On Sen. Pearce's ethics investigation: Snake River Oil and Gas says senator's lease same as neighbors

The natural gas company that leased Republican Sen. Monty Pearce’s property for oil and gas drilling said the lease he signed was the same as others in Payette County.

“Sen. Pearce received exactly the same financial terms and lease conditions as did the dozens of his neighbors who also signed leases,” wrote John Foster, a spokesman for Snake River Oil and Gas, in an email responding to the Idaho Statesman.

Snake River Oil and Gas closed a lease agreement with Pearce for 288 acres of his ranch near New Plymouth Nov. 4. The lease became public after Pearce disclosed he had oil and gas leases since the 1980s just before he voted earlier this month for House Bill 464, which changed regulations for oil and gas drilling in Idaho.

The issue of the lease conditions is central to an ethics investigation brought by the Idaho Senate into allegations Pearce failed to disclose a potential conflict of interest as the oil and gas legislation moved through the Legislature this year. Deputy Attorney General Brian Kane told the Ethics Committee Monday that it must first determine if Pearce had a private pecuniary benefit in the legislation that passed. Then the panel has to decide if Pearce is exempted from a conflict because he is part of a large class of people who would benefit from the legislation.

The Ethics Committee will meet again Wednesday, examining leases to determine if Pearce’s is the same as others.

But Senate Democratic leaders who brought the allegations said limiting conflicts of interest to pecuniary interests is incorrect.

“The term 'conflicts of interest' includes both personal and pecuniary interests,” wrote Sens. Edgar Malepeai, Les Bock and Michelle Stennett — the Senate minority leader, assistant minority leader and caucus chairwoman, respectively.

Still, the Democrats listed three places Pearce would get pecuniary gain. The first was by eliminating the Payette County conditional use process for natural gas facilities in House Bill 464, which Pearce supported in committee. The second was by approving rules for hydraulic fracturing, that will be make his leases more valuable by raising natural gas production. They also suggested that a clause that limited production costs was not included in all of the leases.

Foster told the Statesman Pearce may not make any more money.

“In the industry, a lease does not guarantee exploration or drilling,” Foster said. “A lease is only an option to explore. Often, leases expire without any drilling happening at all.”

Republican Sen. Jim Hammond said during the ethics committee meeting Tuesday that the investigation should be closed.

“ I’m troubled that we're still here in this case (when the gain) he could achieve from this bill is purely speculation and is the same as hundreds of lessees or possible lessees in that class,” Hammond said.

Democratic Sen. Dan Schmidt said Senate rules require disclosure not only on the floor but also in committee, a point that was supported by Deputy Attorney General Brian Kane. Schmidt said it was Perce himself who said he had a conflict when he disclosed it on the Senate floor.

“I would like to take the senator at his word; he said he had a conflict,” Schmidt said. “I want to hear him.”

Here is Foster's entire statement:
"You asked me (to) tell you what I can, on the record, about Monty Pearce's lease. I checked with Snake River. Senator Pearce received exactly the same financial terms and lease conditions as did the dozens of his neighbors who also signed leases.

Also, it is important to note that in general in the industry, a lease does not guarantee exploration or drilling, and is not a guarantee of larger financial gain from drilling. A lease is only an option to explore. Often, leases expire without any drilling happening at all."

1332269909 On Sen. Pearce's ethics investigation: Snake River Oil and Gas says senator's lease same as neighbors Idaho Statesman Copyright 2014 Idaho Statesman . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Are any of Pearce's

1980s leases still in effect? If so, how do they read compared to the one signed in Nov. 2011?

Probably not.

They usually run from 3 to 5 yrs. Then up to the discretion of the lessor as to whether or not they want to enter into another.

Its very clear that Idaho

Its very clear that Idaho Republicans have no ethics at all. They love to operate their own lives above the law on that fake moral high ground of self-righteousness and anti-government.I.E. John Birch Society member

History of the Idaho democracy clearly indicates government fraud by politicians and appointees is one of the most common and costly, forms of theft by public officials.

Idahoans must have confidence in their elected representatives and political system restored, we the hardworking Idahoans who pay the tax majority of the state demand the Idaho legislature pass a transparency disclosure law with a citizens ethics committee to rule on violators.

Pearce willfully failed to recuse himself from the entire gas & oil effort, in which he has personal interests that will benefit from passage of the bill.

