County takes on recall investigations

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COEUR d’ALENE — The Kootenai County Prosecutor’s Office said Monday it will investigate the complaint filed last week by recall opponents, Stop The Recall.

Kootenai County Prosecutor Barry McHugh said the office will look into the complaint largely based on the volume of allegations in it.

“I’ll likely ask someone to do some investigative work,” he said. “There are a number of assertions in it.”

That’s not to say the allegations have merit, or charges will be forthcoming, he said.

Stop The Recall, the group that is opposing the recall effort led by RecallCdA, turned the complaint into the city last week. The city forwarded the complaint Monday to the county for further evaluation.

The complaint states that recall supporters aiming to unseat four city incumbents have used incorrect information while seeking signatures, which would be a felony offense according to Idaho Code.

McHugh’s office is also investigating an incident involving a recall petitioner who was recorded reportedly using false information while seeking signatures.

In the recording the petitioner states the McEuen Field project will raise property taxes by 18 percent, which is untrue.

McHugh said the result of that investigation could be ready as soon as today.

The citizen group, RecallCdA, is seeking the ouster of the four incumbents largely for their support of the McEuen Field redevelopment project — and not supporting a public advisory vote on it. They have also cited salary increases for city staff approved by the incumbents as a reason for the recall.

Organizers have said they have at least 5,000 signatures. The petitions each need 4,311 valid signatures from registered Coeur d’Alene voters to prompt a recall election for City Council members Mike Kennedy, Deanna Goodlander, Woody McEvers and Mayor Sandi Bloem.

The Kootenai County Clerk’s office said Monday it will hire part time help to assist certifying signatures once the petitions are turned over to the county.

Clerk Cliff Hayes said the county will bring on six to eight people for around $4,000 to help ensure the office has enough staffing to certify all the signatures by June 19, the deadline.

His office wants the petitions by June 11, which would give them eight days, including a weekend, to do the work.

He said the agreement on the deadline was made with recall organizers because the statutes governing recall procedures didn’t specify when petitions should be turned over. Statute says that the county clerk’s office has 15 business days to certify signatures, but doesn’t say when petitions have to be turned in to start the 15-day clock.

“I can’t demand something that isn’t in the code,” he said of his office requiring the petitions be turned in early to give his office more time.

The compromised date, however, gives his office enough time to certify, while not cutting into the signature gathering window severely, he said.

“Do you want to shorten the petitioners’ opportunity to gather petitioners?” he said.

The part-time workers will be selected from a pool of people who work with the county during elections.

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