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Ethics and Conflict of Interest Complaints Brought Against Idaho Senator Todd Lakey by Constituents

By • January 7, 2024

Senator Todd Lakey (R-District 23) is facing a conflict-of-interest complaint, a request to the Idaho Senate Pro Tempore for a possible Senate ethics investigation, and an Idaho State Bar Association grievance from people who reside in the legislative district he represents.

Legislative district 23 encompasses southern Canyon County, southern Ada County, and all of Owyhee County. Senator Lakey is the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary and Rules Committee and a member of the Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee.

Senator Lakey’s legislative bio includes,

“B.S. in international business, Brigham Young University; Juris Doctorate, Lewis and Clark Northwestern School of Law; Canyon County deputy prosecutor 1993-1999; Canyon County commissioner 1999-2004; owner, Borton-Lakey Law Office; past president Idaho Association of Commissioners and Clerks; previous chairman Community Planning Association of SW Idaho; Officer U.S. Army Reserve, retired; spouse: Jan; five children, five grandchildren.”

The issue in question is whether it is a conflict of interest for Lakey, a licensed Idaho attorney, to represent a developer, IMH Boise Heritage, LLC, in their proposal for a 100-home project called Lago Vista Estates. The housing development would be built within legislative district 23. A group of Canyon County residents are opposed to the project and presented this letter to Lakey in August 2023 during a fire district meeting regarding the proposed subdivision. It says, in part,

“It has come to our attention that you intend to represent the interests of IMH in this matter and will be paid as an attorney to do so. We believe this is a direct conflict of interest as a large number of your constituents who elected you to represent them are opposed to any subdivision development at this time due to the lack of definitive numbers of water availability and the lack of public safety. While the legislative session is part-time, your duty to your constituents is year-round, ex., drafting of bills, meetings with constituents, professional conduct, etc.”

The letter goes on to say that a conversation took place with Idaho Attorney General Raul Labrador’s office. According to the letter,

“Having a conversation with a representative from the Attorney General’s office, they believe a conflict exists and recommended that we request that you recuse yourself from representing this developer on this matter. Intervention by the AG’s office is not applicable as it appears your actions are not a criminal action, but rather a civil action. Of course, representation outside of your constituent district is acceptable. Additionally, it was suggested that a complaint with the Idaho Bar Association be submitted for further investigation into your ethical conduct and conflict of interest.”

The letter is signed by “Your Concerned Constituents and Citizens of Canyon County, Idaho.”


Another letter sent to Idaho Senate Pro Tempore Chuck Winder (R-District 20) and the Idaho State Bar Association in November 2023 explains,

“We, as citizens, cannot enlist the assistance of Mr. Lakey for changes to laws because he cannot choose between his livelihood and his constituents, or if he does, it will be for a financial decision as a private practice attorney and not as a senator. Citizens in our district want to change several laws and cannot ask for his assistance based on his attorney client base. That is a conflict. To choose a developer over his constituents, especially while at the same meeting wherein we were not in agreement with the annexation he was proposing for his developer client, is an ethical issue and a conflict of interest.”

The letter concludes with a list of requests and is signed by Kim Yanecko.

  1. An investigation into the actions of Mr. Lakey be conducted by the State Affairs/Ethical Conduct Committee to determine whether an ethical violation and conflict of interest occurred;

  2. An investigation into the actions of Mr. Lakey be conducted by the Bar Association to determine whether an ethical violation and conflict of interest occurred; and

  3. A change to the laws to make it clear this conduct is in fact a violation with appropriate disciplinary action to deter others from engaging in the same or similar conduct.

    1. No representation of a developer/builder shall occur within the district, city, county, or other entity or agency where that legislator, commissioner, or council member represents or sits on a board or council.
  4. Committees created to investigate these matters in either state affairs or the bar association shall include at least one member of the public who is not or has not been elected to or affiliated with by way of dues or otherwise.

In correspondence to The Idaho Dispatch, Kim Yanecko said,

“Clearly the law is written to benefit those in positions of power from the state to municipalities. How does a citizen get the law changed when those benefitting are the ones who approve or deny any proposed changes? In our case, we are represented by a Senator who we cannot go to for assistance, with concerns and/or deficits disclosures in laws.”

The Idaho Dispatch has asked Senator Todd Lakey for comment on this matter. This article will be updated if a response or additional information is received.

Feature photo courtesy of

Amazon Outlet

Tags: Attorney General Raul Labrador, Canyon County, Chuck Winder, Conflict of Interest, Ethics Complaint, Idaho Senate, Idaho State Bar Association, IMH Boise Heritage LLC, Kim Yanecko, Todd Lakey

15 thoughts on “Ethics and Conflict of Interest Complaints Brought Against Idaho Senator Todd Lakey by Constituents

  1. This seems to be the norm for lawyers; represent both sides of an issue so no matter what side wins the lawyer will always win and get paid. It appears to me the only way to prevent thins kind of thing from happening is to not elect lawyers!!!

  2. Will anything happen to Lakey? I seriously doubt it. He is too entrenched in the system and it will protect him at the expense of his constituents.

  3. Clearly a conflict of interest and thereby reveals Senator Lakey is incapable of clear and ethical judgment. He has by his actions disqualified himself as a representative of the people.

