Friday, August 1, 2008

Does whistleblowing even work in Idaho?

When a state government is so dominated by a single party, does anyone even hear the sound of a state employee blowing the whistle on possible malfeasance or violations of the law?

Every Idaho citizen ought to be concerned about the claims of a Tax Commission whistleblower who's crying foul about special and secret deals (tax breaks) that were struck with out-of-state businesses. Whether laws were broken or not, it would appear that the whistleblower raises valid concerns with the way this issue has been investigated. In his letter to Gov. Otter, veteran auditor Stan Howland poses questions about whether any of the investigations in this matter have been truly independent, citing the many conflicts of interest of those involved.

In a state where power is so concentrated in the hands of a single party--a party that goes to great lengths to protect its own--you have to wonder if we lack the checks and balances necessary to properly follow up on the allegations of a whistleblower. Attorney General Lawrence Wasden (a Republican) has demonstrated an independent streak and a willingness to put aside politics in upholding the law. I would hope that the AG's office could address Howland's concerns and conduct a truly independent investigation.

Read Howland's letter to Otter, as well as his response to the AG's report, with detailed rebuttals of many of the AG's findings. No matter your politics, you can't help but wonder if Idaho's taxpayers have been done a dissservice by the Commissioners and whether anyone in the majority party is truly committed to getting to the bottom of this matter.

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