COEUR d'ALENE - The Kootenai County prosecutor has found no evidence that the local teachers union in Coeur d'Alene committed any crimes by offering financial campaign assistance to school board candidates.
Prosecutor Barry McHugh sent a letter Friday to Jeff Ward, president of the Kootenai County Reagan Republicans activist group. In the letter, McHugh advised Ward that the Coeur d'Alene Education Association, which is the teachers union, had not violated Idaho statutes.
McHugh's letter was in response to a complaint filed earlier this week by Ward.
Ward alleged that the teachers union violated state statutes prohibiting "bribery in official and political matters" and "gifts to public servants by persons subject to their jurisdiction," when it sent letters to candidates offering possible financial support.
"In the letter sent from the education association to the candidates, what is offered is campaign assistance. Money given to a campaign is not deemed to be money given to the individual on whose behalf the campaign exists," McHugh wrote.
McHugh advised Ward that it is common practice for political contributions to be made to incumbents who have decision making authority, and not a violation of Idaho's bribery and corrupt practices statutes.
Ward told The Press that he is writing another letter to McHugh asking that the complaint be reviewed again.
He said he disagrees with McHugh's application of Idaho Title 67's chapters covering election campaign contribution laws to the school board election process.
"As somebody who has dealt with state election law to the great detail that I have, I know that the title and chapter they used to make their decision not to prosecute is the wrong one," Ward said.
The statute governing school board races, Ward said, is Title 33, Idaho's education statute.
"Because there is no state law defining campaign contributions to school board candidates, any contribution to a school board candidate is a gift," Ward said.