Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden must investigate Madison County Sheriff Roy Klingler’s spending binge, funded on the backs of responsible gun owners.
Just days ago, Madison County resident Dan Roberts, a log home craftsman, asked Wasden’s office to look into potentially illegal spending decisions made by Klingler’s office.
Klingler and company, including Chief Deputy Ryan Kaufman, have been using concealed weapons permit fees to pay for items unrelated to the permit process. The Idaho Second Amendment Alliances believes Klingler and Kaufman violated Idaho law.
Between 2011 and 2014, the office spent more than $60,000 from a concealed weapons permit fee account to purchase interesting items: a used car for $14,000, pistols from a Twin Falls gun shop for more than $2,300 and carpet and tile for office spaces, at a cost of more than $30,000.
Idaho lawmakers narrowed state law covering how sheriffs handle and spend fees during the 2015 session in Boise. Even before the minor changes, though, we believe Idaho code prohibited sheriff’s offices from spending permit fees on anything unrelated to license administration.
Pistols, carpet and tile may be necessary for police work, but they’re not directly related to permit administration. That’s a problem.
What’s more, Klingler persuaded county commissioners to unanimously back a 38 percent concealed weapons permit fee hike in June 2013. The sheriff cried poverty, claiming his office couldn’t keep up with rising expenses associated with administration.
A few months later, Klingler’s office bought the pistols at the Twin Falls gun shop. Some months later in 2014, the office used the permit fees to purchase a used Chevrolet Cruze for a civil deputy.
Poverty? Not so much.
Keep in mind Deputy Attorney Prosecutor Troy Evans told commissioners in the June 2013 meeting the sheriff’s office should use fees for costs and nothing more. He even said the county shouldn’t “make money” off responsible gun owners.
Klingler and the commissioners, it appears, ignored the wise counsel.
Besides the potentially illegal spending, Madison County officials can’t agree who to blame. Klingler, who smeared critics by suggesting they are waging a “hate campaign,” told area news outlets he cleared the spending with commissioners and county attorneys.
Commissioners point the finger right back at the sheriff.
Todd Smith, a commissioner, told IdahoReporter.com weeks ago that he and his two colleagues didn’t approve the spending.
Is there any real oversight in Madison County? Or are Smith, Klingler and Kaufman playing responsible gun owners for fools?
More than anything, Roberts and others in Madison County deserve better from their elected officials. Instead of smear-style tactics, Klingler and his colleagues should have calmly explained why they chose to spend dollars potentially outside the law bounds of state law.
If Klingler can’t do that — or worse — commissioners need to hold the sheriff’s office to account. But even that seems too far a walk for this crew.
Madison residents deserve better. Loose spending with little or no oversight, finger-pointing and smear campaigns belong in Washington, D.C., not Rexburg, Tetonia or Victor.
Many gun owners have little problem following the law as written. A fee might seem onerous, but they want to uphold and sustain the law. Sadly, it appears Madison County officials just don’t feel the same way.
We hope Wasden picks up this ball and runs with it. It may be the only way Madison County residents ever get the truth they deserve.
Greg Pruett is president of the Idaho Second Amendment Alliance. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.