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Posts tagged: John McGee

McGee affair bleeds into Senate leadership fight

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― Former Republican Sen. John McGee's Senate exit is bleeding into a fight over leadership of the chamber's dominant GOP faction for 2013. Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis is being challenged by Sen. Dean Mortimer for the No. 2 position in Wednesday's secret vote. The two Idaho Falls lawmakers would seem natural allies. However, the Idaho Statesman reports dissatisfaction in the caucus over Davis' handling of the McGee affair. Davis remained a McGee ally, despite the Caldwell lawmaker's 2011 drunken-driving conviction. Meanwhile, Mortimer was among nine senators who said publicly they tried to oust McGee as majority caucus chair in a closed-door vote in January ― just weeks before sexual-harassment allegations ended McGee's career.

Davis declined comment to The Associated Press on Saturday; Mortimer couldn't be reached. There are two other leadership races in the Senate. Curt McKenzie of Nampa is challenging Assistant Majority Leader Chuck Winder of Boise, and Steve Bair of Blackfoot takes on Majority Caucus Leader Russ Fulcher of Meridian, who was elected to the leadership post when McGee quit in February.
  

Documents describe McGee’s conduct in sexual harassment case

Documents obtained by the Associated Press reveal the most detail to date about the conduct of former state Sen. John McGee, R-Caldwell, in the sexual harassment case that led to his resignation from the Senate. They include descriptions of McGee engaging in sexually inappropriate behavior in his Capitol office and pressing a young female staffer for sex. Click below for the full report from AP reporter John Miller. McGee resigned from office rather than face a full ethics inquiry; the case also was referred to law enforcement, and he served jail time after a conviction for disturbing the peace of a person, a misdemeanor. McGee apologized in court at his sentencing hearing on Aug. 21.

McGee gets five days off for good behavior, will be released from jail Sat.

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― Former Republican Sen. John McGee is due to get out of jail Saturday, five days before his originally-scheduled release date. McGee had been sentenced Aug. 21 to at least 44 days behind bars. That's after pleading guilty to charges linked to allegations of sexual harassment levied against him by a Senate staffer. But Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney's office wrote to 4th District Court Magistrate James Cawthon this month, requesting McGee's early release. Cawthon agreed. Jailers say McGee behaved and completed tasks in an orderly and peaceable manner. Idaho prison inmates must serve fixed sentences and haven't received “good time” credit since the 1980s. But the state allows those serving time in county jails like McGee to have their detention reduced by five days for every month of their sentences. Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

In court, new details emerge about downfall of once-rising GOP star in Senate

During former Sen. John McGee's sentencing hearing today, new details emerged on the sexual harassment allegations that led to McGee's resignation from the Idaho Senate. Asked what happened, McGee told 4th District Magistrate Judge James Cawthon, “Your honor, on Feb. 7, I acted inappropriately and I used language that I should not have used, and I conducted myself in a way, your honor, that was offensive, and I'm guilty of this offense.” The charge against McGee was disturbing the peace of a person.

But Ada County deputy prosecutor Jean Fisher said it went beyond that. The victim was a 25-year-old woman who worked for the Senate in 2011, then returned for the 2012 session. “The job for her, as you can imagine, was very exciting, a unique opportunity,” Fisher said. “It was a great honor for her.” But when the woman returned for the 2012 session, she found McGee, who in the interim had been convicted of DUI in a bizarre Father's Day incident, “mercurial,” subject to “mood swings,” and “acting sexually inappropriately around her.” At one point, Fisher told the court, McGee “called her into his office, locked the door and demanded that she engage in graphic sexual conduct.” The woman escaped. She went home that day and told her mother.

“Co-workers noted her declining demeanor and asked what was wrong,” Fisher said. The victim didn't want to report McGee. “She believed that her job was on the line,” Fisher said. “She and her friend attempted to isolate the victim from Sen. McGee,” in part by moving other workers into the workplace. But, Fisher said, “The senator isolated her again and repeated the barrage of disturbing and offensive sexual innuendo.” At that point, the friend reported the situation to a supervisor, and an investigation was launched, leading eventually to a criminal charge against McGee of misdemeanor disturbing the peace.

