A Madison County deputy prosecuting attorney told county commissioners in 2013 the sheriff there must use concealed weapons fees only for administering the licenses.
Audio given to IdahoReporter.com reveals attorney Troy Evans explaining Idaho’s law governing how sheriffs handle permit fees during a June 24, 2013, commissioners meeting.
In that meeting, Sheriff Roy Klingler made the case for boosting the fees, which commissioners did a week later.
The audio, authenticated by Madison County Clerk Kim Muir, may expose an inconvenient truth for Klingler’s office, under fire recently for using fees generated from concealed weapons permit purchases to buy guns, a car and tile and carpet for office and training floors.
“It’s in this code section; the sheriff may collect any additional fees necessary to cover the processing costs required by state or federal agency, or department, and the cost of materials lawfully required by the state agency or department,” Evans told commissioners.
“So, you can cover costs, but I don’t see anything that says we should make money off of,” Evans added, before Commissioner Todd Smith cut off the attorney.
“I agree with that,” Smith said.
“So, my guess would be, if we’re making money on out-of-county residents, I don’t think that’s what the purpose of the statute is,” Evans added just moments later. “It is just to cover costs.”
Smith, reached by phone Tuesday, didn’t remember the exchange, but said it may have happened. “I don’t remember saying that, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t,” Smith said.
The commissioner wouldn’t offer many thoughts on the sheriff’s office, other than to give his support. “I would hope he followed the law on it,” Smith said. “Roy’s a great sheriff; I’m sure he did.”
Smith added another thought directly conflicting with Klingler’s previous comments defending the purchases. “All of those bill are not approved by us as part of these claims,” Smith said, noting Idaho law allows county sheriffs to have separate bank accounts for fees.
Klingler told the Rexburg Standard Journal a different story. “And then every little thing has to be approved by the commissioners. It’s a pretty bulletproof process, really, and then it’s all audited,” the sheriff told the paper last week.
Evans did not return a call for comment Tuesday. The attorney may have reversed course on the law’s narrowness. “I would say that the statute is broad,” Evans told the Standard Journal days ago, referring to the same code section he explained to commissioners in 2013.
The deputy prosecutor’s June 2013 comments came just months before the sheriff’s office spent $2,339 to purchase pistols at a gun store in Twin Falls. A few months after that, the office spent more than $14,000 to purchase a used car for a civil deputy.
Critics aren’t backing down, despite Klingler accusing them of waging a “hate campaign” against his office and government in general. Gun rights activist Dan Roberts, a 25-year Madison County resident, announced Tuesday he will soon ask Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden to formally investigate Klingler’s office and its spending decisions.