Sheriff Bob Norris (Photo courtesy of Kootenai County Sheriff's Office)

Sheriff Norris Refutes Allegations

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COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho – Approximately 150 people came to an event on Thursday, March 14, 2024, at the Atlar church in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, to find out whether or not several allegations made by Dan Wilson’s campaign against Sheriff Bob Norris and County Commissioner Bruce Mattare held any validity. One allegation was serious enough in nature that both Norris and Mattare believed it was eroding the community’s trust and confidence in the sheriff’s office and harming county officials’ ability to work harmoniously together for the citizens of Kootenai County.

Commissioner Bruce Mattare (Photo courtesy of Kootenai County).

In his opening remarks, Norris explained why he believed it was important to set the record straight. “When there are accusations, especially of criminal wrong-doing, against elected officials, and in this case one of them happens to be your sheriff, it potentially erodes the trust and confidence that you all have in me,” stated Norris. “I will not allow that to happen … our organization spends a lot of time earning your trust.”

The event was widely publicized across multiple social media platforms and was billed as an opportunity for Wilson to show proof of his allegations. Both Norris and Mattare were present, as was former Kootenai County Deputy Prosecutor Bryant Bushling, who was there to be a neutral reviewer of any documents, recording, or other material produced by either side as evidence to substantiate or refute allegations. By Bushling’s own admission, he does not socialize with Norris and has only spoken with him briefly as any other member of the community is apt to do with their sheriff. Bushling knew Mattare due to their time spent on the Optional Forms of Government Study Commission and stated, “We are not friends, I would say we are friendly … but we’ve never done anything socially together.” 

In refernce to Wilson’s multiple statements that imply there is something improper in Norris and Mattare working together on county business, Mattare wants the public to consider why Wilson and others want to “turn a virtue into a vice.” He asked the audience if they want to see their county officials fighting each other, or working together, and says it is good for the citizens when elected officials establish relationships and work closely on the public’s behalf. Bushling noted that the idea of “separation of powers” is not meant to keep county officials from collaborating with each other on behalf of the public they serve. He reminded the audience that separation of powers is designed to keep the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government from encroaching on each other’s delegated authority.

Norris said that a direct invitation to the event had been extended to Wilson, however, he did not respond, and the Kootenai Journal found a video that Wilson posted shortly before the event stating he would not be attending. Bushling administered an oath to Norris and Mattare, who both swore to tell the truth, that all items presented are factual and without alteration, and that all items were obtained legally and without duress. Norris then proceeded to counter several accusations leveled by Wilson.

Dan Wilson (Courtesy of Dawna Wilson).

First, Wilson has alleged that Norris gave Mattare special police powers and that Mattare used those powers to target his political opponents. These allegations imply Mattare used law enforcement databases to access records concerning Wilson that are held by another law enforcement agency. Norris highlighted Idaho §18-2202 and 18 US Code §641 to demonstrate the seriousness of the allegation by Wilson. Norris explained the process that sheriffs use when designating someone as “special deputy” and said no special deputies have any access to law enforcement applications or software programs, nor do they hold policing authority. Norris produced a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to confirm there is no record of Mattare holding credentials with access to the sheriff’s office databases. Norris said it is common for individuals to work with the sheriff as a special deputy, and he has given the status to fire firefighters and lawyers, as well as others. In Mattare’s case, he provides political counsel and guidance to the sheriff as a special deputy. “I don’t do politics well,” admitted Norris. He also produced a FOIA request showing that the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) does not have access to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office or the Spokane Police Department to demonstrate that it is not possible to obtain those entities’ records without going through the standard FOIA request process that is available to all of us.

Image of the FOIA requests presented by Sheriff Norris on Thursday, March 14, 2024, to refute Dan Wilson’s allegations.

