The Latah County Commission is welcoming an independent investigation into management of county property, particularly after a sheriff’s lieutenant was found using a county vehicle to attend a Republican political gathering.
At the direction of outgoing Sheriff Joe Overstreet, the commission on Wednesday agreed to have the police in either Moscow or Lewiston or the sheriff in Whitman County, Wash., conduct the inquiry.
The decision was spurred by Commissioner Shirley Greene’s surprise at seeing Lt. Tom Idol driving one of the sheriff’s department’s new Jeep Cherokees at the state GOP convention in Nampa last weekend.
“I thought it was very inappropriate,” Greene said, and Commissioner Tom Spangler called it unethical.
Kenny Piel, the Republican nominee for sheriff, also saw Idol using the Jeep at the political gathering.
“As a citizen, I must seriously question what possible benefit there might be to the county to have Idol racking up miles on those new cars while the deputies are using questionably unsafe patrol cars,” Piel said.
Idol contends he used the sheriff’s vehicle for official county business.
Two of the new Jeeps are in Boise being equipped with parts salvaged from an older sheriff’s vehicle. Idol said he drove down to attend the convention and to pick up the older vehicle. His wife was to drive one of the other Jeeps back to Moscow, he said.
“It was not intentional on my part,” Idol said. Stopping at the convention while picking up the other county vehicle, he admitted, may have given the appearance that he was using the Jeep for his personal use.
The commissioners have not indicated whether they are contemplating any disciplinary action in the matter.