Campaign Finance

Ada County Statehouse Capitol Building Secretary of State Denney
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

A group of Idaho lawmakers is looking into the state’s campaign finance laws, or Sunshine Laws. Both Republicans and Democrats are on the Campaign Finance Working Group, which held its first meeting Wednesday.

Secretary of State Lawerence Denney advocates for more transparency when it comes to companies that support Idaho candidates. But the Republican election official also says there should be no limit placed on contributions, citing the Supreme Court’s rulings on the First Amendment.

The re-election of Barack Obama in November of 2012 dealt a stunning defeat to the Republican Party. As the GOP reeled from the loss and began laying plans to win in 2016, a small group of shadowy and wealthy figures gathered at the request of Charles and David Koch, otherwise known as the Koch brothers. Their secret agenda: To map out plans to systematically and inequitably influence our political system.

Kyle Green / Idaho Statesman

Supporters of sweeping changes to Idaho's campaign finance laws have failed to collect enough signatures to get their initiative on the November ballot.

Holli Woodings, a Boise Democrat who chaired the Keep Idaho Elections Accountable campaign, said Friday that her group needed at least 48,000 valid signatures, but they fell short by about 6,000. Signatures are only valid if they're from people with up-to-date voter registration.

“The poison pill ended up being people who believed they are registered to vote," says Woodings, "but they’ve moved.”

Campaign finance reports show that Idaho Supreme Court candidate Robyn Brody has raised more than $177,000, but her campaign will be giving a small portion of that back because some contributions violated the state's campaign laws.

Brody received $27,000 from four farm-related companies all tied to one owner. Idaho's Sunshine Law prohibits donors from giving more than $10,000 to statewide candidates during primary or general elections, including banning aggregated contributions.

Deputy Secretary of State Tim Hurst says Brody is expected to file an amended report Wednesday.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

An initiative to update Idaho’s laws around campaign finance has until Monday at 5 p.m. to reach the signature threshold. Former Democratic state lawmaker Holli Woodings is leading the initiative, called Keep Idaho Elections Accountable.

Woodings says that if the initiative passes muster, voters in November will have the chance to decide how Idaho deals with money in politics.