Ethics in Idaho? Gem State Gets a D-Minus 


Idaho government gets a D-minus when it comes to transparency and integrity, according to the just-released 2015 State Integrity Investigation from the Pulitzer Prize-winning Center for Public Integrity.

The grade is based on 245 questions posed on public access to information, political financing, lobbying disclosure and ethics enforcement, among others indicators.

The report actually gave Idaho high marks for the free public access to meetings of the Idaho Legislature's budget writing committee—via Idaho Public Television's web streaming service—but the same analysis chides the state for lack of financial disclosure laws, lack of an ethics commission and no "cooling off" period to prevent public officials from becoming legislative lobbyists soon after they leave office.

The report points to Idaho's "current lobbying corps," which includes Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's former chief of staff, his former budget director, a former deputy director from the Idaho Department of Insurance and several former Idaho lawmakers.

This past January, it was learned Frank Lamb was a paid lobbyist for the gaming industry at the same time he was heading Idaho's horse race regulating agency. Lamb insisted it was a not a conflict of interest in spite of the fact he was pushing for the controversial "instant horse racing" gambling devices to be installed at Idaho race tracks.

Ultimately, Idaho earned its lowest marks in the areas of state pension fund management; lack of ethics enforcement; and poor grades for executive, legislative and judicial accountability.

The states that came out the worst in the investigation were Oregon, Wyoming, Michigan, Delaware, South Dakota, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Maine, Kansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma, which all received a grade of F. Only three U.S. states scored higher than a D-plus: Alaska, California and Connecticut, which each received a C.

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