Canyon County sheriff under investigation

The Idaho Attorney General’s Office has opened an investigation into possible misconduct by Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue.

The county was notified Aug. 17 by fax that Donahue was under investigation for unspecified allegations, Canyon County spokesman Joe Decker said Tuesday.

The Attorney General’s Office asked that office and cellular telephone records for Donahue and several other sheriff’s employees from Nov. 12, 2012, to the present be preserved.

Seeking records from the other employees, who Decker did not identify, does not mean those employees are also under investigation.

“What we were told was that the sheriff is under investigation, not the sheriff’s office,” Decker said.

Donahue, who is attending meetings in Blackfoot until Thursday, has not issued a public statement, Decker said. A call to Donahue’s cell phone Tuesday afternoon went unanswered and it would not allow a message to be left.

Later, Decker issued a written statement from the sheriff.

“I was made aware by the Attorney General’s Office that an anonymous complaint had been made alleging misconduct. We have been and will continue to cooperate fully with the AG's investigation,” Donahue said in the statement. “We are confident that at the conclusion of the investigation the sheriff's office and I will be cleared of any wrongdoing.”

The investigation hasn’t affected the operation of the office, Decker said.

“The sheriff is still the sheriff of Canyon County,” he said.

Donahue became sheriff in January 2013. He previously served as the county’s chief deputy.

Decker said he is seeking an opinion on whether the fax from the Attorney General’s Office is a public record. He said he would release the fax if it is considered a public record under Idaho’s Public Record Law.

Todd Dvorak, spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, said he could not confirm or deny whether Donahue is the subject of an ongoing investigation.

The Attorney General’s fax to the county says Donahue is being investigated under Idaho section 31-2002, Decker said. The public corruption statute covers preliminary investigations and actions against elected county officials. It says the attorney general shall conduct a preliminary investigation following an allegation of a violation of state civil or criminal law by an elected county official.

Upon completion of the investigation, the attorney general can issue a finding that no further action is necessary, he can prescribe training or other nonjudicial remedies or issue a recommendation for further investigation or prosecution. The recommendation for further action would go to the county prosecutor, who would seek the appointment of a special prosecutor to handle the case, according to Idaho code.