Not backing down: Patterson tells reporter he’ll revive gun bill

Boise Republican Rep. Mark Patterson tells reporter Ben Swann that he plans to revive House Bill 219, his failed gun rights bill that he says triggered Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney to try to silence him by revoking Patterson’s concealed weapons license.

In his first published interview since Sunday’s Statesman story that included news of Patterson’s guilty plea to assault with intent to commit rape, Patterson said he’ll return with the bill. That assumed Patterson’s “political career survives,” Swann writes Wednesday. Patterson is a freshman halfway through a two-year term that expires Dec. 1, 2014.

Swann was in Boise last weekend keynoting the Treasure Valley Liberty Expo, which also featured Rep. Patterson speaking on the right to keep and bear arms.

Swann’s story on Patterson is titled, “Idaho lawmaker smeared as ‘rapist’ for standing up against federal gun grab?”

Writes Swann: “The release of this story to the Idaho Statesman seems to have clear political implications. To label the 61-year-old Patterson as a rapist, regardless of the fact that he has never been convicted of any crime, damages his career, his family, and his reputation.”

The Statesman has not labled Patterson a “rapist.” Instead, relying on court records viewable at IdahoStatesman.com, the newspaper has reported Patterson’s 1974 guilty plea to assault with intent to commit rape, for which he received a withheld judgement after completing probation in 1976. The Statesman also reported Patterson’s indictment for rape and subsequent acquittal in Ohio in 1977.

Patterson told the Statesman he was innocent and that “the cops lied.”

“I was a young kid,” he said. “I was charged with a crime I didn’t do. My attorney told me to take the deal. There would be no jail time, it would be off my record.”

Swann’s story covers much of the same ground of the original Statesman story, including Patterson’s questioning the use of tax dollars by the Idaho Sheriffs’ Association — which Raney leads this year — and other nonprofit entities including the Idaho Association of Counties and Association of Idaho Cities.

Patterson told the Statesman the organizations are illegal and that he hopes to introduce Legislation that will lead to their closure. He told Swann in a phone interview: “They funnel millions of dollars of taxpayer dollars and they refuse to tell anyone what they do. They don’t have to reveal publicly what they do with that money, but it is taxpayer money. There is no transparency and no accountability.”

Patterson’s HB 219 would have made it a misdemeanor for Idaho law enforcement officials to help enforce any new federal restrictions on semiautomatic firearms or ammunition or any new registration requirements. Raney opposed the bill and Patterson’s complaint to the secretary of state’s office forced two Idaho Sheriffs’ Association lobbyists into complying with Idaho’s Sunshine law.

The Statesman reported Sunday that Patterson wrote Raney on May 21 seeking financial records of the association. Raney received the letter May 22. That same day, Raney wrote Patterson to notify him he was moving to revoke his concealed weapons license. (Patterson received his first Idaho license in 2007. It was renewed in 2012, before he was elected to his first House term.)

Patterson cites the timing as proof Raney’s motive was retaliation: “This whole thing is to silence me, is to shut me down and silence me and get me the hell out of the way,” Patterson told the Statesman.

Swann recounts the same events, only mistakenly writes that Patterson’s letter was sent May 22. Raney told the Statesman the events were unconnected.

“The questions that Mr. Patterson raises and the allegations he makes are irrelevant to the fact that he lied on his initial application and his renewal application,” Raney said. “That, and only that, is the reason for our actions. … As to any retaliation, it is simply false and I presume an attempt to deflect the truth of the matter.”

Swann also republishes Raney’s statement.

Swann erroneously repeats Patterson’s claim that after his sentencing in Florida he “was allowed to leave the state with his father.”

Patterson said in a news release Sunday: “The case against me was so flimsy that the judge in the case did not levy a fine, jail time or even court costs. In fact, he allowed me to leave the state of Florida that very day with my father.”

Patterson had no discretion in the matter when he was sentenced on July 11, 1974. Judge Harry Coe III added a special condition to his probation: “MUST ACCOMPANY FATHER TO CINCINNATI ON 7/11/74.”

When Patterson spoke to the Statesman Oct. 31, his oral statement was consistent with the court record. “They wanted him to take me out of the state,” Patterson said.

Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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