It did not take long for newly-elected Idaho Attorney General Raul Labrador to be confronted by two troubling conflict of interest situations. He mishandled the first case and will soon have to act on the second. The two cases will give Idahoans a flavor of the manner in which he will operate the AG office during his tenure.
During his first week as AG, Labrador moved to dismiss a misdemeanor trespassing charge against Sara Brady, a prominent supporter of his campaign. Brady was charged with trespassing by the city of Meridian for allegedly refusing to leave a playground the city had closed to curb the spread of COVID-19. Because the city’s contract prosecutor had a conflict of interest concern, the AG’s office agreed to handle the prosecution. Labrador’s office presented some feeble grounds to justify the dismissal, but there was certainly enough evidence for a jury to convict Brady. The elements of the charge were documented on video. Brady had unsuccessfully sought dismissal of the charge in lengthy court proceedings. Fortuitously for Brady, the trial was scheduled for after the change of administration, partly because of COVID-19 and partly because of delays occasioned by Brady’s attorneys.
City officials were caught off guard by the dismissal. Meridian Mayor Roger Simison said Labrador’s “apparent philosophy to selectively dismiss cases of his choosing and endorse illegal behavior is abhorrent.” Police Chief Tracy Basterrechia expressed concern about the appearance of “political grandstanding.”