Interest charge

‘Accusations are often made and spread quickly:’ Mountain Home mayor denies misconduct accusation

Mayor Rich Sykes was charged in January with one count of using a public position for personal gain.

MOUNTAIN HOME, Idaho — The mayor of Mountain Home said in a statement Thursday that he remains committed to serving his constituents, even as a criminal charge of abusing his political position for personal gain progresses.

Mayor Rich Sykes was charged in January with one count of using a public position for personal gain. According to a criminal complaint, Sykes used city employees and equipment to move a pile of dirt near his property in April 2021, instead of paying for his removal.

Sykes denied the accusation, telling KTVB he had done nothing wrong and suggesting the accusation was made by members of the “good old boys’ club” who oppose him politically.

The mayor doubled down on that sentiment on Thursday, calling the allegation “misplaced and incorrect.”

“In politics, accusations are often made and spread quickly. Sometimes the truth is lost,” he said. “I am fortunate to have a fair opportunity to address the latest allegation against me in open court and to bring the truth to light. As the legal process unfolds, I will continue to serve the interests of this city and its people.”

The pending criminal case will not affect his performance as mayor of Mountain Home, Sykes added.

“Mountain Home is my home and I am honored to serve it. Every action I take as mayor is aimed at protecting our people, improving our environment or making better use of our resources,” he said. “I wouldn’t knowingly do anything to harm this town, and neither would I.”

Sykes, who was elected mayor in 2015, was the subject of a failed recall effort in 2020.

The Attorney General’s Office was called in to pursue the case to avoid conflicts of interest with the Elmore County Attorney’s Office. An arraignment is scheduled for February 23.

If convicted, Sykes could lose his seat as mayor and face up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine.

In his statement, the mayor thanked Mountain Home town employees for their hard work and urged residents not to target them for his misdemeanor charge.

“I would also like to remind everyone else that the allegation recently raised is against me and does not allege misconduct against any other city officials or employees,” he said. “Please treat them with respect.”

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