Idaho Falls Republican Sen. Dean Mortimer will helm the special Senate Ethics Committee assigned to look into complaints lodged against New Plymouth Republican Sen. Monty Pearce, in particular his political leanings toward the oil and gas industry while holding a personal lease arrangement with an oil and gas exploration company.
Joining Mortimer on the ethics panel will be Republican Sens. Bert Brackett of Rogerson and Jim Hammond of Coeur d'Alene. Three Democrats will also be on the committee - Boise Sen. Elliot Werk, Pocatello Sen. Diane Bilyeu and Moscow Sen. Dan Schmidt.
The committee is expected to make a preliminary investigation into the complaint of possible conflict of interest. If the panel determines a possible violation, Pearce may request a hearing, after which the panel may recommend dismissal of the charges, reprimand, censure, or expulsion.
A copy of New Plymouth Republican Sen. Monty Pearce's lease with oil and gas explorers is making its way around the Idaho Statehouse today.
The agreement, dated November 2011, was filed with Payette County in December.
Pearce is under fire for his very public role as chairman of the Senate Resources and Environment Committee, which readily passed a series of industry-sponsored oil and gas bills, and for failing to disclose his private dealings with the industry. Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill has confirmed that an ethics panel will look into the possible conflict of interest.
In Wednesday's BW, we chronicled Pearce's continued support for the industry during the 2012 session.
You can take a look at Pearce's lease below.