The petitions to recall Boise County Prosecuting Attorney RJ Twilegar, which have been circulating in the Idaho City area for a couple of months, are now being toted around town by Garden Valley residents, in an effort to get the 1200 signatures necessary for inclusion on the November general election ballot. They have until August 30.
Twilegar has been raising the hackles of County officials ever since he was sworn in, on January 12, 2009. Somehow, it came to the Commissioners’ attention that the new PA had no business in Federal Court, defending the County against the Alamar Ranch allegation of violations against the Fair Housing Act. Twilegar allegedly admitted he had not practiced law in 26 years and had never appeared in Federal Court. Outside counsel was retained by Boise County Commissioners and Twilegar was asked to step aside.
Then a Special Prosecutor from the Attorney General’s office stepped in to investigate criminal allegations brought against Twilegar, by County Commissioners. It seems when someone runs for office in Boise County, officials actually trust the applicant to be a resident of that county—especially if the person attests to the fact in writing. So much for the old honor system of spit and a handshake... now, even the X doesn’t offer much credence.
The County decided not to prosecute, as they weren’t given a leg to stand on. The report from the AG’s office states that “while there is substantial evidence that Mr. Twilegar was likely not a resident of Boise County at the time of the investigation or at the time he registered and voted in the May, 2008, primary election, no criminal statute could be found that applied to the holding of an office for which one is not qualified. Further, the statutes governing the affirmations required of a person who is registering to become an elector, contain wording making the affirmations regarding registrations prospective.”
Between May, 2009 and December, 2009, squabbles came up at County Commissioner meetings, ranging from Twilegar’s firing of his personally chosen Deputy Prosecutor, highly regarded Idaho Attorney, Jay Rosenthal, to hiring two part-time “green” Deputy Prosecutors (Cherese McLain and Eric Scott), to requests by Twilegar for reimbursements of lawyer’s fees, copies and transactions, which the Board paid or refused to pay.
The Secretary of State’s Office was contacted and they too chose not to prosecute Twilegar. Boise County Commissioners had done their due diligence and the residency issue was dropped.
During 2009 budget discussions, Twilegar revealed his time was being spent investigating his own clients, “county employees and others.” An unidentified source says that after commissioners educated him that this was against the law, he wanted a special prosecutor to step in. When no other county would trade services with him (for free) to act as a Special Prosecutor, he filed his request, without Commissioner’s authority to exceed his $1000 spending limits. His point was, possible misappropriation of $3,000 in County funds, from October, 2008, through January, 2009.
In support of the continuing effort to keep the 4th District Court system occupied, Commissioners filed requests three weeks later, for a Special Prosecutor; they suggested using someone who would work for free. The Court eventually appointed a third person, at no cost to the County. Special Prosecutor Daniel Norris refused to prosecute, as there was no probable cause. (Former Commissioner Fred Lawson had been pulled out by Twilegar, without Commissioner knowledge, and that is the subject of another current Tort Claim filed against Boise County.)
Boise County Commissioners retained additional private counsel to defend themselves for a few months. A methodical process ensued and Twilegar’s FY2010 salary was reduced to $25K.
Unidentified sources say additional accusations were dealt with, during the next few months, and went nowhere.
Twilegar was involved in an accident at Christmastime, 2009, with a 3 + month recovery period. Prior to his returning to full time work, Criminal Prosecutor Eric James gave his 10-day notice and quit. Twilegar found a replacement.
The FY2011 budget is at its highest, for the PA office. Sources say Twilegar insists it is his doing that the office runs smoothly. His salary has been restored, though it is unclear who is doing the work. Commissioners have seen Twilegar five times since last August. Perhaps the regular appearance of Deputy Prosecutor Cherese McLain, representing the prosecution of duties at Commissioner meetings and other civil meetings, and the two deputies still apparently performing the majority of responsibilities is just a scrim, to camouflage the diligent Prosecuting Attorney’s 007 pursuits.
For information on, or to sign, the petition, contact Linda Bass, at 462-3426 or firstname.lastname@example.org.