When Gary Raney was re-elected as Sheriff of Idaho’s Ada County in 2012, voters who made that unfortunate choice expected that he would remain in office until the end of his term. Most of them probably didn’t anticipate that Raney would spend the next two years auditioning for a lucrative sinecure with the federal Justice Department, and then announce his state-subsidized retirement when his pension triggers were pulled.
In making his retirement announcement on April 24, Raney displayed the eagerness of an understudy in an off-Broadway production who had just gotten his big break.
“It’s been an absolutely wonderful career and I still love my job to this day,” Raney gushed at a press conference in the fashion of a starlet accepting an award. “I love the people I work with, and that’s really what job happiness is…. But there’s a time for everything. When I first took office as sheriff, I said that when I’ve taken the Sheriff’s Office where I can take it and I’ve done what I wanted to do, then I’ll move on and do something else.”
If Raney were a public servant and a man of his word, he would admit that the proper time for leaving office would have been at the end of the term he had promised to serve – unless, of course, a sufficient number of disgusted and sound-minded people in Ada County had joined the movement to recall him from office. On the evidence Raney has presented it’s clear that the interests of his constituents played no role whatsoever in his decision to retire – with a tax victim-subsidized pension –a 52 years of age.
Raney explained that there were five factors – in addition to being fully vested in his state pension, of course – behind his decision:
“I wanted to continue to learn. I wanted to continue to be relevant in making change. I wanted to be able to set my own schedule. And whatever I did, it’s got to be fun, because life is too short.”
The retirement notice Raney sent to the Ada County reflected the same irrepressible narcissism: Of the roughly 300 words contained in that letter, 61 of them were the first-person singular vertical pronoun, “I.”
Nestled within this Obama-grade masterpiece of self-preoccupation was a failed attempt at self-effacement: “No leader, and certainly no elected official, should stay too long.” This is certainly true, particularly for people ill-suited for positions of responsibility in the first place.
It’s worth reiterating that the appropriate time to make an announcement of that kind would have been prior to the 2012 election. It must also be emphasized that Raney’s resignation isn’t akin to Cincinnatus putting his hand back to the plow, but rather the act of a cynical careerist exploiting new opportunities in the coercive sector. On July 1, Raney will begin his new gig as a consultant to police agencies in Idaho that apply for federal “help.”
Many, perhaps most, Idaho residents who are concerned about civil liberties and criminal justice issues are understandably worried about federalization of nominally local law enforcement agencies. Most of the state’s 44 elected sheriffs have expressed specific concerns about the prospect of new federal anti-gun rights measures.
Raney, by way of contrast, is a federal supremacist who sees “local” law enforcement agencies as retail franchises of the centralized homeland security state. If Congress had enacted anti-gun measures, or Obama had imposed them by decree, Raney would have done the bidding of Washington, irrespective of the price imposed on his Ada County constituents.
“I did not swear to uphold just part of the Constitution,” Raney continued, before tacitly promising to do precisely that. Although the Constitution “includes the right to keep and bear arms … it also includes the `supremacy clause’ that says that every state shall abide by the laws passed by our Congress.” On this construction, if the federal government imposes measures nullifying the innate right to armed self-defense – which exists independent of any constitution or legislative enactment – it is the duty of law enforcement officers to secure compliance, and to imprison or liquidate those who refuse to submit.
Despite his personal opposition to “some of the gun control measures currently under consideration, my oath requires me to uphold the laws that are passed by our federal and state representatives,” concluded Raney, thereby demonstrating that for him the “supremacy clause” is the only part of the Constitution that matters.
Raney’s invocation of the supposed duty to execute the will of the central government, however odious, brought to mind an editorial published a while ago by the Telegraph and Democrat Review of Alton, Illinois:
“The law in question may be defective – it may, in some particulars, be unnecessarily severe; its operation may, in a few cases, prove oppressive, perhaps unjust. But so long as it shall remain on the statute book of the United States, it will be the bounden duty of every good citizen to interpose no resistance to its execution.”
That editorial was published on November 22, 1850, and the law to which it referred was the Fugitive Slave Act, under which local sheriffs and constables of Gary Raney’s ilk tracked down human beings who had fled from chattel slavery – or free black men who were falsely described as “escaped slaves” -- and delivered them into the hands of others who claimed to own them.
If Idaho had been part of the Union in 1850, and Gary Raney had been Sheriff of Ada County, he would have enforced the Fugitive Slave Law with the same avidity he has displayed in enforcing the federal narcotics laws that are distant but undeniable kindred to that repellent measure.
