Latest from The Spokesman-Review
If he had it to do all over again, Sen. Monty Pearce, R-New Plymouth, said he would disclose earlier that he had leased the rights to drill for oil and gas on his land. After the Senate Ethics Committee voted 6-0 Wednesday to dismiss allegations that he failed to properly disclose a potential conflict of interest, Pearce said he wants to see clear ethics rules for all senators to follow. “Our system on the Senate side is a broken system,” Pearce said. “That is why I offer a hand of friendship to my colleagues, even those who made baseless charges against me, and ask that we continually work to improve our standards and guidelines.” Pearce said he has already talked to several senators about pushing disclosure rules for the Senate this year/Rocky Barker, Idaho Statesman. More here.
Question: Do you agree with Pearce that the ethics system of the Idaho Legislature is broken?
Sen. Jim Hammond, R-Coeur d'Alene, moved to dismiss the ethics charges against Senate Resources Chairman Monty Pearce. “In terms of public perception, he would've been well-served to disclose in committee,” Hammond said. “That would have helped the situation. But what I don't want to do is get us in a situation where when we pass a budget for education, I've got to disclose because my children or my grandchildren go to school in the state of Idaho. Or when we pass the higher education budget, I've got to disclose because my wife is an employee of Lewis-Clark State college. There is a huge disconnect, and that's a huge class of people who benefit from that budget. Do we need to disclose for every one of those? I don't think so”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.
On the same day state Sen. Monty Pearce (pictured), R-New Plymouth, defended himself against charges of lining his pockets in office, the state got a near-failing score on a national measure of corruption. Think there's a connection? Pearce, a 14-year legislative veteran, is at the vortex of efforts to open Idaho to oil and natural gas development. As chairman of the Senate Resources and Conservation Committee, Pearce oversaw Senate passage of bills that updated the state's oil and gas regulatory framework - without which the fledgling industry in Pearce's backyard would be stalled. The panel also refused to impose more stringent controls on fracking and endorsed stripping counties and cities of their ability to stop or influence oil and gas development in their jurisdictions. All that time, Pearce was sitting on a secret: On Nov. 4, he signed a lease with Snake River Oil and Gas, making him a partner with one of the big players behind the legislation/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here.
Question: Does Idaho deserve a D-minus for government corruption risk?
The Idaho Senate has convened its Ethics Committee this morning, for the first time in seven years, to review a conflict-of-interest complaint against Senate Resources Chairman Monty Pearce (pictured), R-New Plymouth. Pearce arrived at the meeting with attorney Chuck Peterson, one of the state’s leading criminal defense attorneys. Peterson defended Randy Weaver in the Ruby Ridge case; was part of the team defending Sami al-Hussayen against terrorism charges and defended 14-year-old Zachary Neagle on charges of murdering his father. Sen. Dean Mortimer, R-Idaho Falls, Ethics Committee chairman announced that as required by Senate rule, he has notified Pearce in writing of the ethics complaint against him, for failing to disclose a conflict of interest through 22 votes in committee and in the full Senate on oil and gas drilling legislation/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.
Question: Any prediction on the outcome?
On 21 occasions, Sen. Monty Pearce, R-New Plymouth, voted on oil and gas legislation. On Wednesday, before the 22nd vote, Pearce disclosed that an oil company has leased drilling rights on his property. Democrats have requested an ethics committee review, and say Pearce should be removed as chairman of the Senate Resources and Environment Committee. Pearce tells the Associated Press that he has followed the spirit and the letter of ethics rules, and says he is the victim of a political witch hunt. Either way, this fiasco reveals yet another hole in the Legislature’s lax ethics guidelines. First off, I’m not buying Pearce’s claim that he met the spirit of ethics rules/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here.
Question: Now don't you wish the Legislature had followed through on its promise to fix the ethics law?
Sen. Monty Pearce, R-New Plymouth, the subject of an ethics inquiry in the Senate over failing to disclose a conflict of interest through numerous committee and full Senate votes on oil and gas rules and legislation, tells the Associated Press he did nothing wrong, pointing out that he did disclose during Senate-floor debate on Wednesday over House Bill 464 that he had leases dating back to the 1980s for oil and gas. Pearce's latest leases in western Idaho are to Snake River Oil and Gas, one of the main companies behind the 2012 legislation/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.
Question: Of course this is political. But does that mean it isn't valid, too?
Idaho's Senate minority leadership has filed an ethics complaint against Senate Resources Chairman Monty Pearce (pictured), R-New Plymouth, alleging that he voted 22 times on oil and gas issues before finally disclosing, before the Senate's final vote on HB 464, that he had a conflict of interest in that he had oil and gas leases on his land in Payette County. Senate ethics rules permit senators to vote despite a conflict, after having disclosed it. Pearce told Idaho Statesman reporter Rocky Barker today that he had simply not thought about the potential conflict until the final vote, and had held the leases since the 1980s. “I vote on an animal cruelty bill and I have animals,” he told Barker. “I vote on water rights and I’ve got water rights”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.
Question: What chance does an ethics complain from Democrats have to get traction in the Idaho Legislature — slim or none?