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Op-Ed: Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden Is No Friend to Idahoans Desiring Transparent and Ethical Government

By • February 20, 2022

The following Op-Ed was submitted by Joseph Gish. Op-Eds do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of those at the Idaho Dispatch.

As voters inform themselves about the candidates requesting their votes in the May 17, 2022 primary elections, they should understand the incumbent Idaho Attorney General candidate Lawrence G. Wasden is no supporter of Idaho’s Transparent and Ethical Government laws.  In February of 2021 AG Wasden ignored a complaint filed against the Nez Perce County prosecutor who refused to enforce Title 74 Open Meeting Law within his jurisdiction, and then directly appointed a special prosecutor in Latah county to enforce the Open Meeting violation he refused to enforce himself.  Both these actions by the Nez Perce County prosecutor were violations of Idaho’s Transparent and Ethical Government laws, and AG Wasden could care less.

In late 2020 the Lewiston City Council was the subject of six “Open Meeting” violation complaints as they shut citizens out of public City Council Meetings where votes on mask mandates were taking place.  Although the County Prosecutor, Justin Coleman, ruled against the City Council in the first complaint, he later decided to assert a “conflict of interest” and assigned one Open Meeting violation complaint directly to the Latah County prosecutor.  The complaint happened to be about the same meeting the then Lewiston city manager Alan Nygaard was charged with misdemeanor battery of a citizen attempting to listen to the council meeting.  The county prosecutor cited a contract his office had with the City of Lewiston as the source of the conflict of interest, but later asserted the conflict of interest would remain even if the contract did not exist.

Idaho State Statute 74-208(5) states:

“…and the prosecuting attorneys of the various counties shall have the duty to enforce this act in relation to local public agencies within their respective jurisdictions.”

The Nez Perce County Prosecutor’s first violation of Idaho State Statute was refusing to enforce Idaho Open Meeting Law within his jurisdiction by citing an unspecified “conflict of interest”.  However, Idaho Statute does address how a prosecutor should proceed given a bonified conflict of interest.  Idaho State Statute 74-208(5) states:

“…for any other reason a county prosecuting attorney is deemed disqualified from proceeding to enforce this act, the prosecuting attorney or board of county commissioners shall seek to have a special prosecutor appointed for that purpose as provided in section 31-2603, Idaho Code.”

IC 32-2603 requires the prosecutor to petition a district court judge to assign a special prosecutor.  This is understandable since any conflict of Interest that would disqualify the prosecutor from prosecuting the violation would also disqualify him from selecting his replacement.  Therefore, Prosecutor Coleman also violated state statute by bypassing the district court and directly selecting the special prosecutor.

Imagine the precedent the Nez Perce County and Latah County prosecutors are setting by agreeing to prosecute each other’s controversial Open Meeting violations when doing so transfers those prosecutions to another county where the prosecutor is not subject the will of the voters!  This illegal inter-county transfer of the Nez Perce County Prosecutor’s primary duty of enforcing Idaho Open Meeting Law is exactly what Attorney General Lawrence Wasden ignored.

On February 18th, 2021 a complaint was emailed to Idaho Chief Deputy Attorney General Brian Kane by Idaho Representative Mike Kingsley on behalf of Joseph Gish and Wilson Boots.  No response to this email was received.  On February 24th, 2021 Representative Kingsley hand  delivered Mr. Gish’s and Mr. Boots’ complaint directly to the Idaho Office of Attorney General.

On March 1, 2021 the Gish/Boots complaint was followed up with a letter from Lewiston City Councilor John Bradbury.  Councilor Bradbury, a retired Idaho District Judge, wrote the following in his letter to AG Wasden:

“As an Idaho citizen and as a member of the Lewiston City Council I am writing to endorse the request of Joe Gish and Wilson Boots to determine the legal propriety of referring Open Meetings Law (Act) complaints to the Latah County Prosecuting Attorney.  No genuine conflict of interest is apparent.  What is apparent is an effort to avoid the political heat of forcing the city to obey the law.  I doubt there is another Idaho city that has exhibited such repeated disdain for compliance with the open meeting standards.”

The complaint did not request legal action, only to render an opinion on the actions of the Nez Perce County Prosecutor and a recommendation on how Open Meeting violations by the City of Lewiston should be handled in the future.  Attorney General Wasden failed to investigate the complaint, and failed to even respond to Rep. Kingsley, Mr. Gish, Mr. Boots, or Councilor Bradbury.   With very little effort on his part, AG Wasden could have reinforced the importance of Idaho Open Meeting Law, made clear County Prosecutors shall enforce Open Meeting Law within their jurisdictions, and helped the citizens of Lewiston who were being shut out of public City Council meetings.

I am urging the Republican voters of Idaho NOT to vote for incumbent Lawrence G. Wasden for Idaho Attorney General on May 17th, 2022.  AG Wasden does not support Idaho’s Transparent and Ethical Government laws.  Let’s make Wasden a “Has Been”!

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Tags: Joseph Gish, Lawrence Wasden, Lewiston City Council, Mike Kingsley, Open Meeting Law

12 thoughts on “Op-Ed: Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden Is No Friend to Idahoans Desiring Transparent and Ethical Government

  1. This is a well presented, accurate letter of information. It clearly defines the atrocities that exist, and clearly shows why Idaho voters need to totally rid the system of Wasden, his cronies, and people like the Nez Perce prosecutor.

    1. This last year i filed a complaint to the AG office on a corrupt public defender. No answer, no answer, no answer. I finally called but no one could answer my complaint. Weeks go buy and i get a phone call from the AG office a newbie attorney told me the AG office doe not handle any complaints when it comes to county attorneys. Thats was it. No letter explaining how they came up with that answer. When you a have a county prosecutor tell the sheriff office what laws they will enforce and what laws they will not enforce, to stand down , no citations will be issued because the prosecutor will not prosecute. Trespassing, property damages, You know Idaho laws. Because they are above the laws.