Bottomline this was wrong behavior and it may not be illegal yet in Idaho but it should be.

It's very clear

that it's the same on both sides of the aisle, since the "good senator" who is spearheading this effort is the same one who was convicted of DUI during last year's session. Ethics indeed, Mr. Malepeai. Hypocritical much?

Might I ask

How did Malepeai benefit from his DUI? It amazes me how far you shills will go to support an unethical politician simply because of party affiliation.

Yeah no kidding and he

Yeah no kidding and he didn't have a grand theft
auto charge to go with and these same bone heads
were A-ok with that.

What?

You mean how Malepeai like our Governor got a DUI paid his fine and did community serivce? Otherwise there is no comparison. Pearce can pretend he didn't do anything wrong but you don't go out and get the most expensive and best defense attorney in Idaho unless you are a bit worried.

Ridiculous!

What does it matter if others might likewise benefit? As long as Pearce may benefit, it is a conflict of interest. Does the Idaho Legislature believe they can rewrite the definition of "conflict of interest"? Apparently so. This is a sad display of arrogant, legislated corruption.

It matters substantially

as that is how the conflict of interest definition is already written. Nobody is rewriting any definitions. Maybe you should educate yourself before making broad and incorrect statements.

Depends

What your definition of "is" is, right?

Maria,,,I just had an ethics issue with Maria...

and Bernstein can't touch me now. ppppp

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I'd like to thank Kevin Richert for persuading all the legislators to quit.

Definition of Conflict of Interest

Idaho's definition of “conflict of interest” If it is in the best interest of the general public and is NOT beneficial to the legislator’s own special interest and groups ie. oil/ gas rights, ranching, wolves, religious control, what have you, then there is a conflict and they have no interest. What is hard to understand about that? ;-)

How much $$$

What is the financial windfall from these leases?

I read the lease, yesterday..

After seeing it and the compensation, not much. All it does is reserve those rights on that land for them if they think it's feasible to do something. Pretty minor money until they decide to drill...then, who knows. It's all speculation right now.

Seems to me...

Seems to me anyone in favor of fracking bears close watching.

Hmmm, I think the company

would be better represent itself if they dropped "River" from their company name.

update... stand by

"...that will be make his leases more valuable by raising natural gas production. "

What?
raising natural gas production. Raising?

***

"They also suggested that a clause that limited production costs was not included in all of the leases."

Huh? How does this affect his potential gain or conflict? Did they also mention EVERY other possible clause in the world that was not included in the lease?

Public info

I'm not sure Pearce's lease information via SRO&G is public information. Obviously through the committee hearing and submitted information but not through an inquiry of the Statesman.

**
Hey Statesman, can you tell me what the employment contract of the Rock says?

Life with no parole

That should be a good long time. BTW you've got a few grammatical errors in your above posts!

solitary

True.
It's also true I don't get paid to do this for the main, daily newspaper in Idaho.

Mr. Grammatica gets a kick from you.

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I'd like to thank Kevin Richert for persuading all the legislators to quit.

Grammar much?

A dummy check while you're at it.

The Rock writes, "Foster told the Statesman Pearce may not make any more money."

That's quite a statement, Mr. Foster.

How would you like to be the person who "may not make any more money"? The printing press is turned off!

- Of course, I know that's not what Foster said.

***

Only the Rock can take a person's statement and totally 'drill' it up! Plus, he gets paid for it.
I hope some day the Statesman fires The Rock and he will "not make any more money".
ha ha

this grammar rehab crap will bankrupt us!

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I'd like to thank Kevin Richert for persuading all the legislators to quit.

You may be the most bitter ex-wife ever.

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I'd like to thank Kevin Richert for persuading all the legislators to quit.

Oh, that's just funny.

Truth is hard to come by

Good one FO

Every once in awhile you knock one out of the park.
But your average is really low. :-)

I don't know what

the Republicans definition of "is" is but for "Conflict of Interest" it would seem to be clear that if you have a dog in the fight you need to disclose.

The lease was obtained from

The lease was obtained from Payette County. It was recorded.

Same as

Same as his neighbors? The difference however, is he is a legislator and they are not. He has the ability to make it very lucrative by giving the gas and oil companies free reign over the counties. Looks to me like another fine adventure conducted by the yahoos in office.