We noticed a front page picture on the Friday IDAHO PRESS TRIBUNE showing police chiefs from Nampa and Caldwell posing with the Canyon Sheriff and about 20 other police in uniform. Each of them held campaign signs urging a “YES” vote on a ballot question for a new jail.
While well intentioned in their minds, these people used public resources to campaign on one side of an issue to be decided by voters. Whether one is in favor or against the funding for a jail is immaterial. The fact these public employes are using public resources to influence the outcome of an election violates a recent Idaho Supreme Court AMERITEL GBAD decision which ruled the Greater Boise Auditorium District violated the public purpose doctrine when that group used public funds to campaign for a bond.
To put it in perspective, imagine the outcry if the signs had all read, “OBAMA FOR CHANGE.”
No doubt we will hear lame excuses that each was on their lunch hour, etc. It is clear the intent of rally and picture was to influence the election. When a police badge and uniform are used to advocate on behalf of a candidate or cause, it is misuse of a public resource. It is no different than pasting a bumper sticker on a patrol car.
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