November surprise — Part I

Seeking transparency

By Luke Omodt,
County Commissioner Dist. 3
Reader Contributor

On Oct. 30, 2023, Deputy Prosecutor Scott Bauer submitted a notice of tort claim asserting defamation against Bonner County Clerk Michael Rosedale and Bonner County seeking $500,000 in damages. Mr. Bauer is already suing the Bonner County board of commissioners, (BOCC) and Bonner County for similar reasons for $3 million. Bauer, who used to represent the BOCC, works for Prosecutor Louis Marshall and currently provides legal counsel for his father-in-law, Sheriff Daryl Wheeler.  

According to the Idaho Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 1.7 Conflict of Interest Current Clients: “Loyalty and independent judgment are essential elements in the lawyer’s relationship to a client … The Lawyer’s own interests should not be permitted to have an adverse effect on representation of a client.” 

Luke Omodt. File photo.

The only way in which an attorney can represent a client with whom there exists a conflict of interest is, “each affected client gives informed consent, confirmed in writing.” 

I have 3.5 million reasons why I have not given informed consent to Bonner County being represented by an attorney who is suing Bonner County providing the BOCC legal advice. Early in my first term as a county commissioner, the BOCC discussed with Marshall in executive session our apprehension and unwillingness to be represented by Bauer because of his current tort claim — lawsuit — against the Bonner County taxpayers.

On March 2, 2023, Bauer wrote to Commissioner Asia Williams: 

Please call me to discuss and send me any information regarding matters you want Louis Marshall to assist you on. I will function as a paralegal to Louis gathering information and generating preliminary draft documents for Louis regarding any matters you want Louis to work on for you. 

Louis Marshall will provide you with legal recommendations and other legal work-product, but I will first interface with you on these matters for efficiency’s sake. 

At all times I will endeavour to ensure that any substantive opinions, recommendations, or actions coming for the legal department are those of Louis Marshal’s and not my own. Nevertheless, I will provide substantial preliminary assistance to Louis on these matters for efficiency’s sake. 

It is my understanding that you have been fully advised of my litigation against Bonner County and give your informed consent to use me only in a paralegal capacity as an individual commissioner on matters that Louis Marshal approves are appropriate such as the EMS matter previously discussed. 

I will be acting in a paralegal capacity to Louis on your matters as you function in the role of an individual county commissioner entitled to preliminary legal advice in your individual county commissioner capacity. 

Thank you, D. Scott Bauer Civil Deputy Prosecutor [sic]

The BOCC had no knowledge of this attorney-client relationship. This is unfortunately very similar to the BOCC having no knowledge of the unauthorized surveillance of our offices and executive sessions by Bonner County sheriff’s deputies assigned in a first-of-its-kind protection detail funded by taxpayers — which is unfortunately similar to local government officials who talk of transparency while paywalling and stonewalling public record requests regarding the expenditure of taxpayer funds.

Idaho Code 31-802 charges county commissioners: “To supervise the official conduct of all county officers, and appointed boards or commissions of the county charged with assessing, collecting, safekeeping, management or disbursement of the public moneys and revenues; see that they faithfully perform their duties; direct prosecution for delinquencies; approve the official bonds of county officers, and when necessary, require them to make reports, and to present their books and accounts for inspection.”

I am committed to safeguarding taxpayer dollars and will not stop in my efforts seeking transparency and fiscal sanity. If you have questions, send them my way at [email protected]. Bonner County is home.

Luke Omodt represents District 3 on the Bonner County board of commissioners, comprising the areas immediately north of Sandpoint and the eastern portion of the county.