Norris produced documents which were sent to him via email from a member of Wilson’s family. The documents were police reports from 2012 that depict an interaction Wilson had with law enforcement near his residence in Washington and were obtained via a FOIA request by Wilson’s family member. The audience was told these were the documents that Wilson alleged Mattare obtained illegally via his position as a special deputy. In the reports taken by law enforcement in 2012, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputy states that Wilson was evasive “like the criminals we investigate.” The issue at hand was whether Wilson was armed, and the deputy’s report said Wilson admitted to being armed after being asked three times. 

Norris presented an image of the email showing who requested and received the FOIA request of police reports concerning an interaction with Dan Wilson near his residence in Washington in 2012.
Norris presented images of police reports concerning an interaction with Dan Wilson near his residence in Washington in 2012.
Norris presented images of police reports concerning an interaction with Dan Wilson near his residence in Washington in 2012.

Next, Norris refuted allegations posted on Wilson’s campaign website dated February 20, 2024, which states, “Sheriff Bob Norris is on 100% LACERA disability and has never disclosed to Kootenai County Residents what his disability is. This raises concerns as throughout his term as Sheriff of Kootenai County he frequently has breakdowns and emotional outbursts.” It continues with, “Bob Norris is on 100% disability from LACERA of over $180k per year, 50% not taxed.” Norris showed that Wilson has repeated these allegations in different formats on multiple platforms, including Facebook and Instagram.

Image taken on March 15, 2024, of Dan Wilson’s campaign website showing his allegation that Norris is 100 percent disabled.

Norris stated he is not on 100 percent disability. He asked Bushling to review some of his personal medical records and insurance settlement documents. Bushling read aloud to the audience, “the right shoulder is rated at 12 percent impairment” and “the left at 13 percent.” Norris explained these records simply document the injuries so that any future claims or surgeries will enable the insurance companies to divide who pays what.

When asked if Wilson’s claims about Norris’ disability status were proved or disproved, Bushling replied, “First of all, considering the documents that you gave me, you are clearly not 100 percent disabled.” Bushling continued with, “Again, we have a situation in which an allegation was made … I think it’s important if you are going to make allegations, that you be able to prove them.” Bushling said he couldn’t find a basis for Wilson’s allegation and is curious as to where he is getting his information.

In another allegation, Wilson asserted that Norris spent fifteen years working for Homeland Security. While Norris did participate on a counter terrorism task-force for three years after 9/11, he stated his assignment was part of his job during his 30-year career with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office. According to a short biography on the KCSO website, “Bob was selected to lead an anti-terror Team at the Joint Regional Intelligence Center after 9/11. His assignment was to manage personnel and resources from local, state, and federal agencies. His responsibilities also included the planning, logistics, and response to man-made and natural disasters.”

Norris took questions from the audience where he was asked to address three additional allegations made by surrogates of Wilson which “have not been squashed by him.” Those being Norris was “a Viking” during his time at the LA Sheriff’s office, that he has accepted money from “nefarious people” in LA, and that he is part of “secret societies.” Norris refuted all allegations. He explained that he never worked at the Lynwood Sheriff’s station, which is the only way a deputy would have been part of the Viking group and gotten the Viking tattoo. After his wife confirmed he does not have any tattoos, Norris quipped, “I have a clean canvas,” which garnered laughter from the audience. He says a friend from LA who now lives here and has financially supported his campaign has a son with criminal activity from 10 years ago. “So what?” asked Norris. Finally, Norris stated he is not a member of “any secret society” and disclosed he and his wife are members of the Eagles, Mica Flats Grange, and the Coeur d’Alene Rotary. “I am not a Freemason. I am not a Shriner,” stated Norris. He explained that his office has held a series of “Coffee With Your Sheriff” events, and one of the locations was a masonic lodge. Norris reiterated that he is the sheriff to all citizens, with the caveat that he will not participate in something where there is a “known criminal enterprise,” otherwise he is pleased to engage in open dialogue and will meet with citizens at many venues.

Editor’s note: Dan Wilson had been a candidate for the Republican nomination for sheriff in the May primary, however, he switched his party affiliation on March 13, 2024, and is now listed as an independent candidate. Independent candidates will not appear on any primary ballot.