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Idaho lawmaker installs private camera inside Capitol

January 23, 2018

File - In this Jan. 9, 2017 file photo, House Assistant Majority Leader Brent J. Crane, R-Nampa, waits for the State of the State address inside the house chambers at the state Capitol building in Boise, Idaho. Crane has recently set up a private security camera to record meetings, but hasn't told anyone they're being recorded. (AP Photo/Otto Kitsinger)

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — An Idaho House leader said Monday he’s set up a security camera in his legislative office to record meetings with fellow lawmakers, lobbyists and constituents in response to the wave of sexual misconduct allegations erupting across the country.

House Assistant Majority Leader Brent Crane, a Republican from Nampa, says he felt the need to take extra steps to protect his reputation after seeing multiple lawmakers face accusations of sexual misconduct in Idaho and Washington D.C.

“People are concerned,” Crane, who owns a security alarm system company in Nampa, said in a phone interview. “It’s a different environment and we should be able to take measures that protect our integrity.”

Idaho Public Television was the first to report on the existence of the hidden security camera on Monday. According the report, Crane declined to be recorded when interviewed by IPTV.

Crane told The Associated Press he initially informed his House Republican colleagues of the camera, but no one else.

House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding, D-Boise, says he found about the camera during a meeting at Crane’s office earlier this month. Erpelding said he had been chatting with Crane for several minutes before noticing the small, black camera on the bookshelf. When Erpelding confronted Crane about it, Crane told him he was being filmed.

“I was blown away by it,” Erpelding said. “In response to the #MeToo movement, they’re implying that someone is out to get them.”

In Idaho, people can record others without their permission. Crane says he does not always tell people of the camera — which records only video and not audio — and has no plans to change that during the legislative session.

“A picture is worth a 1,000 words,” Crane said.

Footage from the security camera can only be archived if Crane chooses to do so. If not, the data is recorded over with new footage.

Crane says he’s never had a reason to archive any of the footage and dismissed questions over concerns that he could delete any incriminating recordings because no one else has access to the footage.

This isn’t the first time an Idaho lawmaker has been caught secretly filming. In 2016, Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill said Rep. Ron Nate, R-Idaho Falls, secretly recorded them talking before the May primary election. Prior to that, Bonneville County GOP official Doyle Beck surreptitiously recorded former Idaho GOP Chairman Steve Yates in an effort to bolster his claims that a secret society had been formed to oust certain members from party positions.

Meanwhile, Idaho lawmakers underwent anti-sexual harassment training at the beginning of the legislative session. It was the first time in recent history that the Legislature took steps to address harassment in the workplace.

Prior to that, 14 female Idaho lawmakers reached out to GOP legislative leaders over the summer asking for anti-harassment training to be a regular event for legislators at the Idaho Statehouse.

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