  4. And yet you folks seem surprised at this? Amazing, since Senator Lakey wrote a bill a couple of years ago rescinding the prior legislation creating the emission testing program in Ada & Canyon Counties. So what, you might say? Well, happens that, at that exact time, Senator Lakey was under contract with the Ada County Air Quality Board as their attorney and had been for years. Was this a conflict of interest? Oh, heck yea! Did anyone really care? Oh, heck NO! Senator Lakey even sat in on Board meetings with members of DEQ, EPA and others at which questions were asked regarding spikes of Carbon Monoxide in Ada County and how they were handed. If you listen to the 11/17/2021 minutes of the AQB meeting you will hear the following answer…..”We just move the monitors”. How do I know this? I was the director of the AQB and I hired Mr Lakey at the request of the board. I wasn’t at the board meeting on the 21st as I’d beeen fired by that time. Many station owners came to me with the same story so I have no reason not to believe them. So, which do I consider the more egregious conflict of interest? The AQB matter, of course. I don’t expect anyone to file a complaint about this tidbit, though because so many of you may have thought, for whatever reason, that emission testing was evil and government outreach. Just an FYI, even the EPA knew about this conflict and did nothing during the period of time the public input was allowed prior to this bill going into effect. It seems though, these days, that ethical behaviour and honest dealings are only the case when it agrees with our own personal agenda(s).

    1. It sounds like you’re saying we should ignore this scandal because we missed the last one. We honestly can’t keep up with all the corruption.

  5. They should not be asking him to step down as attorney for the developer, they should be demanding he step down as Senator.

  6. So a series of questions:
    1) Are Idaho Legislators a part-time body? Answer: yes. They certainly aren’t paid enough to support themselves for a full year on the existing salaries and IMHO that’s how it should be. That being the case, do the individual legislators have an interest in maintaining their families with a job they can perform while not in legislative sessions? Seems to me they do.
    2) The complaint was filed by members opposed to the development effort. So not really an unbiased group here.
    3) The complaint was supported by Chuck Winder – not known as someone particularly supportive of the Constitution (national or Idaho) – and much more well known as someone who goes after political opponents personally. My red flag-o-meter went up seeing this…
    4) Attorneys are obligated to advocate for their client to the best of their ability. Would it similarly be a “conflict of interest” if the complainers here hired a separate attorney who also happened to be a State Legislator?
    5) Does the State Senator sit on the zoning board or approval board for the subdivision? If not, where precisely is the conflict of interest? Is the Senator being paid on the side if the deal goes through separate and apart from standard attorney fees? If so, that would constitute an illegal emolument and would certainly be cause for legal action.

    I’m looking at this and seeing a lot of griping, but not a lot of legitimate complaints here.

    1. You must’ve missed that tidbit concerning writing a bill to eliminate a program he was contractually obligated to represent the best interests for. That, in many states, isn’t just a conflict of interest, but a crime.

    2. If you’ll notice, I didn’t say Lakey couldn’t earn a living in his chosen profession, I said to avoid the conflict he must represent developers outside of his district. It is clear constituents oppose development and while some may support it, representing people outside of his district allows him not to choose sides.
      As for the part-time legislature, they represent, meet with, appear on behalf of constituents during the entire course of their public service, year-round.
      While in this session, Mr. Lakey, on January 16, 2024 appeared before the Canyon County BOCC to present an ordinance language change to add machine shops in residential zoning that constituents opposed and wore his Senator pin causing Commissioner Van Beek to address him as senator. He is using his status to his advantage while later claiming to be there in an attorney capacity only for his client. So which is it, is he appearing on behalf of a client or is he generally presenting a change to an ordinance? Recall I said this was in this current session, in fact, at 1:30p, the middle of the day while he is representing us, his constituents.
      And while we are at it, consider that the hearing was published in a newspaper but not posted so people across the county could learn about it unless they read a paper, most do not, or check the BOCC agenda daily, most do not.
      In addition to conflicts allowed, we have a problem with our governing bodies wanting to limit public access and testimony at these hearings and/or meetings wherein we will definitely be impacted. I could go on…

  7. One aspect that I have noticed as a matter of consistency, is that the RINO legislators all seem to have real estate interests. They all are involved in this accelerated development process at some point or another. They have bought into the notion that population growth equals success and that maintaining what economy you already have has no merit. They feel we have to invite as many people from outside the native labor force as fast as possible, regardless of the inflation of costs that result. They make themselves and their buddies rich, which the devaluations of the local labor dollar diminish, on top of the national dollar being destroyed by the likes of the Federal Reserve et al. They are lured by the promises of liberal minded corporations that rubberstamp Wokeness. Lakey isn’t alone, he just got spotlighted here. Look how easy it was for Facebook (Meta) to convince the so-called conservative Kuna mayor and city council into inviting them into the already infrastructure challenged Kuna area. They got rolled by legislators and even the US Congressional delegation. The People never had a chance and got blindsided.

  8. I would say, impeach him immediately. Articles of impeachment. It’s obvious that the development will continue. What your senator should be doing is to appeal the development due to water, restrictions and other restrictions. I would want to know who approved the development? Who sold the land and what was their intent? A senator should be looking into this, especially as an attorney. The senators should be looking into your best interest. It’s obvious this is not in his constituents. Best interest. This development would only be to their detriment. In court the developer would have to prove otherwise. I would definitely get a lawsuit against the developer. Also the purchasers of the land if their intent was to deprive citizens of much-needed water, and other necessities. I am not a lawyer, only a paralegal, but if need be, you could go in pro se and file a lawsuit in civil court. Only my opinion. Good luck and God bless.

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