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Eye On Boise

Tue., March 20, 2012, 9:28 a.m.

Ethics panel adjourns ‘til tomorrow, despite one senator’s push to end it now…

The Senate Ethics Committee has adjourned until tomorrow at 8 a.m., and things got a little hot at the end. Senate Assistant Minority Leader Les Bock wanted to offer a few more comments, but Chairman Dean Mortimer, R-Idaho Falls, opted to put that off. Sen. Jim Hammond, R-Coeur d'Alene, said he's ready to dismiss the complaint right now. "I am not seeing any evidence that this individual senator enjoyed any benefit greater than anybody else in that class, and I don't see that we have a need to pursue this any further," he said. Sens. Elliot Werk, D-Boise, and Diane Bilyeu, D-Pocatello, said the panel hasn't examined whether Sen. Monty Pearce's lease was different from other leases, and wants that examination.

Sen. Dan Schmidt, D-Moscow, said, "I'd like to take the senator at his word, he told me he had a conflict, and I'd like to hear from him. He's been accused and I think he needs the right of a defense. I think that's an opportunity need to give him." Mortimer said, "It's my understanding that the senator does not have to respond other than in writing one way or the other." Schmidt said he does see evidence of a gain to Pearce, because "I do believe that 464 would increase gas production in Payette County." Under Pearce's lease, he gets an eight of the proceeds from any gas produced.

Hammond interjected, "'Do believe it would increase' - that's speculative. It might increase." At that point, Mortimer adjourned the meeting.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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