HELENA (AP) — Individual privacy trumps the public's right to know the details of an investigative report into a 2009 boat crash involving U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg and former state Sen. Greg Barkus, the Flathead County attorney said Tuesday.
But Ed Corrigan said he would not object to the release of an edited version of the document that removes all personal information on Barkus, Rehberg and the other injured passengers. The edited version also should exclude any description of chemical or alcohol use by Barkus, or any information about his financial or marital status, he said.
Corrigan's comments are included in a court filing to District Judge John McKeon. The judge had asked the parties involved in Barkus' prosecution whether he should comply with a request to release report.
Barkus attorney Todd Glazier requested the judge grant an extra 30 days to respond. He said in the request that he believes the request by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington request is politically motivated.
McKeon did not make an immediate ruling.
Barkus crashed his boat on Flathead Lake's rocky shores after a night of drinking Aug. 27, 2009, injuring his four passengers. On board were Rehberg, Barkus, the former senator's wife and two Rehberg staffers, one of whom was in a coma for 10 days.
Rehberg, who is in a close race to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, suffered cracked ribs and a fractured eye socket. Also, a left leg bone was sheared just above his foot, and Rehberg has said the only thing holding his foot on was his cowboy boot.
Prosecutors said Barkus had a blood-alcohol content of .16, more than twice the legal limit to drive. Barkus pleaded no contest to felony criminal endangerment and was given a four-year deferred prison sentence, $29,000 in fines and supervised probation.
CREW requested the investigation report filed before Barkus' January 2011 sentencing, saying the report was critical in McKeon's decision in sentencing Barkus but has not been made available to the public.
The group said in its request the report contains information on the judgment and truthfulness of Barkus and Rehberg. There should be no right-to-privacy expectations when dealing with a report prepared by a public official concerning another public official involved in a public judicial proceeding, the group said.
The Associated Press has filed a separate request for the presentence investigation report.