The Idaho House of Representatives has expelled Rep. John Green (R-Post Falls) just one day after his conviction on a federal tax fraud charge.
The vote was unanimous, with five members absent, including Reps. Brent Crane (R-Nampa), Terry Gestrin (R-Donnely), Tammy Nicols (R-Middleton), and Britt Raybould (R-Rexburg). Green’s substitute, Tim Kastning, was also not present.
“Today was a solemn and difficult day for the Idaho House of Representatives,” House Speaker Scott Bedke (R-Oakley) said in a press conference following the vote.
It’s the first time a member of the Idaho legislature has ever been expelled, according to Legislative Librarian Eric Glover.
House Republicans met for two hours prior to the expulsion vote, where Bedke said there was some initial pushback to kicking Green out of the legislature.
He said he had previously spoken with Green about resigning, but didn’t directly answer a question about whether he had asked him to resign. “I didn’t want him to feel undue pressure from me,” Bedke said.
Despite the caucus’s differences, the speaker said they were ultimately united.
“On our watch we wanted to do our constitutional and statutory duty and I think we’ve performed that today.”
Assistant Chief Deputy Attorney General Brian Kane sent a letter to Bedke Thursday morning prior to the vote, writing that Green had lost his qualification to hold his legislative seat.
The Idaho Constitution bars anyone convicted of a felony from serving in public office before going through the process of restoring their civil rights.
Kane wrote, “Although Representative Green may be released from custody while his sentencing is pending, he remains convicted. Similarly, although Representative Green may appeal his conviction and be released from custody pending his appeal, he remains convicted.”
A Dallas jury found Green guilty Wednesday of a money laundering scheme with his clients who sent him gold coins and cash to deposit into bank accounts associated with his law practice. He then used those funds to pay their personal expenses, all while avoiding paying taxes on that money.
Green, who said he would not step down Wednesday, had planned to return to Boise on Monday. He told the Associated Press that he wouldn’t defend his legislative seat this fall, saying, “I'll probably get sent to do some time.”
Green faces up to five years in prison when he’s sentenced.
House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel (D-Boise) says she was glad that the issue was ultimately taken care of, though she was prepared to force an expulsion vote should it have come to it.
“One way or another this had to get resolved and resolved quickly because I don’t think any of us wanted to be complicit in an ongoing constitutional violation,” Rubel said.
Green’s seat will remain vacant while Republicans in Legislative District 2, which includes Hayden Lake and rural parts of Kootenai County, will take applications from those interested in replacing Green.
Bedke says he’s been in contact with the governor’s office and local Republican officials who have promised to move quickly to fill the vacancy.
That group will submit three names to Gov. Brad Little (R) who will then have 14 days to select his replacement through the end of his term.
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