For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Bob Cooper
Date: November 2, 2006
Attorney General Closes Investigation Related to 2005 Notus Recall Election
(Boise) – The Office of Attorney General has closed an investigation into allegations of improprieties in connection with the 2005 recall election of Notus Mayor Marjorie Ellmaker.
Deputy Attorney General Steve Bywater, Chief of the Attorney General’s Criminal Law Division, notified Canyon County Prosecuting Attorney Dave Young today that the Attorney General will not be filing criminal charges. Young referred the matter to the Attorney General’s Special Prosecutions Unit for investigation and prosecutorial review after receiving complaints from proponents of the recall election.
The complainants alleged that a Notus city employee had intimidated them, that the city clerk delayed the recall process and that the mayor had unlawfully placed campaign materials next to recall ballots at Notus City Hall.
In his letter to Young, Bywater stated that the intimidation allegations lack prosecutorial merit and that there is no evidence that the employee’s actions were meant to harass or intimidate the complainants and no evidence to suggest that his actions were motivated by the recall election.
The complainants also suggested that the Notus City Clerk delayed the filing of the recall petition by holding it for 15 days without cause. The investigation determined that the city clerk had forwarded the petition to the city attorney for review. The city attorney confirmed that his office had the petition for “about two to three weeks” while awaiting a legal opinion from the Attorney General’s Office regarding the petition.
With regard to the campaign materials allegation, the investigation found that some of the mayor’s campaign materials were on a table next to a sample ballot at Notus City Hall, the designated absent electors polling place, on November 1, 2005.
“In the instant case, it does not appear that Mayor Ellmaker had the intent to influence voters while they were casting their absentee vote. The ballots at the city hall were sample ballots, and city records show that only one voter filed an absentee ballot in that election. Although Mayor Ellmaker’s actions may constitute a technical violation of the law, it does not appear that Mayor Ellmaker’s actions fit within the intent of the aforementioned code section [Idaho Code. §18-2318], nor that any actual attempt to influence voters was made or was successful,” Bywater wrote. “As such, a prosecution for violating said code section and an attempt to punish Mayor Ellmaker with a monetary fine does not appear to be in the interests of justice.”
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