Shortly before Raney published his paean to federal supremacy, the Idaho State Legislature passed HB 219, which would have made it a misdemeanor offense for any peace officer in the state to participate in federal civilian disarmament initiatives. That measure, astoundingly, enjoyed the support of the rank-and-file of Idaho’s Fraternal Order of Police and nearly every member of the Idaho Sheriffs Association. Raney’s anti-gun perspective was very much a minority view within the organization over which he presided, but this didn’t deter him from setting out to scuttle the bill.
Raney deployed ISA Executive Director Vaughn Killeen – the former Ada County Sheriff who had mentored him – and Mike Kane to lobby the senate against HB 219. Killeen and Kane cornered key senators and rehearsed the litany of supposed horrors that would descend if the legislature offended the Feds – such as curtailment of Justice Department grants and perhaps even an end to the officially sanctioned plunder called “civil asset forfeiture.”
Raney’s lobbyists succeeded in killing the bill in the senate – and they did so without filing the proper lobbyist disclosure forms.
When the legislative session ended in May, Rep. Mark Patterson, who had sponsored the bill, filed a complaint against Kane and Killeen. Following an inquiry by Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, Kane grudgingly provided an amended lobbying report on May 15 – but that document still didn’t disclose his work on HB 219. After Rep. Patterson submitted a second complaint, Kane was compelled to fill out a second amended report and register as a lobbyist – long after Raney had achieved his objective.
Patterson still wasn’t satisfied. On May 21, 2013, he filed a complaint with Secretary of State Ysura about Raney’s illicit lobbying effort. Acting in his official capacity Patterson also dispatched a letter to Raney’s office demanding “the accounting records for the Idaho Sheriffs’ Association” dealing with expenses incurred by the organization’s lobbying effort, in order to determine if taxpayer funds had been illegally used to defeat the bill.
On the following day, Raney sent Patterson notice that he was revoking the state representative’s concealed weapons license (CWL), supposedly because Patterson hadn’t disclosed a withheld judgment for an assault charge nearly forty years earlier.
That withheld judgment had been expunged from Patterson’s record, which meant that he was not required to disclose it. In similar fashion, Raney was not allowed to use that judgment to deny Patterson’s application. Under Idaho law, a withheld judgment is not an impediment to receiving a CWL. Furthermore, Raney became aware of Patterson’s withheld judgment no later than 2007, when he first issued his CWL, and was reminded of it through a background check run in 2012 when Patterson renewed that license.
In his notice to Patterson – which, once again, was sent on the day the sheriff received official correspondence regarding his own misconduct – Raney said that the representative could challenge the decision in an administrative hearing scheduled for August 26. During the intervening weeks, Rep. Judy Boyle, a political ally of Patterson, sent a letter to the Attorney General’s office requesting clarification about the state’s CWL statute as it applies to withheld judgments. In its reply the AG’s office confirmed that a withheld judgment is not a disqualification for a CWL.
Following the August 26 hearing, Patterson was told that he could expect a final decision within two weeks. Without explanation, that deadline was moved back to October 29. Just hours before receiving the final decision from Raney’s office, Patterson received an email from Idaho Statesman reporter Dan Popkey, who said that he had learned that the sheriff’s office had pulled his CWL and that wanted to discuss the representative’s “criminal past.”
Popkey’s email about the outcome of the administrative hearing came before Patterson received the news from his own attorney. The only possible source for that information was Raney’s office. The same is true of the legally protected information in Patterson’s NCIC report, the “raw” FBI file used in the background checks following his CWL application.
Five days before sending his email to Patterson, Popkey contacted the Clerk of Florida’s 13th Circuit Court to request information about the 1974 case, in which a 21-year-old Patterson, accused of sexual assault by an emotionally disturbed woman who had lost custody of five children and just been released from a mental hospital, pleaded guilty to a charge of “assault with intent to rape.”
As it turned out, Patterson didn’t have to wait five years. His conviction was vacated by Cole – who, once again, was not well-acquainted with the concept of leniency – in July 1976, after a private investigator hired by Patterson’s family provided evidence that the alleged victim had recanted her accusation.
Rape and attempted rape are vile, horrendous crimes, irrespective of the background or character of the victim. Mark Patterson never committed that offense, or anything akin to it. His qualified guilty plea was wrung from him following a period of pre-trial detention during which he was beaten and threatened with sexual assault.
|Mark Patterson and his family.|
After Judge Cole released him from probation three years early, Patterson was an innocent man, both in law and in fact. Over the intervening decades, Patterson built a career in the productive sector, creating a hugely successful business in Boise. After he was financially secure, he married -- somewhat later in life than most Idaho residents -- and started a family. He was elected to the Idaho Legislature as a "Tea Party"-aligned conservative in 2012.
