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An attorney wrote that "time is of the essence" as the commissioners are afraid to perform official duties under the threat of criminal prosecution, leaving important functions of county government in limbo and threatening "catastrophic harm to the people of Stevens County."
Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen last week said the commissioners – Steve Parker, Wes McCart and Don Dashiell – would be committing a gross misdemeanor if they continue conducting county business. On Monday, Rasmussen sent a letter to all county employees declaring "the board of county commissioners no longer has legal authority." The commissioners and their attorneys have disputed that.
Two candidates expressed uncertainty about the path to the November general election, only 10 weeks away. While the county prosecutor asserts that all three commissioners have been legally ejected from office after a judge's ruling, county and state officials are mulling whether the local Republican Party and the governor must start a process to appoint short-term replacements.
The commissioners' attorney, meanwhile, disputes that they must be ejected from office and says the prosecutor has threatened to have the commissioners arrested if they continue showing up for work.
A judge on Friday ruled the commissioners aren’t entitled to a lawyer at public expense. The judge also declined to dismiss the suit, in which Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen accuses the commissioners of misspending more than $121,000 from a fund dedicated to fighting homelessness.
Any Stevens County Republicans who ever thought about running for local office ought to start talking to neighbors and preparing to launch a campaign. The county’s three commissioners deserve to be replaced as their terms expire, but that can only happen if they don’t run or credible challengers file. For those who haven’t been following the goings-on in Stevens County that have landed the commissioners in court, here’s a quick recap. (Check out Spokesman-Review reporter Chad Sokol’s excellent coverage for a much more thorough telling.)
In lawsuits brought by the county prosecutor, the commissioners – Wes McCart, Don Dashiell and Steve Parker – are accused of misspending more than $121,000 from a public fund dedicated to fighting homelessness.
A judge will decide Thursday whether the commissioners erred by authorizing the county to cover their legal expenses. In lawsuits started by the county prosecutor, the commissioners are accused of misspending more than $121,000 from a public fund dedicated to fighting homelessness.
Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen started two lawsuits against the commissioners following a February report by the state auditor’s office, which found they had made an “unallowable gift of public funds.”
The state auditor’s office published its findings in a report on Feb. 21, saying the flood payment constituted an “unallowable gift of public funds” and the other payment relied on a misinterpretation of the state constitution.