BOISE — A special prosecutor will review if Ada County commissioners violated open meeting laws before appointing former U.S. Congressman Raúl Labrador to the Central District Health board.
Ada County Prosecutor Jan Bennetts has asked Canyon County Prosecutor Bryan Taylor to act as a special prosecutor in the review, to which he’s agreed.
“My office is typically responsible for reviewing cases involving allegations of open meeting violations. However, when those allegations involve my clients, the Ada County Commissioners, I have a conflict disqualifying me from reviewing the matter,” Bennetts said in a statement.
Commissioner Kendra Kenyon raised the concern of a possible violation during Tuesday’s Board of Commissioners meeting. Kenyon said she was concerned by the apparent out-of-meeting discussions between newly elected Commissioners Rod Beck and Ryan Davidson about placing Labrador onto the CDH board.
“That is worrisome to me, and the board needs to discuss issues like this,” Kenyon said. “And since this is our first day of business I would just like trying to have that conversation, and don’t think it’s OK for the two of you to make those decisions outside of a quorum like this. The fact it’s been teed up is worrisome to me.”
Beck, who along with Davidson was sworn in Monday, had a conversation with Labrador about the CDH board in December, according to a Tuesday press release from Ada County.
“At that time, Mr. Labrador expressed interest in the position but did not give Commissioner Beck a final decision,” the release said. “Commissioner Beck did not receive confirmation from Mr. Labrador until the afternoon of Friday, Jan. 8, 2021.”
The release said Davidson had anticipated serving on the CDH board before the November 2020 election, but learned that people other than commissioners could be appointed to the board. Davidson told then-candidate Beck that he did not want to serve on the board. Davidson also said he did not recall having a recent conversation with Beck about the CDH appointment.
“This is an active process in this unique situation,” Davidson said during Tuesday’s meeting. “We were approached by Mr. Labrador, and based on his experience and the critical situation we are in right now, it leans toward expediting this appointment.”
However, the agenda for next Tuesday’s Board of Commissioners meeting shows that Labrador’s appointment is not yet set in stone. The agenda has an item for the “Reconsideration of Central Health District Board Appointment,” that will offer Kenyon a chance to submit an additional candidate for consideration alongside Labrador.
There will be a new vote on the appointment, the agenda says.
“This revisiting of the process to appoint a member to the CDH board of health is an effort by the new board members to work collaboratively,” said Elizabeth Duncan, the spokeswoman for the Ada County Board of Commissioners. “While Chairman Beck and Commissioner Davidson are clear that no Open Meetings violation occurred, they are willing to make adjustments and accommodate the concerns of Commissioner Kenyon.”