State Committee Backs Financial Disclosure For Idaho Politicians

Nov 27, 2017

For the first time, political candidates across Idaho would have to disclose parts of their finances to run for office under a new proposal from state lawmakers.

A group of legislators unanimously backed the proposal, which would require anyone seeking office to disclose their employer, the employer of his or her spouse and any businesses he or she owns. The measure would not force anyone to reveal salary information.

Candidates would also have to disclose assets worth more than $5,000, unless they’re managed through a mutual fund or another third party. 

Idaho and Michigan are currently the only two states that don't require some kind of financial disclosure for elected officials, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Another proposal would update campaign finance reporting and lobbying disclosure requirements. State officials would also upload these reports online in a searchable database. 

But on a 6-4 vote, the committee carved out a reporting exemption for those lobbying local governments over objections from House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding (D-Boise).

“It doesn’t make any sense to me that we would have campaign finance reporting for local [elected officials] – including school boards – but we wouldn’t have any requirements for lobbyists who are lobbying contracts on a regular basis to school districts, who are lobbying contracts on a regular basis to cities and counties,” Erpelding says.

Others, like Secretary of State Lawerence Denney (R), questioned whether a $10 per client registration fee for lobbyists was too low.

“I don’t think $10 is probably high enough,” Denney says.

In order to maintain an accessible legislature, some committee members say a higher fee could drive away interest groups.

Rep. Fred Wood (R-Burley), who co-chairs the committee, says the questions around lobbying are legitimate, but they could imperil the rest of the bill at the statehouse.

“When we’re talking about lobbying at the local level, raising lobbying fees or anything else to do with lobbyists I think that that ought to be for another year,” Wood says.

These recommendations still need approval from the entire legislature.

If they were signed into law, they would go into effect in July of 2019. 

Find news director James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson

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