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LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) — Authorities asked Idaho officials to investigate after county employees and their families bought items at a county surplus auction.

Nez Perce County Prosecutor Justin Coleman issued a memo Tuesday saying county elected officials, department heads and employees aren’t allowed to participate in such auctions without permission from the Board of County Commissioners.

The request for an investigation stems from a June 23 auction that county commission Chairman Douglas Havens, county employees and family members participated in, the Lewiston Tribune reported .

Havens purchased an operating table, tool box and filing cabinet for $5 each, according to auction documents obtained by the newspaper through a public records request.

“There are provisions that allow commissioners to vote to make an exception to allow employees to make purchases,” Coleman said. “But I still think it would be problematic if they did that and then engage themselves, because they decide which items to surplus.”

Havens said he wasn’t aware of the potential problems with how the auction was handled at the time but did hear complaints afterward.

“If they want the property back, they can surely have it,” he said. “I just bid on stuff that nobody else bid on, just because I didn’t want the road department to have to deal with it.”

Havens said the operating table was 50 years old, and he bought it for a friend. He added that county employees shouldn’t have allowed him and county employees to participate.

Coleman asked the Idaho attorney general’s office to investigate whether there were any violations.

He has also scheduled a meeting with Paul Panther, the attorney general’s criminal law division chief, to discuss the auction.



Information from: Lewiston Tribune,