Canyon Prosecuting Attorney John Bujak reacted quickly and properly Friday when he learned local on-duty coppers in uniform attended a rally advocating a “yes” vote for a jail bond issue on the November 3 election ballot.
Bujak told the IDAHO PRESS TRIBUNE, “You can’t use any public funds to support a side. You can’t use public funds to influence voters. If they’re (police) not taking personal leave or vacation time, they’re being paid an hourly wage on the county coffers, which is our tax dollars. It wouldn’t be any different than sending them out canvassing neighborhoods with brochures saying, ‘Remember to vote yes on the jail bond.'”
“I think they just thought they had a great idea and now people have raised some legitimate issues,” Bujak said.
We agree with the prosecutor’s statement. It is actually refreshing to see a public official not only respond quickly, but broker a deal where there is an instant remedy. According to a story in the Saturday Press Tribune, the coppers will donate some leave time to compensate the cities and county for the improper use of their time. We doubt you will see a uniformed platoon picking up trash along the freeway and the time will probably never actually be subtracted from the books (it wouldn’t be fair to punish coppers for doing what their commanders wanted them to do). The important part is the lesson.
We hope the event sends a message to other local governments throughout the state that it is improper to campaign on the taxpayer dollar. The GUARDIAN has no position on the issue of of funding a new jail. Our interest was only to insure compliance with the law.
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