Fisher said the victim just wants the whole thing over. “She is so ready to move on and be done with this process that has been a horrible disruption in her life,” she told the court.

Scott McKay, attorney for McGee, said his client disputes some of Fisher's allegations. “He admits that on Feb. 7 he committed the crime of disturbing the peace,” McKay told the court.

McGee made this statement to the court: “Your honor, I accept responsibility for my actions.” Then he paused before continuing. “Serving in the Idaho Senate has been a great privilege, but with that privilege comes responsibility, and over the last year I did not live up to that privilege. And I'm sorry for that. I apologize.”

Judge sends former Sen. McGee directly to jail, revokes withheld judgment

An Ada County judge today sent former Idaho Sen. John McGee straight to jail, revoking his withheld judgment for a 2011 DUI and imposing another six-month jail term for a disturbing the peace charge related to allegations that McGee sexually harassed a Senate staffer. Magistrate Judge James Cawthon  declined to follow a plea agreement worked out between prosecutors and McGee's attorney that would have required McGee to serve just five days of jail time; instead, McGee, 39, must serve 90 days, the first half of that with no option for work-release or community service.

When McGee's attorney, Scott McKay, asked the judge if his client could have seven days to say goodbye to his family and turn himself in to serve the sentence, the judge responded, “The court will order the execution of the sentence at this time.” McGee was taken into custody at the close of his sentencing hearing. His wife, Hanna, who along with his parents, brother and church pastor accompanied McGee to the hearing, left the courtroom in tears.

Cawthon also sentenced McGee to three years of supervised probation, counseling, restitution and court costs. “What the court's going to impose here I think sends a message in terms of general deterrence,” Cawthon told McGee. “I hope it reflects … the serious nature of the offense.”

McGee was on probation for a 2011 DUI conviction - in which he received a withheld judgment and more serious charges of stealing and damaging a vehicle were dismissed - when he allegedly sexually harassed a 25-year-old female Senate staffer in February. After an investigation, a criminal charge, a misdemeanor charge of disturbing the peace, was filed against McGee, along with a charge of violating his probation. “This isn't just disturbing the peace,” the judge told him today. “You weren't playing music too loud. … Whatever this is, it's sexual in nature.” He said, “I don't know if you just lost your moral compass because of the positions you had.” He called it “amazing” that McGee would risk his marriage, his family and his career a second time while still on probation for the first crime.

He also said he sentenced McGee on the DUI just as he would any other first-time DUI offender. But he said, “This new offense happened … in your role as an Idaho state senator. It happened at the Capitol.” He said he was treating McGee like any other public servant who “misbehaves to the level of committing criminal offenses in the course of their public service.”

Prosecutors recommending five days jail, court costs, counseling for McGee

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― Authorities are recommending that former Republican Sen. John McGee serve five days in jail, pay $500 in court costs and undergo private counseling in exchange for pleading guilty to disturbing the peace. According to court documents filed by McGee's attorney, both sides are also recommending McGee pay $960 in restitution and attend classes about having healthy relationships and setting appropriate boundaries. The court documents say McGee intends to plead guilty Tuesday to the charge, which is linked to sexual harassment allegations that resulted in his February departure from the Idaho Legislature. At the time of the sexual misconduct investigation, McGee was on probation following a 2011 drunken driving conviction. McGee is also expected to plead guilty to violating the terms of his probation during the hearing Tuesday.

Click below for a full report from AP reporter Jessie Bonner.

Former Sen. McGee to be sentenced tomorrow in 4th District court

Former Idaho Sen. John McGee, R-Caldwell, is up for sentencing tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. in 4th District Court in Ada County; McGee is facing sentencing for a charge of disturbing the peace on Feb. 7, 2012, related to charges that he sexually harassed a Senate staffer; and violating his probation in connection with the same allegation. At the time, McGee was on probation for driving under the influence in June of 2011, for which he received a withheld judgment. An additional charge of driving/operating a vehicle without the owner's consent and causing more than $1,000 damage in the June 2011 incident was dismissed in exchange for his guilty plea on the DUI.

