Eye On Boise

Ethics panel votes unanimously to dismiss complaint against Sen. Pearce

Sen. Jim Hammond, R-Coeur d'Alene, moved to dismiss the ethics charges against Senate Resources Chairman Monty Pearce. "In terms of public perception, he would've been well-served to disclose in committee," Hammond said. "That would have helped the situation. But what I don't want to do is get us in a situation where when we pass a budget for education, I've got to disclose because my children or my grandchildren go to school in the state of Idaho. Or when we pass the higher education budget, I've got to disclose because my wife is an employee of Lewis-Clark State college. There is a huge disconnect, and that's a huge class of people who benefit from that budget. Do we need to disclose for every one of those? I don't think so. ... I have found nothing here relative to our rules that lead me to do anything but move that we dismiss the charges."

Sen. Dan Schmidt, D-Moscow, seconded the motion. "With our investigation, I do not believe we can demonstrate direct pecuniary benefit to Sen. Pearce for his actions supporting the bill, HB 464," Schmidt said. "If indeed we were able, he may be in a class that would be large enough that would exclude him from the necessity to declare a conflict. Nonetheless, Sen. Pearce's actions, that is to be actively engaged in bringing forward legislation through his committee, indeed controversial legislation that evoked public input with no public declaration of conflict at the time, then before the final vote on the floor to declare a possible conflict, following which he argued for the legislation, saying that passage of such would increase gas production in Idaho, therefore benefiting lease holders, his actions placed Sen. Pearce's conduct in doubt and necessitated these painful deliberations we conclude today."

"I want to assume all senators are acting in good faith, and I want the public to assume that too," Schmidt said. "This open, public, albeit painful process honors the rules that we follow, it honors the body we attend and the public we serve." To Pearce's attorney, Chuck Peterson, Schmidt said, "For those who dismiss this as a pure political theater ... you denigrate me, you misrepresent the Senate."

The vote was unanimous.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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