      1. I have had similar experiences with a lack of responses myself concerning signing onto other states bills in opposition of federal overreach.

        I did get one reply saying, “Idaho did sign on to the letter opposing HR1 on March 3, 2021. You should also be aware that refraining from participation as a signatory to this type of correspondence should not be construed as a statement on the position being advocated, but rather the role of the Idaho attorney general in respect to the office’s limited time and resources and its role in the state’s day-to-day legal matters. Further, the issues addressed in this type of correspondence are often more complex than can be adequately conveyed in a short sign-on letter. The office continues to monitor the actions of the federal government to ensure they are consistent with the Constitution and the Rule of Law.”

        I personally thought that statement lacked the responsibility in safe guarding the freedoms of Idahoans.

        However, this year the Attorney General Wasden and Secretary of State Denny had time to send a Cease and Desist letter to Mike Lindell claiming he made false statements and requesting he pay $6558.83 to the state for their efforts to recount ballots in 3 counties (the bill was originally paid for by a federal grant and Lindell did not ask the SOS to spend that money).

  2. Educate yourself, vote smartly, familiarize yourself with the Idaho Constitution and the Constitution of the USA. Attend events where they speak. Find out how much they know and understand BOTH constitutions. Change will NOT occur if the same people are continuously voted in. Be part of the solution!

  3. This is just one prime example of the lack of justice regularly experienced in Idaho. The current AG Wasden acts as the governor’s personal attorney rather than looking out for the citizens.
    There is one candidate for AG that understands and articulates the legal issues facing Idahoans, Art Macomber. I’ve talked with Art at length about the issues I faced fighting the city of Lewiston and the continued overreach by current governor Brad Little. Art knows precisely what the AG’s office should be doing, and has committed to standing up for the citizens of our state against unlawful actions by an out of control government.
    For these reasons I encourage you to join me in support of Art Macomber for Idaho’s Attorney General. Wilson Boots, Lewiston

  4. (please note the date of this report; ?attitude more engrained today?)
    April 15, 2014, by Randy Stapilus

    Wasden may have way to defang GOP insurgents

    …, speaking with the Lewiston Tribune… Wasden cast it in large-scale terms as “a fight, really, for the heart and soul of the Republican Party.” … “Are you out there on that far edge, or are you rational?…” One would expect that the cohorts on Wasden’s side of the divide — Gov. Butch Otter, Rep. Mike Simpson, Lt. Gov. Brad Little and others… He just called a large portion of his party’s base…living in the world of fantasy… That it is a stick of dynamite… risk infuriating much of the base… Characterizing the insurgency. The best way to defang it would be to de-legitimize it.

    1. Wasden’s own comments reported in the Lewiston Tribune display his real status as a progressive socialist RINO, intent on painting EVERYONE right of left-center as an insurgent. This is pure ultra-leftist double-speak. All you need to know about him you will find described in Saul Alinsky’s (Hillary Clinton’s favorite communist) “Rules for Radicals.”

  5. Wasden backed Governor Little’s permanent state of emergency and usurping the legislature’s power of the purse. He is a political animal and does not respect the rule of law.

  6. Along with his wonderful friend and colleague Cornel Rasor, candidate for attorney general, Art Macomber, came to speak last fall at one of our monthly local (Idaho/Lewis counties) Community+ meetings. Unmistakably, both of these men showed themselves to be “the real deal” – – true Idahoans, true Americans!

    Speaking of the office of Attorney General, here’s a little story: After serving on a jury back in the summer of 2005, I was soon charged with perjury, looking at 1 to 14 years, for having dared to question and go against the “judge’s instructions,” by speaking out (both during trial and later in deliberations) against the prosecution’s failure to actually show cause, so intent as they seemed to be on railroading a young man to prison without providing any substantial proof of the defendant’s guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt,” as the prosecutor had so vehemently promised in his opening statement. It was then district trial judge John Bradbury (serving presently as a Lewiston city councilman) who reported me to AG Lawrence Wasden’s office who then issued the charge against me. Some sixteen thousand dollars later, my charges were dismissed, I believe not so much because they found me “innocent,” as that “the system” simply decided it best to let fade away the whole issue of THE POWER OF A FULLY INFORMED JURY which my widely publicized case had stirred up throughout the area and even across the entire country. “Small potatoes” as this case may have been, it did seem to serve as a microcosm of the level of corruption plaguing our nation’s court system. In short, not only Idaho but all of America NEEDS true men of God, true men of the People, the likes of whom I believe we would have in Art Macomber as our (way overdue) next Idaho Attorney General! Blessings all!

  7. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to hear all the AG candidates speak. It was expressly stated, Art and Raul understand that they represent the people, and Wasden believes that he represents the state government and the governor.

    Art has run a good campaign. He’s worked very hard and I like that about him. But he read his remarks at both events I attended. It was awkward and frankly, it was dry. However, Raul spoke from his experience and brought energy to the room. When I spoke with him privately, I could see that he had a gift for listening, for connecting. He had clear answers for solving my concerns. Remember, it was Raul who started the Freedom Caucus as a Congressman. It was Raul who was able to stop the mandates while serving on the District Health Board. All of these candidates represent themselves to be true Christians, so religion should not be an issue in this race. Either would be better than Wasden.

    1. Thank you for your comments FoundingMama. Great information for the voters! I don’t know Raul, but Art took time out of his schedule to help me with the complaint that is the subject of this OpEd. He didn’t know me and still took the time to help point me to the relevant State Statute. I think both Art and Raul are very good men. I haven’t decided myself who I’ll vote for, besides NOT voting for Wasden the Hasben.

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