Court records show that McGee has completed 24 hours of community service; was fined $947; wrote a letter of apology to the victims in the driving case in July of 2011; was sentenced to one year of unsupervised probation; and was assigned 24 hours of alcohol/DUI education class. He also was sentenced to 180 days in jail with 175 suspended and received work release.

McGee, the former Republican caucus chairman, resigned from the Senate after the sexual harassment allegation surfaced. Prosecutors told 4th District Magistrate Judge James Cawthon in June that at the Aug. 21 sentencing, McGee will plead guilty to misdemeanor charges of disturbing the peace and probation violation.

Ex-Sen. McGee quits job after latest charges

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― Former Republican state Sen. John McGee quit his Idaho hospital job Friday after being charged with misdemeanor crimes linked to sexual harassment allegations. West Valley Medical Center in Caldwell confirmed that McGee had resigned as marketing director and spokesman, a role in which he was often the public face of the facility. The hospital said the departure of McGee, 39, will help avoid distractions linked to his unfolding legal travails. Click below for more.

McGee to plead guilty to new charges

Former Idaho Sen. John McGee will plead guilty in August to new charges of disturbing the peace and violating probation that are connected to a sexual harassment investigation, the Idaho Statesman reported this afternoon, citing court documents. The newspaper reported that in February, McGee had become “sexually provocative” toward a female Senate staffer, who first told only her mother what had occurred, but later told other employees after they noticed she was “unhappy, tearful and crying often.” You can read the Statesman's full report here.

McGee, R-Caldwell, who was Senate majority caucus chairman, resigned from the Senate Feb. 22 rather than face an ethics probe over the harassment allegations. The criminal charges, both misdemeanors, were announced yesterday after a months-long investigation.

McGee arrested, released on bond

Former Idaho Sen. John McGee, R-Caldwell, was arrested last night on misdemeanor charges of disturbing the peace and violating his probation from his 2011 DUI conviction; McGee turned himself in after an arrest warrant was issued, and then was released on bond, $1,000 for each charge. He's due to appear in court on Aug. 21 on the charges. The disturbing the peace charge is the outcome of a months-long investigation into allegations that McGee sexually harassed a female Senate staffer; he resigned from the Senate on Feb. 22 rather than face an ethics probe over the charges. The complaint against McGee on that charge says he “used profane and offensive language and/or offensive conduct” in the presence of an unidentified person on Feb. 7. “The new charge is based on criminal conduct that occurred in the former senator's office during the 2012 legislative session,” Ada County Prosecutor Greg Bower said in a release. Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

Arrest warrant issued for former Sen. John McGee

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― Arrest warrants for former Idaho Republican state Sen. John McGee were issued after prosecutors charged him with misdemeanor disturbing the peace and violating probation terms for a 2011 DUI conviction. The warrants were issued Tuesday in 4th District Court against McGee, who resigned from the Idaho Senate in February amid allegations that he sexually harassed an employee. McGee didn't return a phone call Tuesday. According to the complaint, McGee is charged with disturbing the peace on Feb. 7. Prosecutors say he used profane and offensive language and/or offensive conduct in the presence of an unidentified victim during the 2012 Legislature. He's also charged violating his misdemeanor DUI probation. He was convicted last year after a drunken Father's Day incident in which he drove a stranger's car pulling a trailer, jacknifing it in a nearby yard. Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller; you can read the Ada County Prosecutor's office news release here.

McGee case still pending at Ada prosecutor’s office, could take ‘a while’

From the “whatever happened to” department of Eye on Boise, today we bring you: Whatever happened to the investigation into Sen. John McGee? And the answer is: It's still pending. McGee, R-Caldwell, the former Senate majority caucus chairman, resigned from the Idaho Senate on Feb. 22 amid charges of sexual harassment of a female Senate aide; the Idaho State Police investigated, and turned the case over to Ada County Prosecutor Greg Bower on April 13, who could decide to file criminal charges.

