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Idaho Tax Commission chairman resigns

Fri., Jan. 7, 2011, 2:34 p.m.

BOISE — Idaho Tax Commission Chairman Royce Chigbrow resigned Friday after employees at the agency said he intervened in tax cases involving clients of his son’s accounting firm as well as for a friend and political supporter.

Chigbrow told Gov. Butch Otter in a hand-delivered letter obtained by The Associated Press that he was resigning “effective immediately.”

Chigbrow, appointed by Otter in 2007, said in the letter that “unfortunately, and perhaps unfairly, I have become the issue.”

His resignation comes a day after House Speaker Lawerence Denney, a Republican from Midvale, said he expected an investigation into Chigbrow’s conduct.

Ada County Prosecutor Greg Bower was also looking into whether Chigbrow violated disclosure laws by providing confidential taxpayer information to somebody who wasn’t entitled to it.

Otter’s office didn’t immediately comment on the resignation.

Tax Commission employees say Chigbrow sought to assist Benton “Skip” Hofferber, an Idaho businessman who supported Chigbrow’s unsuccessful 2006 run for state controller. Hofferber is fighting with his former employer, Boise Food Service, after being fired in October 2009.

Employees say Chigbrow summoned them to his office to provide details of collection actions against the company to Hofferber, though Hofferber wasn’t entitled to it; inappropriately handled checks he’d received from his friend at a private dining club in Boise, resulting in a Boise Police investigation; and sought to block a refund last May, after the company brought its tax payments current.

The Tax Commission employees also say the chairman intervened in early 2010 on behalf of a client of his son’s Boise-based accounting firm to reduce a payment plan to remedy delinquent taxes, despite objections of agency staff.

The governor and Chigbrow are longtime Republican allies: Chigbrow has served as Otter’s campaign treasurer; now, the chairman’s son, Cordell Chigbrow, is Otter’s gubernatorial campaign treasurer.

“Our system of taxation is not perfect, but I tried to do my best on behalf of every Idahoan during my tenure, while treating taxpayers with the respect, fairness and dignity they deserve,” Chigbrow told Otter in his resignation letter.

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