The Idaho Attorney General’s office cleared Madison County Sheriff Roy Klinger and his staff of any wrongdoing after a Rexburg man filed a complaint about how the sheriff’s office spent concealed weapons license fees.
In a Jan. 22 letter to Rexburg resident Dan Roberts, Deputy Attorney General Paul R. Panther said, though Klinger and company did spend concealed weapons money on items not directly related to the issuance of concealed weapons permits, the agency had discretion to do that under Idaho law at the time.
An IdahoReporter.com investigation revealed Klingler and his staff used concealed weapons fee to purchase, among other items, a used car, tile and carpet for office space, bark for a gun range, and weapons for deputies.
In total, Klingler’s office spent more than $60,000 on items in 2013 and 2014 which Roberts felt inappropriate. Roberts, and the Idaho Second Amendment Alliance, believed that the concealed weapons law mandated the sheriff use the fees only to aid the concealed-permit handling process and nothing more.
Panther didn’t agree. He wrote, at that time Idaho state code allowed the sheriff to use the funds to enforce the law in Madison County; the language governing how to handle the money was not so narrow as to limit it to being spent on permit processing only.
Idaho lawmakers narrowed the code language last year so sheriff’s could only use fees to aid the permitting process. Since that law took effect on July 1, 2015, Panther said Klingler and his office have complied with the language and stopped spending fees on office-related expenses.
Panther explained in his letter, that compliance, coupled with the broad interpretation of the law’s old language, revealed “a lack of intent on the part of the Madison County Sheriff to violate this statute.”
Panther also cleared Klingler of two additional Roberts’ complaints: failure to follow proper budget and finance rules, plus perjury.