Asked today where the case stands, Chief Deputy Prosecutor Roger Bourne said, “It's still under advisement, we're still looking into it.” Asked if it's normal for such a case to take this long, Bourne said, “It's not like we have cases like this all the time that we have a history on, that I can tell you whether it's normal or not. We're looking into a number of things, and it's going to take us a while.” He added, “There's a number of variables, and we're looking at several things.”

ISP investigating whether McGee violated any criminal laws

Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden has reviewed the sexual harassment allegations against former Sen. John McGee, R-Caldwell, and handed the case over to the Idaho State Police. “He determined it was appropriate to provide to ISP,” said Attorney General's office spokesman Bob Cooper, who said Wasden met with ISP Director Col. Jerry Russell yesterday afternoon to hand over the case.

Asked the status of the matter at ISP, Russell said today, “ISP is currently conducting a preliminary investigation to determine if any criminal laws have been violated.”

McGee, 39, resigned from the Senate yesterday amid allegations of sexual harassment involving a female Senate staffer; he was the Senate Majority Caucus chairman, the fourth-highest leadership position in the Senate, and was a fourth-term Republican senator and former Transportation Committee chairman.

Dems: ‘Sobering, a sad day for the Senate’

Here's a link to the full story at spokesman.com on today's resignation of Senate Majority Caucus Chairman John McGee, in which AP reporter John Miller notes that McGee's resignation amid allegations of sexual harassment of a female Senate staffer capped a political free-fall that began last year with a drunken driving arrest.

Minority Democrats said they were informed of McGee's resignation Wednesday morning and were shocked by the news. “Whenever any of our members has this happen, it's sobering,” Sen. Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, told the Associated Press. “It's a sad day for the Senate.”  Meanwhile, the Idaho Democratic Party issued a statement saying it was “thankful” that McGee resigned today. Party Chairman Larry Grant said, “I am glad that GOP leadership has finally accepted that something must be done to turn around the culture that has rooted itself in the Statehouse.” You can read the party's full statement here.
  

The AP reports that McGee's sunny disposition and rapid rise into Senate leadership last year at the age of just 38 made him constant fodder for talk that he'd seek higher elected office; but that his departure from the Senate likely means any further political aspirations he had are over.
  

Hill: McGee hand-delivered his resignation letter this morning

Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill said on Saturday, Feb. 18, he and Majority Leader Bart Davis were notified of confidential allegations of sexual harassment against Sen. John McGee, R-Caldwell. “The Idaho Senate takes all allegations of sexual harassment seriously,” Hill said. “At leadership's request, the Senate secretary, throughout Monday, investigated and counseled the attache to report the claims of misconduct to Brent Hill. Monday afternoon the attache, together with the Senate secretary, met with the Pro Tem and majority leader to report the asserted misconduct.”

Hill said he immediately reassigned the Senate staffer “to another position within the Senate.” Hill said, “In this situation, my first priority is to ensure a safe, secure and professional work environment for Senate employees. My second priority is to protect the integrity and institution of the Idaho State Senate.”

Hill said McGee did not admit to any wrongdoing, but “informed leadership that he believed it was in the Senate's best interest for him to resign.” Hill said McGee hand-delivered his letter of resignation this morning. Hill urged people to respect the privacy of the Senate attache involved, who is on paid leave. “This is an extremely difficult time for her,” he said.

McGee responds…

After nine GOP senators issued a statement this afternoon saying they voted against Sen. John McGee keeping his leadership post during an earlier closed caucus, but were outvoted, McGee, R-Caldwell, issued this statement:

“No one is more disappointed by the mistake I made last June than me.
I am solely responsible for my actions. I am humbled daily by the
support I have received from my constituents, my colleagues and most
importantly my family. I look forward to now working with my
colleagues to address the important issues facing the citizens of the
state of Idaho.”
  

