2 Idaho lawmakers face investigation over affair allegations



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BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill has requested that legislative auditors investigate the travel expenses of two lawmakers facing allegations of having an extramarital affair.

Hill told The Associated Press on Thursday that auditors with the Legislative Services Office will begin reviewing the past three years of travel vouchers of Republicans Rep. Christy Perry of Nampa and Sen. Jim Guthrie of McCammon. Investigators will also look to see if the two breached any rules of ethical conduct.

"We want to do our due diligence," Hill said. "We want to know if there is any truth to these allegations of impropriety with public funds. So we're looking through travel vouchers, seeing if they went to the same conferences or meetings and seeing if anything matches up."

Meanwhile, Idaho State Police spokeswoman Teresa Baker said the agency is not involved in any investigation surrounding the allegations.

Accusations that Perry and Guthrie were involved in an affair first surfaced on a blog published Tuesday. Guthrie's wife, Barbara, told blogger Lance Earl that the affair had been going on for three years. Guthrie filed for divorce last summer, which was finalized in July, according to court documents.

Hill said that Guthrie has not confirmed the allegations, but he has talked to him several times since the accusations were made.

Guthrie did not respond to requests for comment. A voicemail account for Perry is currently full.

Only lawmakers can request for a formal ethics investigation against a fellow lawmaker. So far, none has been made. Instead, Hill described his request as an "informal investigation" that will likely influence any further action.

An ethics committee can be called in the case of a complaint that alleges conduct unbecoming of a House or Senate member. State law does not define what constitutes unbecoming conduct. Ethics complaints filed by lawmakers are not public until the committee concludes it has merit.

The last time an ethics committee was called to convene was in 2012 to investigate whether former Sen. Monty Pearce, a Republican from New Plymouth, properly disclosed a potential conflict of interest on several contested natural gas-related bills. The bipartisan committee unanimously voted to dismiss the charges after three days of hearings. Pearce then lost his seat while seeking re-election.

Both lawmakers are seeking re-election and face Democratic opponents. However, their legislative districts have consistently swung Republican. The two currently hold legislative leadership positions, with Perry overseeing the House Ways and Means Committee and Guthrie serving as vice-chair of the Senate Local Government and Taxation Committee.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Kimberlee Kruesi

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