Idaho earns ‘F’ for judicial financial disclosure

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The Center for Public Integrity evaluated the disclosure rules for judges in the highest state courts nationwide. The level of disclosure in the 50 states and the District of Columbia was poor, with 43 receiving failing grades, making it difficult for the public to identify potential conflicts of interest on the bench. Despite the lack of information in the public records, the Center’s investigation found nearly three dozen conflicts, questionable gifts and entanglements among top judges around the country. Here’s what the Center found in Idaho:

Strengths:

None.

Weaknesses:

Idaho, Montana and Utah have no public financial disclosure requirements for judges. But that could soon change. Jim Carlson, executive director of the Idaho Judicial Council, said the council recently proposed changes to the state’s code of judicial conduct, which sets guidelines for judicial behavior. If adopted — the state Supreme Court will soon decide whether or not to approve the Council’s amendments — the revised judicial code would require judges to publicly report income sources, honoraria and speaking fees, as well as gifts and travel reimbursements.

Highlights:

While there are currently no state statutes governing financial disclosure in Idaho, “I don’t think Idaho judges are unrestrained,” Carlson said. “We follow the judicial canons that prohibit judges from having conflicts” of interest. If a judge violates any of those canons, Carlson adds, “He can lose his job.”