May 2, 2012

Does Ysursa’s Opinion Really Matter?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , , — Bill @ 8:12 am

According to this morning’s article in the More-or-Less Press, the CdA Ministry of Disinformation has persuaded Secretary of State Ben Ysursa to help them defeat the effort by a large number of Coeur d’Alene citizens to recall Coeur d’Alene Mayor Sandi Bloem, Council President Mike Kennedy, Councilman Woody McEvers, and Councilman Deanna Goodlander.

The MinDis induced the Secretary of State Ben Ysursa to sign a very official-looking and -sounding letter in which he suggests that he and no other should be considered the supreme and final authority on the interpretation of the state’s election laws.


Here’s a primer in Idaho state government.

The Legislative Department represents the people of the state to pass laws.

The Executive Department executes the laws of the state.

The Judicial Department resolves disputes in the interpretation of the laws.

The Secretary of State is part of the Executive Department.   The Secretary of State’s authority to interpret the laws passed by the Legislature applies only to the extent necessary for him to define policies which truly and faithfully execute the laws as passed by the Legislature.

In the effort to recall Coeur d’Alene’s mayor and three city councilmen, a dispute in the interpretation of two statutes has arisen.  That dispute is tentatively scheduled to be resolved in the District Court by Judge Benjamin Simpson on May 11, 2012.

The May 1 letter from Secretary of State Ysursa was clearly sent for political effect to try and convince the Kootenai County Prosecuting Attorney, Barry McHugh, to succumb to political pressure, roll over, and play dead.  In other words, Ysursa is hoping McHugh will withdraw the Amended Petition for Declaratory Judgment.  Ysursa’s letter appears to be his political opinion rather than a particularly well-reasoned analysis of the sections of statutes involved.

Readers may recall that Ysursa had for years unilaterally and without statutory authority told county clerks they could open absentee ballots early to expedite processing.   State law required then and now that absentee ballot envelopes containing the absentee ballots remain unopened until after polls close on election day.  The reasoning behind the law is obvious:  If ballots are opened early, they may be examined by dishonest county clerks and their employees.   That could result in those dishonest county employees revealing approximations of election outcomes before the polls close with the very real potential for ballot-box stuffing to occur at, say, satellite voting locations at city halls.

The legality of Ysursa’s action was never questioned by the Idaho Attorney General, the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, and certainly not by the county clerks who requested his illegal authorization for the practice.   Apparently these alleged guardians in state government really didn’t care about election integrity any more than Ysursa does.

Ysursa’s illegal action came to light as a result of the lawsuit filed in 2009 contesting the 2009 Coeur d’Alene City election.   Neither he nor any of his staff could produce explicit statutory authority for his early opening of absentee ballots, so in 2012 Ysursa sought that authority to ratify his prior illegal actions.  He and his Chief Deputy tried unsuccessfully to convince the Idaho Legislature, particularly the House Government Affairs Committee, that opening absentee ballots early for the convenience of county clerks and to help the news media meet deadlines was more important than the integrity of Idaho’s elections.  Thankfully, the Legislature recognized that Ysursa’s proposed legislation was not only unworkable but that it also would have compromised rather than enhanced election integrity in Idaho’s elections.

Fast-forward to May 1, 2012, and we find Ysursa once again trying to make people believe he, rather than the Judicial Department and in particular the District Court, is the sole authority for the interpretation of Idaho’s election laws.

Given his documented history of ignoring state law, does Ysursa’s opinion really matter?




  1. is there a chance that no matter what the outcome-that we would wind up in court? what’s next? get the feds involved?

    Comment by murphyk — May 2, 2012 @ 8:51 pm

  2. murphyk,

    It is my understanding that the Kootenai County Prosecuting Attorney has decided not to pursue the declaratory relief which would have had District Court Judge Benjamin Simpson making a decision according to his interpretation of the law. Rather, the decision by McHugh was based on the political input from the Secretary of State. Essentially, it appears that the City and County Prosecuting Attorney got together and decided what the law is (or ought to be in the interest of political expedience) and how it ought to be applied in this particular case. As far as I know, both Recall CdA and Frank Orzell were notified of the political decision only after it had been made.

    Given that Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh was one of the committee members selected by then-freshman Representative Walt Minnick to recommend a nominee whom President Obama could nominate to be Idaho’s US Attorney, and given that nomination by President Obama was Wendy Jo Olson, I think there is zero chance of the feds ever launching a public corruption investigation of public officials in Idaho. The environment from Boise to Boundary is too target rich.

    Comment by Bill — May 3, 2012 @ 6:27 am

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