The full Senate has given unanimous approval to a measure aimed at making sure voters know if someone filing for office has a criminal background. Senate Bill 287, by Sen. Susan Paddack, would require additional information on the declaration of candidacy forms. She said currently, application forms for positions appointed by the Governor require far more information than forms required for those seeking public office.
“A citizen seeking gubernatorial appointment for a board or commission has to fill out an in-depth four page questionnaire asking if they’ve ever been investigated or had complaints filed with local, state or federal law enforcement, if they’ve ever been arrested and how it was resolved,” said Paddack, D-Ada. “But if you are running for office, the form doesn’t ask much more than a candidate’s name, address, age and what office they’re seeking. I think the public has a right know if that candidate has been in trouble with the law.”
Under SB 287, the declaration of candidacy form would require office-seekers to disclose if they’d ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor offense or if they were currently named in an outstanding warrant for arrest in any state. They would also be required to disclose additional information about any convictions or warrants.
“Those who seek and serve in elected office are held to a higher standard, as they should be,” Paddack said. “They have a position of power in our communities and our state, and they have the responsibility of making and enforcing the rules and laws all of us must follow. Because of this position of power and trust, I believe it is in the public’s interest to know from the start whether a candidate is a law-abiding citizen or whether they have a criminal record.”
SB 287 now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.