McGee retains GOP leadership post

Senate GOP Caucus Chairman John McGee, R-Caldwell, retained his leadership post today after a closed-door caucus in which GOP senators voted on whether or not to oust him after a bizarre drunken driving incident. It took nearly two hours, with the overlong caucus pushing back the Senate's plan to convene at 11:30 today to nearly noon. Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill said afterward, “I'm confident we came out united,” the AP reports. 

As he emerged from the caucus, McGee told reporters, “My actions on that night showed clearly a lack of judgment. I've been humbled by the support that the community has given me, and I'm particularly humbled by the support that the caucus has just shown me. I made mistakes, and I've paid the price for those mistakes, and every day now that I wake up, the first thing that I think of is how can I make this better. For the rest of my life I'll be working on making this better. … As difficult as the day has been, I'm very humbled and thankful to the caucus for their support.” KTVB-TV has the video posted here.

It's customary in the Senate for senators to introduce their guests who are in the gallery; just before adjournment today, McGee rose to acknowledge his wife and two young children in the gallery. “For some of you it's been a year since you've seen them; senator from 7, you've never seen them, perhaps,” he said with emotion. “My beautiful wife, Hanna. I've heard from the senator from 33 that once upon a time his mother was given the Mother of the Year award in the state of Idaho. Well, I don't know if I can formally submit this or not, Mr. President, but I would submit today the Mother of the Year and the Wife of the Year to my wife Hanna, and I thank her and my family for being very, very patient over the last several months, as I do all of you.” The Senate welcomed McGee's young family with a sturdy round of applause. She had arrived midway through the caucus, pushing the youngsters in a stroller, and waited for McGee in his office, which adjoins the caucus room.

McGee, 38, is a fourth-term senator and is the marketing director for a Canyon County hospital. Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

Per-diem dustup could prompt legislation

Here's a news item from the Associated Press:  BOISE, Idaho (AP) — An Idaho legislator says he'll introduce a measure in 2012 to prevent Boise-area lawmakers from boosting their state retirements with per diem payments. Rep. Dennis Lake of Blackfoot says it's unfair that local lawmakers can get more-generous pensions compared to out-of-town legislators for identical work. Three weeks ago, The Associated Press reported Canyon County Sens. John McGee and Curt McKenzie banked daily $122 payments for a second residence — even though McGee lived with his parents and McKenzie slept on an office couch. The AP also reported these payments count toward McGee's and McKenzie's pensions because their primary residences are within 50 miles of the Capitol. Meanwhile, Idaho's government payroll system doesn't count per diem toward retirement for lawmakers like Lake whose primary residences are more than 50 miles away.

Senator gets pay for extra residence for session, but sleeps at parents’ for free…

The Associated Press reports that Republican Sen. John McGee lives 26 miles from the Idaho Capitol but takes an extra per diem payment from taxpayers for a second residence that adds up to some $6,000 annually — even though he lives with his parents in their Boise home during the session. Another Republican, Sen. Curt McKenzie of Nampa, took extra per diem cash during the 2011 Legislature while sleeping on his small law firm's couch.

By taking the money, they're not just boosting their annual pay; they'll likely see higher pension payments when they retire. Click below to read the full story by AP reporter John Miller.

Sheriff’s reports reveal new details on McGee DUI arrest

Reports released today by the Canyon County Sheriff's Department reveal new details about state Sen. John McGee's Father's Day arrest for drunken driving and taking and jacknifing a stranger's vehicle, reports Dan Popkey; read his full report here in the Idaho Statesman. Among the new details: McGee's brother, Mark, who played in a golf tournament with him on June 18, said he was supposed to give McGee a ride home but couldn't find him; he reported that he called his brother about 10:15 p.m. and he responded he was “about a block away” from a house he was walking to; the brother then went searching for McGee unsuccessfully.

The reports also show that McGee's brown flipflops were found about a block away from the street where he was arrested, and that he told officers he'd had “three or four gin and tonics” after the golf tournament with the last one between 10 and 11 p.m.  He also told officers that he thought two others were driving him to Jackpot to gamble in the SUV in which he was found; he was found asleep in the back seat.
  

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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

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