen. Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, the Senate majority leader, was acting as Bedke’s lawyer. Bedke and Davis, according to the memo, were “content with no prosecution” based on the determination of the prosecutors. Davis wrote Cochrane a cease-and-desist letter.
“If Cochrane continues to attempt contact with Speaker Bedke after receipt of the letter, we have a solid case of Stalking in the 2nd degree,” the detective wrote to conclude the memo. “However, an arrest or prosecution of Cochrane may lead to the same result of a media inquiry of the case.”