Can a county commissioner vote to give his organization $5,000 in tax money? According to one Idaho politician, the answer is, “yes.”
Remember Idaho County Commissioner Jim Chmelik? He’s the chap who ran against Lt. Gov. Brad Little in the 2014 GOP primary on a platform (more like a plank) of taking our public lands (a.k.a. “land disposal”). He lost…big time.
Yet Chmelik hasn’t given up his dream of stripping westerners of their lands according to the Lewiston Tribune (pay site):
“The Idaho County commissioners voted Tuesday to tuck away $5,000 … for a local group led by Commission Chairman Jim Chmelik dedicated to (land disposal).”
You read that right. Chmelik voted to give his organization $5,000 of taxpayer money. By now, you’re asking, “Are you sure he voted for it?” Again, from the Lewiston Tribune:
“All three commissioners, including Chmelik, voted on the measure Tuesday.”
Now you ask. “Isn’t that a conflict of interest?” Not according to Chmelik.
“There is no conflict of interest,” Chmelik said.
So what does the law say?
“Conflict of interest’ means any official action or any decision or recommendation by a person acting in a capacity as a public official, the effect of which would be to the private pecuniary benefit of the person or a member of the person’s household, or a business with which the person or a member of the person’s household is associated.”
Chmelik has traveled the West hustling the idea of land disposal and asking for contributions to his organization from rural counties for the last two years.
He says 13 western counties have paid him $5,000. Oh wait, make that 14.