The Idaho Debates will feature a series of nine debates in Idaho races in advance of the May 20 primary election, the Idaho Press Club, the League of Women Voters of Idaho and Idaho Public Television announced today. The Idaho Debates have featured face-offs between Idaho election candidates for more than 30 years; this year’s primary debates, broadcast statewide, continue that tradition.
Here are the debate dates and times:
GOP GOVERNOR’s RACE: May 14, 8 p.m. Gov. Butch Otter is seeking a third term; in the Republican primary, he faces opponents including Senate Majority Caucus Chairman Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian; Harley Brown and Walt Bayes.
SECRETARY OF STATE, GOP: May 13, 7 p.m. Four candidates are facing off in the Republican primary for Secretary of State; the victor will face Democratic Rep. Holli Woodings in November.
2nd CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT, GOP: May 11, 7 p.m. This GOP primary race features longtime Congressman Mike Simpson and challenger Bryan Smith.
IDAHO SUPREME COURT: May 9, 8 p.m. Justice Joel Horton faces a challenge from Boise attorney Breck Seiniger; the primary election is the final contest in this non-partisan race.
LT. GOVERNOR, GOP: May 9, 8:30 p.m. Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little will debate challenger Jim Chmelik.
SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION, GOP: May 8, 8 p.m. Candidates vying in the four-way GOP race for state superintendent of schools will face off; the winner of that primary will face Democrat Jana Jones in the November general election.
STATE CONTROLLER, GOP: May 2, 8 p.m. State Controller Brandon Woolf debates GOP challenger Todd Hatfield.
STATE TREASURER, DEMOCRATS: May 2, 8:30 p.m. Two Democratic candidates for state treasurer, Deborah Silver of Twin Falls and W. Lane Startin of Boise, will face off; the victor in that primary race will face incumbent GOP Treasurer Ron Crane in November.
ATTORNEY GENERAL, GOP: May 1, 8 p.m. Third-term Attorney General Lawrence Wasden faces Boise attorney C.T. “Chris” Troupis in the GOP primary contest.
That’s nine debates on seven days, all in the month of May, all broadcast statewide on Idaho Public Television. As always, the Idaho Press Club will provide the Idaho reporters who will serve as panelists questioning the candidates; the League of Women Voters will handle time-keeping duties; and Idaho Public TV will provide the moderators and produce and broadcast the debates.
Two former Boise State University students are suing the school because they say athletic officials ignored their reports of sexual assault and harassment by a star athlete, the AP reports; the women are represented by nationally known attorney Gloria Allred, who has handled similar lawsuits in several other states. They contend that multiple Boise State University athletic officials knew the athlete who abused them had a record of serially harassing and assaulting fellow students, and that the school's failure to take action spurred the athlete to continue the behavior.
The lawsuit says a “men's star track and field athlete” openly sexually harassed female athletes at practices and coaches didn't intervene. BSU relieved its head track and field coach, J.W. Hardy, from his coaching duties in April 2013. Click below for a full report from AP reporter Rebecca Boone.
Monica Hopkins, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho since 2008, will leave in May for a similar position with the organization in Washington, D.C., the group announced today. Hopkins' last day will be May 16; in her new job, she’ll be executive director of the ACLU in the Nation’s Capital. The Idaho ACLU said it plans “a very deliberate and thoughtful process” to select Hopkins’ replacement; you can read their full announcement here.
Canyon County GOP politics are in an uproar after the GOP candidate, unopposed in the primary, for longtime Rep. Darrell Bolz’ seat turned out to have a criminal record for domestic violence; Idaho Statesman reporters Dan Popkey and Cynthia Sewell report today that the candidate, Greg Chaney, also has two bankruptcies on his record. He told the Statesman he’s now found God and he and his third wife are living frugally; Chaney’s record was first disclosed last week by the Idaho Press-Tribune.
