Here’s your infuriating gun-related story of the day: Idaho State Representative Mark Patterson recently had his concealed weapons permit revoked after it was revealed that in 1974, he’d pled guilty to assault with intent to rape, then twice lied about the incident on his concealed permit application. In a sane world, this would be grounds for Patterson’s removal from office, but we do not live in a sane world. Not only is Patterson going to remain in office; he’ll be permitted carry his concealed weapon after all, despite lying about the rape charge, because Idaho has a law that exempts lawmakers from abiding by the same concealed permit rules as everybody else.
Patterson, who was acquitted of a second rape charge three years after the first, nobly responded to the charge by attacking Dan Popkey, the Idaho Statesman reporter who broke the story, and Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney, who was responsible for revoking the concealed weapons permit, saying he was the victim of a smear campaign.
“This whole thing is to silence me,” Patterson said of the incident, conspicuously not addressing the fact that he’d lied about a rape conviction in order to be able to secretly carry weapons. “[It’s] a bare-knuckled campaign to intimidate me from serving the people of Idaho.”
So, about that rape charge. It happened in Tampa, Florida when Patterson was 21-years-old. At the time, a 46-year-old woman accused the future Republican lawmaker of forcing her twice to have sex with him, threatening to set his Doberman Pinscher on her if she refused to comply. Patterson initially served some time in prison — he says he can’t remember how long — then pled guilty to assault with intent to rape, which got him five years’ probation. He only served two before being released.
Patterson’s account of the situation has changed over time. After his initial arrest, Patterson claimed that the sex was consensual, as evidenced by the fact that “she was even on top for a while” and “did not resist.” But on Monday, Patterson denied he and the woman ever had any sexual contact to begin with, saying he only pled guilty because he was getting beaten up in jail and wanted to get out ASAP, so he could be with his family (how sweet). He added, somewhat contradictorily, that some chemotherapy he underwent ten years ago made it hard for him to remember exactly what happened.
"Listen, you gotta understand," Patterson said. "I did chemotherapy, a double dose every week for six months back in '03. A lot of my memory is gone."
And so, while Patterson’s chemotherapy makes it impossible for him to recount the details of what happened in 1974, the treatment miraculously spared his memory of simply being innocent. Assuming, correctly, that this might be an unconvincing story, Patterson also claimed Monday to have audio of his accuser admitting to blackmailing him. He’s refusing to present that audio, though, which seems like an odd decision if the audio does, indeed, exist.
The law allowing Patterson to keep his guns was enacted in 1990, and some Idaho lawmakers are now considering revisiting it.
"I think the message it sends is that elected officials get perks,” said state Rep. Luke Malek, also a Republican. “And when it comes to the 2nd Amendment, I think that's particularly disturbing, because essentially, it's saying we should have more ability to protect ourselves than the average citizen." Another Republican, Rep. Frank Henderson, also opposes the law, saying that “ those of us in public office should be under the same laws as the general public.”
Patterson once supported legislation that would criminalize local police for enforcing federal gun laws. It didn't pass, which is about the only good news anywhere in this story.
Image: Idaho Statesman