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State Clears Latah Sheriff Of Politicking Official Says ‘True Story’ Mailing Was Informational, Not Political

Wed., Dec. 27, 1995

The attorney general’s office has decided Latah County Sheriff Joe Overstreet didn’t violate campaign laws when he sent out information packets last month at county expense.

In a letter responding to a question from Latah County commissioners, a deputy attorney general said it appears the material Overstreet mailed is not political.But Commissioner Shirley Greene was disappointed.

“It is my opinion that the printing and mailing of the material enclosed with your letter is not an unlawful use of public property. It could be argued that this material is merely providing the citizens with information about what goes on at the sheriff’s office from the sheriff’s point of view,” wrote Deputy Attorney General William von Tagen.

Just before Thanksgiving, commissioners had asked an opinion regarding Overstreet’s mailing, which included a cover letter and two articles about the sheriff’s salaries and budgetary philosophies.

“In (an) attempt to get out the true story on the operation of your sheriff’s office, I am writing a monthly series titled, “The Point of the Badge,” the cover letter said.

The articles explain Overstreet’s reasons for salary changes he made when he first took office.

They also criticize county commissioners for failing to give him the money he needs to give raises to all his employees.

Overstreet also explained how he handles expenses in his office.

“Clearly, if this ‘newsletter’ stated ‘re-elect Sheriff Overstreet’ or was being used as a platform to argue campaign issues, this would be an improper use of public resources,” von Tagen’s letter said.

According to Lt. Tom Idol, Overstreet is not speaking with anyone and would respond to questions in writing.

The sheriff could not be reached for comment.

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