But here’s the political fallout: Bolz told the Statesman he’s having second thoughts about supporting Chaney – whom he escorted around the Capitol at the close of the session. “It’s very disconcerting, OK?” Bolz told Popkey. A new write-in GOP candidate has emerged for the seat, Brian Bishop, a Harvard-educated attorney in Caldwell and BYU graduate who says he’s very serious about his run. And Chaney now says he might withdraw, after meeting with Bishop tonight at a Canyon County Republican Central Committee meeting. Canyon County GOP Chairwoman Melinda Smyser told the Statesman that all candidates, including Chaney and Bishop, will have a chance to speak at the 7 p.m. meeting at the Canyon County Courthouse, which will be open to the public.
Legislative District 10 is the same one where then-Sen. John McGee resigned in disgrace in 2012 after a sexual harassment scandal involving a female Senate aide, a year after he’d kept his Senate GOP leadership post despite a DUI conviction. The other current District 10 representative, Brandon Hixon, 32, was elected two years ago despite revelations that he’d had five misdemeanors by age 21. Said Bolz, “People are just beginning to wonder what the devil’s going on in District 10.” Popkey and Sewell’s full report is online here.
Randy Jensen, a middle school principal from American Falls and one of the four Republicans vying for the GOP nomination for state schools superintendent, has a rather unusual campaign message for folks on this day-before-tax-day: Don’t donate to my campaign, donate to your local schools instead. “Hopefully people will look at this and say, ‘This is the kind of superintendent we’d like, one that wants to put money toward kids and not spend money on campaign stuff,” Jensen said.
He’s not turning away all campaign donations. “If somebody sends me a check, I’m not going to rip it up,” he said. But he’s decided he doesn’t need a lot of campaign funding, and will be reaching out to voters personally and electronically, while encouraging potential donors to take into account Idaho’s generous tax credit for donations to schools.
“In Idaho, if you donate $500, you immediately get a $250 tax credit,” Jensen said. “So that means the most you can pay is $250. But then if you itemize, you save about $160, depending on your tax bracket. So it costs you just about $90.” Jensen said schools can end up with more than five times as much money if people donate to them instead of candidates. “If I wanted to send a mailer out to the 100,000 people that voted in the last three Republican primaries, that mailer would cost $30,000,” he said. “I would rather have $150,000 go to schools.”
Jensen said he’s meeting this afternoon with four major corporations in his area, and he’s hoping to talk each of them into, instead of donating $1,000 to his campaign, donating $5,000 to schools. “I could generate $4,000 for my election – hopefully instead I can generate $20,000 for a program at a school,” he said. Jensen said even if he doesn’t win his race, his purpose is to help schools. “What most people don’t realize is they can donate $500 to a school and their out-of-pocket expense is typically going to be less than $100.”
He faces John Eynon, Andy Grover, and Sherri Ybarra in the May GOP primary; the victor will face Democrat Jana Jones in November.
None are particularly well-known; all are educators; and all are seeking a key statewide office that’s become a lightning rod for controversy under the current superintendent. Twin Falls Times-News reporter Kimberlee Kruesi runs down the four GOP candidates vying for a chance to run for state superintendent of schools, with two-term Superintendent Tom Luna retiring. The winner will face Democrat Jana Jones in November, who is unopposed in the primary. Kruesi’s report is online here, talking with Andy Grover, Randy Jensen, John Eynon and Sherri Ybarra.
As the 2nd District congressional race heats up, with money pouring in from outside groups and name-calling ads from both sides on TV in southern Idaho, Idaho Statesman reporter Sven Berg took a look Sunday at GOP challenger Bryan Smith and his career as an attorney in Idaho Falls. Smith, whom incumbent Congressman Mike Simpson is criticizing in TV ads as a “personal injury lawyer,” actually has made his career as something of a debt collector, Berg reports, founding or co-owning two firms that buy unpaid medical debt from doctors and other creditors, and working closely with Smith’s law firm, sue the debtors who don’t pay, forcing wage garnishments and bankruptcies.
An Idaho Falls bankruptcy attorney estimated that one of the firms has triggered a third to half of Bonneville County’s bankruptcies in recent years. Berg’s full report is online here.
