ADVERTISEMENT
Advertise Here
Archive

Eye On Boise

Woodings rips Denney over hiring of private attorney for public lands transfer panel

Rep. Holli Woodings, D-Boise, is ripping her GOP opponent in the Secretary of State's race, Lawerence Denney, for hiring a private attorney with public funds to represent the Legislature's Federal Lands Interim Committee, after he and co-chair Sen. Chuck Winder didn't like the legal advice they got from the Idaho Attorney General's office on the chances for getting federal public lands transferred to the state. “Without consulting other committee members, Winder and Denney hired a private attorney who will be paid $41,000 in taxpayer dollars,” Woodings writes. “The other committee members learned of this decision only after Sen. Winder disclosed the hiring to Montana legislators.” That disclosure is detailed in an AP story here.

“Lawerence Denney has a history of spending public dollars on private lawyers when hes looking for a specific outcome,” Woodings writes. “Now, with the federal lands committee, we again have Denney using taxpayer dollars to shop around for an attorney who will give him the opinion he wants.” Denney, R-Midvale, is the former speaker of the House; he was deposed as speaker in 2012, and became chairman of the House Resources Committee and co-chair of the land transfer panel. Click below for Woodings' full statement, sent to Idaho news media today; Denney hasn't yet responded to calls seeking his response.

 


Private Lawyers for Public Lands

 By Holli Woodings

 As elected officials, we owe it to Idahoans to conduct the states business with transparency and manage our tax dollars carefully. I believe that the co-chairs of Idaho Federal Lands Interim Committee fell short on both standards.

 Interim committees operate on budgets of $20,000, yet the co-chairs of the lands committee, Sen. Chuck Winder and Rep. Lawerence Denney, decided to blow that budget by 200 percent.

 Without consulting other committee members, Winder and Denney hired a private attorney who will be paid $41,000 in taxpayer dollars. The other committee members learned of this decision only after Sen. Winder disclosed the hiring to Montana legislators. Thats right. Our elected leaders let Montanans know what they were doing before telling anyone in Idaho.

 What is particularly troubling is that they decided to hire the lawyer after our very competent Attorney Generals Office had already studied case law and offered advice.

 Consider for a moment that Idaho is already paying $10 million a year in private attorney fees. Our Attorney General Lawrence Wasden has said that we can save much of that expense by going through his office, which is exactly why we have an Attorney General.

 Lawerence Denney has a history of spending public dollars on private lawyers when hes looking for a specific outcome. He sued the state of Idaho to close the Republican Primary elections. The lawyer who pushed the lawsuit, Christ Troupis, was paid $100,000 in taxpayer dollars. When Denney didnt like the fair and independent work of the Redistricting Commission, he and Troupis sued, and failed, in the Idaho Supreme Court. Had Denney prevailed Troupis would have again been paid with taxpayer dollars.

 Now, with the federal lands committee, we again have Denney using taxpayer dollars to shop around for an attorney who will give him the opinion he wants.

 Another troubling aspect of this incident is the fact that the overwhelming amount of evidence gathered by the committees work over the past 1 ½ years is that there is no legal standing for the state to take ownership or control of federally administered public lands. Indeed, even if such a thing were legal or likely, Idaho lacks the budget to manage those lands.

 Idahoans do not want their public lands threatened. We value our public lands for fishing, hunting, and for the resources that we can take from them. We want the legacy of these lands passed down for generations. We want Idaho to always have clean air and clean water.

 I am disappointed by what Mr. Denney and Mr. Winder have done as co-chairs of this committee. This is the kind of behind-closed-doors, costly leadership that Idaho cannot afford.


Please keep it civil. Don't post comments that are obscene, defamatory, threatening, off-topic, an infringement of copyright or an invasion of privacy. Read our forum standards and community guidelines.

You must be logged in to post comments. Please log in here or click the comment box below for options.

comments powered by Disqus
« Back to Eye On Boise

Get blog updates by email

About this blog

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

Latest comments »

Read all the posts from recent conversations on Eye On Boise.

Search this blog
Subscribe to this blog
ADVERTISEMENT
Advertise Here