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Eye On Boise

Panel votes to censure Noble

The Senate Ethics Committee has voted to censure Sen. Jack Noble, R-Kuna, for ethics violations, after a vote to expel him from the Senate failed on a 3-3 party-line vote.

If the full Senate approves the committee’s recommendation, Noble will be required to stand in the well of the Senate and receive a verbal rebuke, plus lose any leadership positions he holds. He’s currently vice-chairman of the Senate Education Committee, a position he would no longer have under the recommendation.

Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, said he agonized over his vote on the six-member ethics committee. Committee members initially were informed that state legislators can’t be recalled by voters; based on that, Goedde said he’d favor expulsion. But during the early-morning meeting of the panel today, the committee was informed that the Idaho Constitution allows all state elected officials to be recalled, including lawmakers. Goedde said that changed his mind. “It ought to be the voters of his district who weigh his effectiveness,” Goedde told the committee. “For that reason I don’t think I could support expulsion.”

Goedde offered a motion to censure Noble and strip him of membership on all Senate committees except the committee of the whole, but ended up withdrawing that motion. Sen. Kate Kelly, D-Boise, expressed concern that that move might leave Noble’s district with “less representation than the rest of the districts in the state … because of circumstances beyond their control, and how fair is that?”

Sen. Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, the ethics committee chairman, said, “There will be many who will criticize what it is that we did. No one really wins in these situations – everybody loses.”

Noble sat stone-faced through the proceedings, conferring occasionally with his attorney, former Lt. Gov. David Leroy. Leroy said at the end of the meeting that Noble would have a written statement later today in response to the committee’s vote.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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