Idaho Democrats Take Closer Look At Campaign Law After Complaint Dismissed

Nov 23, 2016

The Idaho Democrats filed a complaint in October alleging an official with the Idaho Republican Party violated the state’s campaign laws. Since then, the Secretary of State’s office looked at the issue – and says no wrongdoing occurred.

Secretary of State Chief Deputy Tim Hurst says after looking closely at the complaint, there’s no evidence the Idaho Republicans broke the law while creating a political attack ad against House Minority Leader John Rusche. He says a GOP official worked with party volunteers and staff on the ad – and not directly with Republican candidate Mike Kingsley. But Hurst says the state’s campaign finance laws are not as clear as they could be when it comes to coordination between politicians and parties.  

“But right now it’s a little bit fuzzy, especially the role between the parties and the actual candidates," says Hurst. "It’s hard to define exactly what coordination is or different factors that we look at.”

He says Secretary of State Lawerence Denney is drafting a bill to present to the legislature to clear up any ambiguities.

To Sally Boynton Brown of the Idaho Democratic Party, this interpretation of the law is a little puzzling.

“We’re in consult with our lawyers who specialize in federal election activity and federal election law," says Boynton Brown. "And it’s certainly not what we’ve been advised – both at a national level as well as at a state level. And so it’s definitely giving us some pause.”

Boynton Brown says even though they may disagree with the decision, the party is glad to have the Secretary of State’s interpretation of the law.

After the complaint was filed, Kingsley beat Rusche, taking away one of the Democrats few remaining seats in the legislature.

Find Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

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