On tonight’s “Idaho Reports” program on Idaho Public Television, I join Jim Weatherby and co-hosts Melissa Davlin and Aaron Kunz for a discussion of current events, from election politics to agency rule-making. Also, Davlin and Seth Ogilvie discuss rifts in the Idaho Republican Party and report on a District 34 race, in which freshman GOP Rep. Douglas Hancey is being challenged in the primary by Ron Nate; it’s the first in a series focusing on some of the legislative races around the state. The show airs at 8 p.m. tonight; it re-airs Sunday at 10:30 a.m. Mountain time, 9:30 Pacific; and plays on Boise State Public Radio on Sunday at 7 p.m. After it airs, you can watch it here online any time.
Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden says this year’s primary election in Idaho has brought “a bigger fight,” saying, “I think it’s a fight for the heart and soul of the Republican Party.” “There are people like me who read the Constitution and believe we should do what the Constitution says; there are other folks who kind of think that they should follow a certain set of philosophical viewpoints,” Wasden told The Spokesman-Review’s editorial board on Friday.
“The rational Republicans want to sit down and read the Constitution and do what it says,” Wasden declared. Wasden is Idaho’s longest-serving state attorney general; he’s seeking a fourth term, and faces a challenge in the primary from Boise attorney C.T. “Chris” Troupis, the lawyer who represented the Idaho Republican Party in its successful lawsuit against the state to close the GOP primary to anyone other than registered Republicans; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
Lawerence Denney, candidate for Idaho Secretary of State, has scheduled a press conference for Tuesday to announce endorsements from 1st District GOP Congressman Raul Labrador and state Treasurer Ron Crane. Labrador is one of Denney’s three campaign co-chairs, he announced when he filed to run for the office on March 12. Denney also has posted endorsements on his website from 11 other state lawmakers, including House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star.
Denney is one of four candidates vying for the GOP nomination for Secretary of State; the others are chief deputy Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane, former Sen. Mitch Toryanski, R-Boise, and former Sen. Evan Frasure, R-Pocatello.
Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has declined to fill out a form certifying that he agrees with each and every tenet of the Idaho Republican Party platform, including repealing the 17th amendment – direct election of U.S. senators – and returning to the gold standard. Instead, Otter submitted a letter to the party saying, “I have chosen not to fill out the specific policy sections of the disclosure statement. A brief statement cannot fully encompass my positions on these issues.”
He included some statements of his overall philosophy, and wrote, “I believe that repealing the 17th Amendment is unnecessary if the 10th Amendment is fully and properly applied, but discussion and debate on that alternative is healthy for our republic. I oppose adopting the gold standard for our currency because of the critical leadership position the United States must take in the global market, but I support auditing the Federal Reserve in the interest of transparency and accountability.”
He added, “There are other policy statements in the platform with which I generally agree, but I do not believe those statements adequately serve the purpose of completely informing voters on key issues.” You can read Otter’s full letter here. Among the other gubernatorial candidates in the GOP primary, Russ Fulcher and Walt Bayes both filled out the party’s form and checked that they agree with every item in the platform, without comment; candidate Harley Brown hasn’t submitted a form.
Former state Sen. Mitch Toryanski, R-Boise, has announced the addition of three current state senators to his campaign team as he vies in a four-way GOP primary for Idaho Secretary of State: Sens. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, Jim Rice, R-Caldwell; and Dan Johnson, R-Lewiston. Toryanski counts 11 and two former ones among his campaign committee; you can see his full list here.
Former state Controller Donna Jones has endorsed Phil McGrane in the four-way GOP race for Idaho secretary of state. McGrane, chief deputy Ada County clerk, faces former House Speaker Lawerence Denney, former Sen. Evan Frasure of Pocatello, and former Sen. Mitch Toryanski of Boise in the May 20 primary; the winner will face Democratic Rep. Holli Woodings of Boise in November, who’s unopposed on the Democratic ticket.
Jones was elected state controller in both 2006 and 2010, the first woman to serve in that position; she resigned in 2012 to recover from severe injuries suffered in a car accident, and was replaced by her then-chief deputy, current Controller Brandon Woolf. She’s also a longtime GOP activist and former executive director of the Idaho Real Estate Commission who served 12 years in the Idaho House, including serving with Denney. She called McGrane “the only qualified candidate in this race that can get the job done.” You can read McGrane’s full announcement here.
