City Government

Canyon Prosecutor Says Cop Rally Wrong

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.



Officers and chiefs from Nampa Caldwell, and the Canyon County sheriff appeared for a rally Thursday carrying signs saying “vote yes.” The GUARDIAN saw the news story and reported on the legal aspects of the action, calling attention to an Idaho Supreme Court ruling that public funds cannot be used to campaign for an issue or candidate.

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.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. I guess I am a little confused here Guardian. What is the difference between the Canyon coppers posing for a “Photo Op” pushing for the new jail, and the Ada County Paramedics attending your recent town hall meeting, in uniform, lobbying for Boise not to go into the ambulance business?

    EDITOR NOTE–With regard to the GUARDIAN meeting: 1.there was no election issue. 2. they were all off duty. 3. the director gave “information” about the issue–however biased. 4. the event was not a one sided “rally” (the city of Boise refused to attend or share any facts or views with citizens). The Nampa rally was a political campaign rally any way you cut it. As for the uniform I concur with the Canyon prosecutor that probably wasn’t the worst thing.

  2. The Deal is Still Lame
    Oct 24, 2009, 9:32 am

    Seems to me a more appropriate deal would be to have Officers and chiefs from Nampa Caldwell, and the Canyon County sheriff appear at another similar rally with signs encouraging people to “vote NO.”

  3. Jerry Simonson
    Oct 24, 2009, 10:23 am

    How about I shoot someone and then my boss offers to pay for the funeral. Am I forgiven? If our police chiefs and sheriff say they didn”t know it was against the law to campaign while on duty, they are either lying or too stupid to run their departments.

  4. local public budgets will need to be reduced in cost when the fed money dries up (see 1938) … The coppers out encouraging the money to be spent on/in their area is proof of that reality coming closer… they can feel the heat. Canyon county without effective police is going to be a scary place to live. I wouldn’t want to be a cop if I didn’t have and overwelming advantage on the bad guys.

  5. Flyonthewall
    Oct 24, 2009, 1:19 pm

    I will believe the comp time stuff when I see it posted on the county and city websites. Chief Allgood of Caldwell PD is no good when he said in the paper he didn’t see a problem with what he and his people did on the city dime at this rally at Nampa Police HQ.

    Note to Chief Allgood ..go out and read the letter about political campaigning posted on the front door of the CPD offices put up by the city clerk.

    Canyon County politics has been a “GOOD OLD BOY SYSTEM FOR WAY TOO LONG” per Mr. Bujack in an earlier statement to the media. It is refreshing to see him take immediate action in this matter.

  6. Cyclops-
    Is public education lobbying? If I recall it was a meeting put on by Dave for the public that some Paramedics and Ada County representatives decided to attend while the City/fire department refused.Two completely different things in my opinion.

  7. TJ (the elder)
    Oct 24, 2009, 1:44 pm

    Just a thought – perhaps the county could find out a way to put fewer people in jail. They would save tons of money on food, clothing, medical care, guards, etc.

  8. Don’t mis-interpret j-dub. I don’t believe that Boise has any place in the ambulance business, and I believe there has been a pretty good case for a new jail. I was just asking if the playing field was level.

  9. What’s the difference between officers being paid to be there, or just writing a check to promote the railcar? Above it says “you can’t use public funds to promote a side”

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