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.”Advertisement
The letter is signed by “Your Concerned Constituents and Citizens of Canyon County, Idaho.”LAKEY CONFLICT OF INTEREST - 08292023 LTR
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.
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;
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
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.
- 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.
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 LakeyforSenate.com
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