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Eye On Boise

Wed., March 6, 2013, 8:01 a.m.

Senate panel clears bill to have Attorney General investigate county officials’ legal violations

Six Canyon County lawmakers have joined forces to propose SB 1080, a measure to put the state Attorney General in charge of investigating civil or criminal law violations by county elected officials, including open meeting law violations by boards of county commissioners. “This is a bill that addresses a conflict of interest,” Sen. Jim Rice, R-Caldwell, told the Senate State Affairs Committee this morning, because county prosecutors represent those officials - and thus aren't the best ones to investigate their crimes. Canyon County has been through much angst over the case of its former elected county prosecutor, John Bujak, a case that’s involved charges and lawsuits.

SB 1080 calls for adding an additional deputy attorney general and one investigator, at a cost of $212,600 a year, to create a new unit to investigate such crimes.

Senators on the committee raised some concerns about the wording in the bill, and whether it would prompt investigations of “any allegation” of law-breaking, rather than any credible allegation. Others said the law might need to be modified later, depending on how it works. Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, called the measure “a good bill,” and said, “And I think it’s not a hypothetical, as we’ve witnessed in several occasions.” The bill was approved on a voice vote, and now moves to the full Senate.

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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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