COEUR d'ALENE - "I would like to just come clean," said Zac Eifler, who called The Press Monday morning to confess that he was the one who impersonated Kootenai County Commissioner Todd Tondee in an online post last week.
Eifler read a story about Tondee filing a police report about the impersonation in Saturday's Press, and decided to confess - knowing full well that he could be prosecuted for the alleged crime.
"I want to let people know that I wrote that post, and it wasn't Commissioner Todd Tondee. I am sorry for any damage I may have caused him," Eifler said. "It was a stupid, stupid thing to do, and I can't even tell you why I did it."
Eifler also talked with Tondee and left a message with the Coeur d'Alene Police Department on Monday to confess and apologize.
Tondee said he was surprised by the confession, but he is pleased that Eifler had the courage to come forward.
"I have accomplished what I had hoped to accomplish," Tondee said. "I was defending my reputation and I wanted people to know that I had nothing to do with writing those comments.
"Now, it's in the hands of the police. I reported it to them and it's up to the police to determine if this was a crime, and where they will go from there."
Tondee said he has yet to talk with the investigating detective on the case, but wants to make it clear that he is not going to get in the way of the investigation or its outcome.
"I believe him when he told me there was no harm intended, but it's going to be tough," Tondee said. "If there was a crime committed, people need to know there are consequences."
Sgt. Christie Wood, police spokeswoman, said the detective assigned to the case has yet to speak with Eifler, but added that he could have left a message with another officer who has yet to forward it through the proper channels.
The Press published a story online and in its print editions on June 18 entitled "Angry crowd shuts down meeting." The story was about the county holding hearings on its controversial Unified Land Use Code proposal.
The June 17 hearing became emotionally charged with angry landowners before it was eventually postponed because the crowd exceeded the meeting room's fire capacity.
A heated debate continued to play out in an online discussion below the story the next day, and that's when Eifler registered to comment on the story with the screen name "Todd_Tondee." He made some acerbic comments, calling detractors of the land use proposal a bunch of "thugs," among other things.
Eifler provided The Press with the email address he used to create the account, and it did, in fact, match the email address that was used for the comment.
At the time he made the comment, Eifler said, he had never met Tondee or attended a ULUC meeting.
"I don't know what I was doing," Eifler said in hindsight. "At the time, I thought I was trying to be funny. I know now that it wasn't funny at all."
While The Press pulled the comment immediately and explained that it was made by an impostor, Tondee said on Friday that some people still believed he wrote the politically damaging comments.
He filed a police report that day claiming False Personation. At the time, Tondee said he did not want to use any public resources to discover who the person was, so he filed the criminal complaint as a private citizen.
"The only thing I did was ask legal staff if this was something that would harm the county, and they told me it's more of a personal thing," he said. "So, I dealt with it personally by filing the report."
Eifler said he read the story of the complaint on Saturday and realized the gravity of what he had done. He decided right then to turn himself in.
"I know there are consequences. I'm going to get what I am going to get, and I am willing to deal with that," he said, adding he wanted to minimize the damage he caused by apologizing and turning himself in. "I want to save the police some time and effort, so they can focus on something more important than tracking me down.
"It was such a stupid thing to do."