Rep. Kelley Packer, R-McCammon, sought job leads in the Treasure Valley from elected officials and legislative lobbyists.
A two-term House member running for re-election this year, Packer made her appeal almost one year ago in a mass message from a private email account. She wrote lobbyists and lawmakers for job-hunting assistance after her husband was transferred from the now-shuttered Pocatello U.S. Postal Service processing center to the agency’s Boise facility.
On April 29, 2015, Packer wrote, “I’m reaching out to you to ask for your help in locating a new career for me in the Treasure Valley.” She went on, “I would greatly appreciate any help you can give me in finding something for me to do there.”
In the message, Packer described her business experience and credentials, and cited her business management degree, complete with an emphasis in marketing. Note: At article’s end is the complete email message.
Packer also highlighted her public service.
She wrote, “In my spare time, I also function as the Representative for District 28, a job that I love! 😉 I have worked hard to successfully manage the important responsibilities that are a part of that honor.”
At the end of her email, Packer reiterated her request for assistance.
“Please feel free to email me any leads, give me a call, or give my information to anyone you may know is looking for a hard working, dependable employee.”
The McCammon Republican expounded upon her 2015 message to legislators and lobbyists in an email today to IdahoReporter.com.
She wrote, “I thought I was moving, because my husband had been transferred to Boise with the USPS; however, he was transferred back to Pocatello on August 8th and we are no longer moving/I am no longer looking.”
IdahoReporter.com questioned Packer further about contacting lobbyists and elected officials for job leads and if she saw a possible ethical problem in her email.
“No, I contacted my friends in Boise (and most everyone I know there is an elected official or lobbyist), with my private email to explain my situation and to ask for them to keep their eyes and ears open for any possible jobs,” Packer explained.
She added that she didn’t ask for anything out of the ordinary.
“I explained that I wasn’t asking for any favors, but if anyone knew of something that I could apply for, I would appreciate the help,” she wrote Thursday.
Boise State University political science professor Scott Yenor said he believes Packer’s request wasn’t inappropriate.
“As long as there is no quid pro quo involved, I would see nothing wrong with this,” Yenor said. “There is a temptation for wrong no doubt, but legislators in Idaho do not have full time jobs.”
Yenor, a member of the Idaho Freedom Foundation’s Board of Scholars, added,
“Finding leads would not seem beyond the pale.” However, Yenor wrote, “A lead that led to a job that led to a change in voting–that would be a problem.”
Dr. Hana S. Callaghan, Director of Government Ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at California’s Santa Clara University wouldn’t comment directly on Packer’s request, but did remark generally about similar situations.
“The fact that we are dealing with lobbyist gives rise to possible appearance of impropriety,” Callaghan told IdahoReporter.com Wednesday. “In maintaining that public trust, perceptions are important.”
She added that public officials must use extra care to ensure public trust in government. Public officials officials have a fiduciary duty to put their public interests before their own,” Callaghan said. “The appearance of loyalty is important to maintain the public trust.”
Rep. Kelley Packer’s April 29, 2015, email to elected officials and lobbyists:
IdahoReporter.com April 7, 2016, email question to Rep. Packer:
Thanks for that response. I think, though, that there’s a larger issue here. You, a sitting legislator, asked elected officials and lobbyists for help finding a job. That seems to cross an ethical boundary. Do you agree, or at least see the appearance of impropriety?
Rep. Kelley Packer’s April 7, 2016, response to IdahoReporter.com:
No, I contacted my friends in Boise (and most everyone I know there is an elected official or lobbyist), with my private email to explain my situation and to ask for them to keep their eyes and ears open for any possible jobs. I explained that I wasn’t asking for any favors, but if anyone knew of something that I could apply for, I would appreciate the help. I did the same thing that everyone does when they’re looking for a new job. I went to people I knew for help with the process. I do not know very many people in that area, but I did reach out to those I knew and trusted…not all elected officials and not all lobbyists, just those that I considered to be friends and likely to help point me toward some possibilities. I guarantee that you, and everyone, has and will do the same thing throughout their lives. We all reach out to those we know, for help when it’s needed.
What’s sad, is that because the Idaho Freedom Foundation dislikes me and sees my opinion of them as a threat, they’re looking for anyway possible to discredit me and make me look bad. There’s no doubt in my mind that you’ll twist this in the way you want to reach your intended purpose.