State Politics

Nampa lawmaker responds to allegations of an affair with fellow legislator

Rep. Christy Perry, R-Nampa, and Sen. Jim Guthrie, R-McCammon.
Rep. Christy Perry, R-Nampa, and Sen. Jim Guthrie, R-McCammon.

Republican Rep. Christy Perry of Nampa issued a statement Thursday evening denying that she is engaged in an ongoing affair.

Perry said she had gone through a “profound crisis” and turned to a colleague in the Idaho legislature and “ultimately made a terrible mistake for which I am truly sorry for.”

Perry did not mention the other legislator by name. However, Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill said Thursday that auditors with the Legislative Services Office will begin reviewing the past three years of travel vouchers of Perry and Republican Sen. Jim Guthrie of McCammon.

Perry filed for divorce in April, citing irreconcilable differences. The case was dismissed in June because the couple decided to reconcile, according to court records.

Perry said what happened took place about two years ago and that she told her husband, Matt, of the details. Perry said she and her husband have worked to mend their relationship and continue their 23-year marriage.

“Unfortunately, someone has decided to use the past situation to launch a disgustingly brutal attack,” Perry said in the statement. “Overall, it is not accurate and serves no positive purpose in the lives of the families involved or the political arena.”

Hill said investigators will also look to see if the two breached any rules of ethical conduct.

“We want to do our due diligence,” Hill told The Associated Press. “We want to know if there is any truth to these allegations of impropriety with public funds. So we’re looking through travel vouchers, seeing if they went to the same conferences or meetings and seeing if anything matches up.”

Perry received daily commuting mileage reimbursements for the 2015 and 2016 legislative sessions but no other reimbursements, according to Terri Franks-Smith, chief fiscal officer for the Idaho House of Representatives.

Accusations that Perry and Guthrie were involved in an affair first surfaced on a blog published Tuesday. Guthrie’s wife, Barbara, told blogger Lance Earl that the affair had been going on for three years. Guthrie filed for divorce last summer. The divorce was finalized in July, according to court documents.

During the divorce case, Jim Guthrie admitted to having an affair. But he denied that was the reason for seeking a divorce.

Hill said Thursday that Guthrie had not confirmed the allegations to him, but Hill has talked to Guthrie several times since the accusations were made.

Hill also discussed the investigation with Boise radio station KBOI-AM host Nate Shelman.

Guthrie did not respond to requests for comment. A voicemail account for Perry was full Thursday and Friday morning.

Only lawmakers can request a formal ethics investigation against a fellow lawmaker. So far, none has been made. Instead, Hill described his request as an “informal investigation” that will likely influence any further action.

An ethics committee can be called in the case of a complaint that alleges conduct unbecoming of a House or Senate member. State law does not define what constitutes unbecoming conduct. An ethics complaint filed by a lawmaker is not public until the committee concludes it has merit.

The last time an ethics committee was called to convene was in 2012 to investigate whether former Sen. Monty Pearce, a Republican from New Plymouth, properly disclosed a potential conflict of interest on several contested natural gas-related bills. The bipartisan committee unanimously voted to dismiss the charges after three days of hearings. Pearce then lost his seat while seeking re-election.

Both lawmakers are seeking re-election and face Democratic opponents. However, their legislative districts have consistently swung Republican. The two currently hold legislative leadership positions, with Perry overseeing the House Ways and Means Committee and Guthrie serving as vice chair of the Senate Local Government and Taxation Committee.

Idaho State Police spokeswoman Teresa Baker said the agency is not involved in any investigation surrounding the allegations.

Here is Perry’s complete statement:

“I was once experiencing a profound crisis in my life. During that time I turned to a friend in the legislature and ultimately made a terrible mistake for which I am truly sorry for.

“This occurred approximately two years ago and my husband was made fully aware of all details. Our decision was to face our problems head on.

“We have been actively seeking help and guidance for quite some time and are fully committed to our marriage of 23 years, our family, and each other. It is our hope you can support us in our very personal decision.

“Unfortunately, someone has decided to use the past situation to launch a disgustingly brutal attack. Overall, it is NOT accurate and serves no positive purpose in the lives of the families involved or the political arena.

“I have worked incredibly hard in the Idaho legislature for my district and the state. I will let my reputation, my work on policy issues, my voting record, and work ethic speak for me.”

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