His long-resolved legal proceedings left a residue in an FBI database, however, which offered an ethically deprived sheriff the means to retaliate against him decades later, with the help of a reporter who was similarly unhindered by scruples.
In a November 1, 2013 conversation with Rep. Boyle, Popkey reportedly said that “somebody, simply out of a sense of duty … called Sheriff Raney and told him that he knew Mark Patterson had lied on his CWL [application] and directed Raney to this specific 40-year-old case in Florida.”
The fact that Patterson had a CWL was not public knowledge. His personal information in the NCIC database was confidential and protected by federal and state law. The only people who would have known about these matters are Raney and a few of his subordinates. In response to an inquiry Raney insisted to me that “the actions by the Sheriff’s Office followed the law, including protecting personal information relevant to concealed weapons permits.”
Yet somehow, according to the story both Raney and Popkey have told, some still-unnamed person, burdened with pious purpose and propelled by civic resolve, provided Raney with this crucial and long-ignored intelligence on the precise day that he could use it to retaliate against a state legislator who was investigating the sheriff’s misconduct.
Whoever leaked that material to Popkey committed a criminal offense, but on this occasion Raney’s zeal for enforcing the law failed him. Once Patterson had been traduced as a “rapist” in the local and global media, Raney insisted that the matter was “closed” – without explaining what he had done to plug this leak of protected information, or identifying those responsible for granting and renewing Patterson’s CWL despite his supposed omissions.
|Smeared and threatened: Rep. Boyle.|
Rather than cleaning up affairs in his own office, Raney expanded the compass of his retaliation to include Rep. Boyle.
In an October 31, 2013 letter to Idaho House Speaker Scott Bedke, Raney claimed that Boyle’s letter to the Attorney General inquiring about the CWL conferred a personal benefit on Patterson in “violation of the Ethics in Government Act.” He also suggested that Boyle had committed “theft through diversion,” and demanded that she face an ethics investigation.
Forcedout of the legislature and driven from the state after his reputation was ruined, Patterson filed notice of an impending lawsuit against Raney and Popkey. Shortly after that tort claim was filed, Popkey resigned from the Statesman and took a new position with Republican Congressman Raul Labrador. Now Raney is making an unexpected career change of his own. There are indications that in his new federal position Raney will continue to indulge his well-established appetite for retaliation against critics.
In 2010, Raney was appointed by Attorney General Eric Holder to serve as one of two sheriffs on the Advisory Board of the National Institute of Corrections. (The other sheriff on that board, interestingly, is Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glantz, whose corrupt departmenthas been the focus of a great deal of recent media attention.) More recently he was appointed chair of the Washington-based Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI), a public-private partnership within the prison-industrial complex.
During a recent online exchange, former Justice Department official Dennis Bartlett, Executive Director of the American Bail Coalition (ABC), suggested that Raney’s new federal job would require that he resign from his position at the PJI.
“No, Dennis, [I] won’t be leaving PJI,” Raney replied. “In fact, I will be investigating the widespread corruption in the commercial bail industry and your unethical blood-sucking practices. I’ll be in touch.”
That investigation would be an exercise in turf warfare, rather than an effort to serve the public interest. The PJI and ABC lobby on behalf of competing cliques of prison industry profiteers.
Raney’s smug threat reflects the fact that as a Justice Department employee, he will have the advantage of enforcement “authority” and “qualified immunity” in pursuing the interests of his corporatist tribe. He will also be able to make use of a professional network he has built over four decades of employment as part of the enforcement caste.
During his teenage years, Raney was recruited by the Police Explorers, which is sort of a Komsomol for American youths who want to make a career in the state’s punitive apparatus. Five years later he became a reserve officer, and he has never had a job in the productive sector.
As sheriff, Raney never gave the Feds cause to worry that he would interpose against them on behalf of the rights and interests of his constituents. The Feds appreciate a sheriff who knows the length of his leash and licks the hand that fills his dish. Raney’s canine subservience explains why the Feds are taking such good care of him now.
UPDATE: Raney Will Retain His Place Within The Tax-Feeding "One Percent"
Idaho's average household income last year was a little less than $48,000. As a 52-year-old retiree in Idaho's Public Employee Retiree System, Raney will be paid $64,000 a year, notes Dustin Hurst of IdahoReporter.com. If he remains in his new federal position for at least three years he will also qualify for a smaller federal pension.
As of 2012, Raney's salary was at least $115,535, which made him one of the highest-paid figures within Idaho's parasite class. Through pension "double-dipping" he will continue to be paid a very large portion of that amount -- in addition to whatever windfalls he will enjoy from his connections within the coercive sector.
"The Drug War and the Prison-Industrial Complex"
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