The simmering anti-government campaign being waged for the past 2-1/2 years by the Idaho Sovereignty Association became enough of a concern last year to convince state Attorney General Alan Lance and one of his top deputies to arm themselves.
According to campaign finance disclosure reports, Lance used $401.02 to buy a .357-caliber Magnum in late March 1996.
“That was at the time when I was under a death warrant from the common law courts,” said Lance, who has been a leader in the crusade to check the activities of Idaho Sovereignty Association founder Gary DeMott and his allies.
Amid increasing concern at the time about campaign finance reform, Lance said, he was urged by his advisers to pay for the pistol out of his own pocket.
“But I told them I wouldn’t mind seeing the expense show up on my campaign report to show that I was not about to be intimidated,” Lance said Thursday.
He said he was trained to use the gun at the Law Enforcement Department’s firing range immediately after he had obtained it.
Deputy Chief of Staff Lawrence Wasden, who also was placed under a death warrant by the group, bought a gun with his own money, Lance said. Wasden is the attorney general’s resident expert on anti-government groups.
Lance said he has been operating on the belief that his campaign funds should be used to pay for anything that is not directly required for the fundamental operation of his office.
Soon after Lance bought the gun, DeMott announced he and his supporters would begin arresting public officials throughout the state in the group’s crusade to regain the constitutional rights it says have been lost in the federal and state court systems.
But the arrests never materialized.
In addition to lodging charges against public officials through the Idaho Sovereignty Association’s Courts of Justice, DeMott and his supporters also were filing liens against the property of various officials, including Lance, for millions of dollars they claim are due because of the officials’ allegedly unconstitutional activities. In some cases, DeMott has accused them of grand theft.