Convicted felons can seek office

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SANDPOINT — A felony conviction is not necessarily an impediment to seeking elected office in Idaho.

Those convicted of a felony offense can have their political rights restored if they satisfy all the court-ordered obligations in their case, said Bonner County Clerk Marie Scott.

The question of a convicted felon’s eligibility to run for political office was raised when white supremacist Shaun Patrick Winkler announced he was challenging incumbent Sheriff Daryl Wheeler for the Republican party nomination in the May 15 primary.

Ponderay Police officer Tim Fry is also in the hunt for the GOP nod for sheriff. The victor in the primary will face former deputy Rocky Jordan, who’s running as a constitutionalist in the Nov. 6 general election.

Winkler, 33, was charged in Kootenai County with witness intimidation in 2004. Along with the felony offense, Winkler was also charged with misdemeanors for battery on a law officer, obstructing an officer and assault.

The charges stemmed from an altercation with a former Aryan Nations colleague, an Associated Press report said.

The misdemeanor charges were dismissed and Winkler pleaded guilty to the intimidation count, according to the Idaho Supreme Court Data Repository. He was ordered to serve up to two years in prison. The court retained jurisdiction in the case, which qualified Winkler for release after six months.

Scott said she verified Winkler’s eligibility to run for sheriff through the Bonner County Prosecutor’s Office.

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