October 25, 1997 in Idaho

Ethics Panel Picks Retired Chief Justice Special Committee Will Develop Recommendations For Lawmakers

Associated Press

Charles McDevitt, who retired Sept. 1 after serving as chief justice of the Idaho Supreme Court, has been selected as the fifth member of a high-level panel studying ethics in government, campaign finances and lobbyists.

The last Legislature created the new Special Committee on Government, designed to come up with recommendations to curb the growing influence of campaign contributions, the role of lobbyists and the influence they carry.

It’s a high-powered panel.

Former Attorney General Jim Jones was elected by the other members as chairman. The four members in a telephone conference call Friday afternoon picked McDevitt as the fifth member.

Former Gov. Cecil Andrus is on the panel, along with former state Rep. Dean Haagenson of Coeur d’Alene and retired District Judge John Bengtson of Moscow.

The first formal session will be Nov. 14 at the Statehouse.

The organizational meeting was lighthearted.

After McDevitt was picked as the fifth member of the panel, Bengtson quipped, “Now I’ll be under his thumb again.”

Jones laughed after Andrus got the others to vote him in as permanent chairman.

“We have you outvoted. Now you know how I felt on the state Land Board,” Andrus told Jones.

The legislation authorizing the committee noted that it is “essential in a democracy that the government operate in an environment of the trust and confidence of the people.”

The resolution noted that people are concerned about the influence that may be wielded as a result of campaign contributions and the power over legislation that lobbyists can get.

“The essential role of money in campaigns and lobbyists’ activities may result in an appearance of ethical impropriety which can compromise public confidence in government,” the resolution said.

The panel will come up with recommendations to the next Legislature.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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