In the past year, the Idaho State Police has seized more than 720 pounds of marijuana during traffic stops, more than 58 pounds of meth, and more than 30 pounds of cocaine. That’s for the calendar year 2013, and it’s only counting major seizures – those that were above reporting thresholds, which are 1 pound for marijuana, 2 ounces for meth or cocaine, and 1 ounce for heroin.
California was the most common state of origin for the seized drugs, accounting for 23 of the 80 seizures in 2013. Oregon was second at 17, Idaho third at 11, and Washington fourth at 10.
“This is just our numbers from our highway interdiction and our highway enforcement,” said Teresa Baker, ISP spokeswoman. “This isn’t the drugs that we seized from our investigations.”
In 2012, ISP reported 78 seizures on the highways, including 645 pounds of marijuana, 5.57 pounds of heroin, and 2 pounds of methamphetamine. “There are a lot of drugs coming into the state from other states,” Baker said. “There’s a lot of interstate drug trafficking.”
A Spokane man says he was pulled over by the Idaho State Police on I-84 just inside the Idaho state line last summer, and accused of having marijuana solely because he had Washington license plates and had his car windows open. “At that point, my jaw just dropped,” said Paul Dungan, 58. “I said ‘No.’ I told him, ‘This is the way I cruise in the summer time … so I don’t fall asleep.’ … He said, ‘I want to search your car,’ and I said, ‘No, you have no right to search my car.’”
Dungan said after nearly an hour of “haranguing me … he finally backed off.” Dungan wasn’t cited for anything; he hadn’t been accused of any traffic offenses. “I was definitely profiled,” he said. “I’m a 58-year-old white guy, and I haven’t ever been profiled, even when I was a young teenager in southern California raising hell-type stuff. What a horrible feeling.”
The Idaho State Police could find no record of Dungan’s stop. “I’m not saying that he’s lying at all – we just can’t find it,” said Teresa Baker, ISP spokeswoman. She said the agency conducts numerous traffic stops that in the past year have yielded big drug seizures – 720 pounds of marijuana, 59 pounds of methamphetamine and 30 pounds of cocaine, just in 2013. “There are a lot of drugs coming into the state from other states, whether it’s Oregon, Washington, Nevada, up through Utah, Montana,” she said. “We are constantly patrolling the highways looking for criminal activity. … If someone breaks a traffic law, no matter how minor someone might think the traffic law is, they can be stopped.”
Dungan’s story follows the release this week of ISP’s video of a traffic stop in January of 2013 in which a Colorado man charges he was targeted because of his Colorado license plates, detained at the same rest area, and his vehicle taken to a nearby jail and searched before he was let go after nothing illegal was found. Both Washington and Colorado have legalized marijuana; Idaho hasn’t. In addition, Idaho is nearly surrounded by states that permit the use of medical marijuana, which Idaho strictly forbids. Darien Roseen of Pagosa Springs, Colo. has filed a federal lawsuit against the Idaho State Police over his stop, saying his constitutional rights were violated and he was profiled on the basis of his license plate.
“I’m sure we’re not the only two guys that are in the states now that have legalized marijuana that those guys are harassing down there,” Dungan said. “I find it really annoying. I’ll never drive through that area again. If I’m going down to the Boise area, I’m going down through McCall and Banks and take the scenic route and through.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
Here’s a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Republican contender in the race for a western Idaho legislative district has had run-ins with the law. The Idaho Press-Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/1iy2Li3 ) Greg Chaney was charged with domestic battery in the presence of a child in 2009. Prosecutors said in court documents that Chaney pushed his then-wife, snatched her cell phone when she tried to call police and threatened to kill himself with a steak knife. The charge was later amended to disturbing the peace; Chaney was convicted of that charge and of misdemeanor malicious destruction of property. The representative hopeful acknowledged the incident, but said he has changed his ways. Chaney is running unopposed in the primary for the seat being vacated by Caldwell Republican Rep. Darrell Bolz. He will face Democrat Leif Skyving in the general election.
