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Eye On Boise

Senate ethics debate: ‘People should not be exposed to public embarrassment’

Among the debate in the Senate on proposed new Senate ethics rules:

Sen. Jim Rice, R-Caldwell, said, "People should not be exposed to public embarrassment or ridicule when there is no legal or factual basis for the allegations. .... This bill does strengthen the ethics rules of the Senate. I've looked at the rules. I want to know. I want to be my best self because of this institution, and I think we need to preserve and protect the institution of the Senate by making sure that we handle all ethics complaints in a very appropriate manner and we make sure that each of us lives up to the standards that are set for the Senate and that are expected by the people of the state of Idaho."

Sen. Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise: "In this session, conducted in private, three senators can block the ability for an ethics complaint to proceed. On a party-line vote, one party, in darkness, can squash an ethics complaint. That is not a strengthening of our ethics rules. That is a weakening of our ethics rule. That is a way to ensure that one party can ensure that the other party is not capable of bringing forth a complaint."

Sen. Dan Schmidt, D-Moscow: "I appreciate that this has been brought forward, and we've had issues that we need to address. I think we need to step back a little bit and think about some of the assumptions that we're making. And some of the assumptions we're making in this rule, in this change, are built into this very building that we function in. This is a partisan body. The assumption that three and three removes partisanship is, it's false, it can't happen. To remove partisanship from an ethics review, it has to step outside of this body."

Sen. JIm Hammond, R-Coeur d'Alene: "We saw some problems. There was a genuine effort to make some improvements. ... Let's just not continue to beat this dead horse, come on. We're genuinely trying to make some improvements, let's make these improvements. Next year ... if you want to make further improvements, great."

Sen. Diane Bilyeu, D-Pocatello: In drafting the rules, "You all in the majority party made them behind closed doors, and we were not there."

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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