Friday, February 8, 2013

Lawmakers propose ethics committee

Legislators: External committee would increase transparency

Express Staff Writer

     State Sen. Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, has joined forces with Rep. Phylis King, D-Boise, to introduce a bill that would set up a committee charged with listening to ethics complaints from citizens.

     The independent ethics commission would be made up of two citizens who are not legislators or lobbyists, one person from the Attorney General’s office, one person from the Idaho Department of Finance and one person from Idaho Legislative Services.

     King said in a written statement dated Feb. 5 that her constituents have demanded an open, transparent way to address ethical lapses in their legislators, state employees and state officials.

     “The commission restores their faith in this important public institution,” she said.

     The bill introduced by Stennett and King differs from a resolution passed by the House on Tuesday, which amends the Rules of the House of Representatives to allow legislators to make complaints about their colleagues. The newly formed committee will consist only of legislators—two from the minority party and three from the majority.

“An internal ethics committee still leaves open the possibility of partisanship getting in the way of a rigorous investigation, or even the perception that complaints are not handled fairly.”
Sen. Michelle Stennett

     In contrast, the bill from Stennett and King, House Bill 61, would allow any Idaho citizen to report a breach of ethics, misuse of funds or violation of law by any state employee or official. A complaint would become public only when the commission determined that it had merit.

     Stennett contended that an internal committee would not achieve the goals of transparency in ethics complaints.

     “An internal ethics committee still leaves open the possibility of partisanship getting in the way of a rigorous investigation, or even the perception that complaints are not handled fairly,” she said. “This is a disservice to the people of Idaho who expect and deserve some oversight over the activities of their elected officials.”

     The committee is expected to cost the state $50,000 in the first year and $25,000 each year after.

The bill has been introduced and is currently in the House State Affairs committee.

Kate Wutz:

About Comments

Comments with content that seeks to incite or inflame may be removed.

Comments that are in ALL CAPS may be removed.

Comments that are off-topic or that include profanity or personal attacks, libelous or other inappropriate material may be removed from the site. Entries that are unsigned or contain signatures by someone other than the actual author may be removed. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or any other policies governing this site. Use of this system denotes full acceptance of these conditions. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

The comments below are from the readers of and in no way represent the views of Express Publishing, Inc.

You may flag individual comments. You may also report an inappropriate or offensive comment by clicking here.

Flagging Comments: Flagging a comment tells a site administrator that a comment is inappropriate. You can find the flag option by pointing the mouse over the comment and clicking the 'Flag' link.

Flagging a comment is only counted once per person, and you won't need to do it multiple times.

Proper Flagging Guidelines: Every site has a different commenting policy - be sure to review the policy for this site before flagging comments. In general these types of comments should be flagged:

  • Spam
  • Ones violating this site's commenting policy
  • Clearly unrelated
  • Personal attacks on others
Comments should not be flagged for:
  • Disagreeing with the content
  • Being in a dispute with the commenter

Popular Comment Threads

 Local Weather 
Search archives:

Copyright © 2020 Express Publishing Inc.   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.