A.J. Balukoff, Democratic candidate for governor, is refusing to fill out a National Rifle Association candidate questionnaire, saying it’s “biased and loaded with leading questions that do not allow me to accurately state my position on gun laws.” In a letter back to the NRA, he wrote, “The leading questions and multiple-choice answers in your questionnaire allow for only polarizing and extreme positions.” He noted in particular a question about Idaho’s guns on campus bill, SB 1254, that passed this year. “I believe this bill was not necessary and creates more problems than it solves,” Balukoff wrote. “University presidents, faculty and students should have the ability to determine the culture of their college campus. That culture should not be dictated from the Statehouse.”
You can read both Balukoff’s letter and the NRA questionnaire online here. Balukoff faces Terry Kerr of Idaho Falls in the Democratic primary in May; GOP Gov. Butch Otter, who backed SB 1254 and signed it into law, faces Senate Majority Caucus Chairman Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, who also supported the bill, along with two other GOP primary challengers, Harley Brown and Walt Bayes.
Here’s a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho Rivers United and the Nez Perce Tribe are in mediation with the U.S. Forest Service to end a lawsuit concerning megaloads on U.S. Highway 12 in northern Idaho. Kevin Lewis of Idaho Rivers United said Wednesday the groups are seeking to have the federal agency come up with specific rules concerning gigantic loads traveling on the northern Idaho route that includes a federally designated Wild and Scenic River corridor as well as tribal land. The groups sued the Forest Service last year, and U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill in September granted a preliminary injunction halting shipments. His ruling required the Forest Service to conduct a corridor review, and the agency on Monday released a document attempting to assess impacts the giant loads have passing through the rugged area.
Click below for a full report from AP reporter Keith Ridler.
Video of an Idaho State Police traffic stop obtained by The Spokesman-Review under the Idaho Public Records Law shows an ISP trooper pulling behind a pickup truck with Colorado plates as soon as he sees it, following it into the “Welcome to Idaho” rest stop, then badgering the 69-year-old driver to allow a search for drugs. The hard-rock radio station that the trooper was listening to provides a soundtrack, interspersed with commercials; when the trooper first sees Darien Roseen’s truck, the radio is blaring the Scorpions’ “No One Like You.”
“Why’d you pull in here so rapidly?” trooper Justin Klitch asks Roseen in the January 25, 2013 dash-cam video. “Uh, I had to go to the bathroom,” Roseen responds. “You didn’t have to go to the bathroom before you saw me,” the officer says, to which Roseen responds, “That’s true - No, I did have to.” “I’m telling you, you pulled in here to avoid me, that’s exactly what you did,” the trooper says. “I mean, you almost hit the curb, you almost ran off the road. You definitely didn’t want me around you for some reason. … Why are your eyes glassy today?”
The traffic stop led to hours of detainment and a fruitless search of the truck that yielded nothing illegal; Roseen has filed a federal lawsuit over it, alleging he was profiled and illegally searched because of his license plate – which was from Colorado. He also has a Washington state driver’s license. Both Washington and Colorado have legalized marijuana; Idaho hasn’t.
The ISP said in a statement last week that it is conducting an internal investigation into the allegations in the lawsuit. “We would like to assure the citizens of Idaho and the visitors to our state that the Idaho State Police holds all of its employees to a high standard which includes following the Constitution of the United States and the laws and constitution of the State of Idaho,” the agency said. You can watch the video and see our full story here.
Andy Grover, one of four Republican candidates vying for the nomination for state superintendent of schools, has announced the endorsements of 18 other Idaho school district superintendents for his run; Grover is the superintendent of the Melba School District. “I am the only candidate that’s been a superintendent, and has that experience to continue to move education forward,” said Grover, 42, who’s helmed the Melba district for the past four years after previously serving as a high school principal, teacher and coach; he’s also a former Marine. You can see Grover’s list here, which includes superintendents from Preston and Bonneville to Genesee and McCall-Donnelly.
The other candidates in the GOP primary race also are educators; they include Randy Jensen, a longtime middle school principal from American Falls; John Eynon, a teacher and Idaho core standards opponent from Cottonwood; and Sherri Ybarra, a school administrator and former teacher and principal from Mountain Home. The winner of the GOP primary will face Democrat Jana Jones, former chief deputy state superintendent and a longtime educator, in November; she’s unopposed in the Democratic primary. Jones narrowly lost to two-term GOP incumbent Tom Luna in 2006.