A civics lesson for Idaho’s new Attorney General

Idaho’s new Attorney General, Raul Labrador, pledged during the election campaign that he was going to represent the people, not the bureaucracy. Voters seemed to assume this was just campaign rhetoric and that he would settle down after the election to do the work required of the Attorney General–to faithfully advise and represent the state government. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. Labrador has shown a decided preference for representing his friends and supporters, regardless of the interests of the state. He has been helping “his people,” rather than “the people.”

The only reason Idaho has an AG is to serve the people as the lawyer for their government, which is sometimes called the bureaucracy. Under our system of representative government, the “people” means the government of Idaho and its officers and agencies. When Idaho’s Constitution was being fashioned in 1889, one delegate said that the Attorney General “has to be the adviser of all state officers.”

Section 67-1401 of the Idaho Code sets out the duties the AG swears, upon oath, to carry out for the state. Chief among them is “to perform all legal services for the state” and its officials and agencies. All of them are his clients and he is obligated under the Idaho State Bar’s ethical rules–the Idaho Rules of Professional Conduct (IRCP)–to act in their best legal interests. The rules require all lawyers, including the AG, to act with undivided loyalty toward their clients and to take no action adverse to client interests without first obtaining written client consent. Any lawyer violating these duties, including the AG, can expect disciplinary action by the Bar, up to and including disbarment.

One of Labrador’s first acts was to dismiss a trespassing charge against one of his prominent supporters. He was supposed to be the people’s prosecutor in that case but he acted in favor of his supporter who was charged with violating the people’s law.

More recently, Labrador has taken action against some of his own clients in apparent violation of his oath and Bar ethical rules. Labrador served long lists of demands for records upon the Director of the Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW) and two other employees, without any prior notice or legal justification. The action appeared to have been instigated by the Idaho Freedom Foundation and egged on by a publication called the Idaho Tribune. That publication headlined a March 22 article, “ KINDERGATE: Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Caught Misappropriating $30M Tax Dollars — Insiders Say Scandal May Lead Back To Governor’s Office,” in an apparent attempt to besmirch the Governor. One might wonder if this is a prelude to another Labrador shot at the Governor’s office.

The IDHW director filed an action in district Court to nip Labrador’s aggressive action in the bud—a strange thing to be forced to do because of the misconduct of his own official lawyer. The Director then revealed that Labrador had been hounding him for records about a child protection case involving another Labrador pal, Diego Rodriguez. Mr. Rodriguez, a sidekick of Ammon Bundy, is the grandfather of the child, whose parents have indicated an intent to sue the state for damages. The Director rightly refused to hand over the records because of Labrador’s clear-cut conflict of interest.

It is unknown why Labrador would repeatedly risk disciplinary action for taking the side of his friends and supporters over the interests of his clients, but it is extremely troubling. There may be other concerning situations that have not yet come to public attention. It is hoped that at some point Labrador will acquaint himself with the laws and rules that govern his new position and decide to scrupulously observe them.

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8 thoughts on “A civics lesson for Idaho’s new Attorney General”

  1. Apparently ethical standards don’t apply to the AG, or even US SupremeCourt justices… what a sad state of affairs.

  2. I just don’t get it! It’s not hard to follow the rules and really act as the attorney for the state and to be ethical! Labrador/Thomas exactly alike!

    As for the U.S. Supreme Court, now there is an institution that seems to be ethically challenged with at least one justice who can be bought and has no ethics at all!

    1. Be easy on Justice Thomas, Dan. He just can’t interpret the instructions for reporting his graft. Just like he missed that language in the Second Amendment about a “well regulated militia.”

  3. Raul acts like a prosecutor for a banana republic. I was appalled by his neglect responding to our democratic legislators. He licked the boots of the house State Affairs Chairman as well as his previous employer Representative Skug while grandstanding the minority members of the same committee in this first year of office. I don’t have much confidence that the Idaho Bar would discipline the AG for ethical violations. Which is another indication of how little confidence there is in Idaho top law enforcement officer. Thanks for keeping we the people informed.

  4. Bravo! Very straight talk and spot on! I applaud you for your candid opinion about the Attorney General. I also thank you for your lifelong service to the country through one form of public service or another. You’re a three-time veteran! Keep up the good fight and keep one eye open…..✌️

    1. Thanks for your kind comments, Les. I’m convinced that reasonable Idahoans are going to take their government back from the troublemakers. Next year’s election will surprise the extremists. My best, Jim

      1. Oh I do hope you are right about taking Idaho back. They’ve turned Idaho into Texas of the north. Raul LaBrador has always been a snake.

        1. Well Jackie, I grew up with rattlesnakes. I find your comparison of AG Labrador to snakes problematic. Snakes are honest and serve a useful role in God’s creation. This stuffed shirt AG has always been a lying and conniving detriment to a balanced and functioning society.
          As for your comparison of Idaho to Texas, methinks you are too hard on Texas and too easy on what Idaho is now. The phrase “Welcome to Idaho: the Mississippi of the Northwest” has come true. The rise of the old confederacy has taken hold. carpetbaggers from the south have poisoned this beautiful land. Just a thought.

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