The Madison County Sheriff's Office purchased weapons and a car after the sheriff begged for a fee hike.

The Madison County Sheriff’s Office purchased weapons and a car after the sheriff begged for a fee hike.

The Madison County Sheriff’s Office used concealed permit cash to purchase guns just months after the agency’s leading man won a permit fee hike from commissioners.

The agency spent $2,339 at Red’s Trading Post in Twin Falls in September 2013, just two months after Sheriff Roy Klinger persuaded Madison commissioners to raise each permit fee by $20.

Madison’s three commissioners voted unanimously to approve the rate hikes at its July 2, 2013, meeting.

Klingler made his case for a rate hike just a week earlier in a Rexburg newspaper.

“We can’t keep up,” Klingler said, warning commissioners his office couldn’t handle the pace of increased concealed permit applications. At the time, Madison residents enjoyed a $54 fee, significantly lower than fees charged by neighboring counties.

Klinger was the sole voice speaking for the fee hike at the commission’s first meeting on the issue, held June 24, 2013.

Minutes from that meeting show the thrust of Klingler’s argument:

The Sheriff stated he has tried to keep the fees as low as possible, but it is the cost of doing business. The fees are absolutely needed to make the budget work and they do run them in batches.

Klingler’s office had come under fire recently after IdahoReporter.com first revealed the agency spent concealed weapon permit fee cash on carpet, tile, bark, then guns and a car.

Klingler defended his agency Wednesday.

“It just is absolutely crazy. I would never, ever think of spending taxpayers’ money inappropriately,” he said.

He also intimated his critics have a nefarious agenda.

“There’s absolutely no wrongdoing. This is a group of people who’ve got an axe to grind,” Klingler told an area paper.

The sheriff previously accused detractors of waging a “hate campaign against government/Law enforcement” in a social media post.

Records turned over to IdahoReporter.com revealed the agency has spent more than $60,000 on expenses not directly related to concealed weapons permit administration since 2011, including two carpet purchases and one outlay for tile in the office. Klingler characterized those expenses as necessary upkeep for his agency and said his office vetted the purchases through the county’s legal team.

He also said critics focused only on larger purchases, but ignored how long his agency saved to be able to spend on the big-ticket items.

Indeed, the sheriff’s office held $10,747 in its concealed weapons permit account in July 2013, when the fee increase took effect. His agency ended 2013 with $12,563 in the dedicated account.

That amount grew through 2014, hitting a peak at $20,215 on September 30, 2014. A month later, Klingler’s office purchased a used Chevrolet Cruze for a civil deputy, dropping $14,270 on the purchase.

One of the sheriff’s leading critics, Idaho Second Amendment Alliance President Greg Pruett, slammed Klingler for the fee hike.

“Had the sheriff not been spending CWP money on non-CWP items he would have been able to balance out the fee increase from the state,” Pruett said.

While Pruett and Klingler agree on permitless carry, the ISAA president said Klingler needs to take action to ease the burden on Idaho’s gun owners.

“The ISAA is here to protect Idaho gun owners and regardless of our agreement on permitless carry, we felt it necessary to bring this issue to light,” Pruett said with a nod towards Klinger’s advocacy for statewide permitless carry.

See Madison’s 2013 financial records below:

Madison County Sheriff’s Office 2013 bank documents by DustinHurst

Madison County Sheriff’s Office 2013 financials part II by DustinHurst

Note: The article originally said Red’s Trading Post was located in Rexburg. It’s actually in Twin Falls. IdahoReporter.com updated the content and regrets the error. 

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