Bonner County Prosecutor Louis Marshall says he referred the case of alleged harassment of a Democratic Party field organizer by supporters of Rep. Heather Scott to the Idaho Attorney General’s office because of a possible conflict of interest for his office in looking into the matter. Marshall said today that the office contacted him about the case after receiving a complaint from the chairman of the Idaho Democratic Party, who also suggested he and the local sheriff, both Republicans, might have a conflict of interest in investigating the case.
“I hadn’t seen any reports to that point,” Marshall said. “And so I did a little inquiry into it, and sure enough, the sheriff’s office had some reports. … So I did go ahead and read those.” Marshall said he personally knows the sheriff’s deputy who responded to organizer’s call complaining that people had shown up late at night outside a rural home where he was staying with a local family and photographed the home and car license plates. “His wife works for me, she’s one of my victim advocates,” Marshall said. “So there’s a lot of things that are pretty close here. It could be viewed as impropriety, that we’re too close to the action here. So that’s the reason why I was totally OK with the Attorney General taking a look at it.”
He added, “It involves some voting issues, obviously, which are a little bit different than typical, standard, everyday crimes.” You can see the official referral form here.
The 21-year-old party organizer filed reports with both the Sandpoint Police and the Bonner County Sheriff’s Department about people wearing Scott campaign hats allegedly stalking and harassing him, including an incident in which one accosted him at a Sandpoint Safeway store and told him he was being watched, and another in which he emerged from his Sandpoint office to find several of them leaning against his car.
The October incidents followed an August one – not reported to the police – in which the 90-year-old mother-in-law of Scott’s Democratic challenger, Kate McAlister, was accosted by a man in a Scott hat, with a gun on his hip, who complained about the woman’s “Kate” bumper sticker as she loaded her groceries into her car outside Safeway.
Marshall said, “Obviously we don’t want people out harassing our elderly population.”
He added, “Now Heather says explicitly that she has nothing to do with this, and that she has not sent these people out to do that.”
Scott, R-Blanchard, who is seeking a second House term, has declined to comment, writing in an email today, “My comment would be that these are claims not ‘charges’ as you are reporting.”
Marshall said the Attorney General’s office will be sending an investigator up to the area next week. Brian Kane, deputy attorney general, said he couldn’t confirm or deny that.
“It’s been referred to us by the county prosecutor and we have it under review,” he said.
Marshall said, “We’ll absolutely cooperate in any way.”
He also urged anyone with concerns about voter harassment or related issues to contact his office; he said thus far, no one has, including the party organizer and party officials. “My doors are wide open,” he said. “If people want to come in and make a complaint … we would take any of these matters seriously.”