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Political fireworks at campaign forum

If today’s Boise City Club forum with 1st District Congressman Bill Sali and his Democratic challenger, Walt Minnick, is any indication, the airwaves should be cooking this Sunday night when the two debate on live statewide TV. The two clashed during the luncheon forum over everything from earmarks to energy, but the sharpest clash came when Minnick portrayed Sali as running afoul of the rules, from disclosure in a campaign ad to having his congressional office outside his 1st Congressional District. Here’s the exchange:

Minnick said, “Congressman Sali has been unable to set up his office in the right district, he has used his office as a base for campaign staff,” at which point Sali interjected, “Whoa!” Minnick continued, “He’s been late in his financial reports and he’s just had to take down his latest attack ad on me because it violates the FEC requirements for what you have to have in the way of disclosure in a television ad.” Minnick said as a CEO, he takes “personal responsibility” for the operations at his company. “We can expect a congressman to take personal responsibility for complying with the law that regulates the operation of a campaign and his office,” he said.

Sali responded, “Well, we didn’t take down our TV ad, it’s still going to go up. We did change one little citation on there because we had a miscommunication between our office and our media guy and he put the wrong thing in there.” “It was illegal,” Minnick interjected, but Sali continued without pausing, “This charge that you’re making about me using my official business office to do campaign work is absolutely false and I’m going to demand right here and right now that you take it back!” That statement was met with laughter from the audience. “Second thing, the place where I have my office is the same exact room where Butch Otter had his office, it’s right across the street from where Helen Chenoweth had her office, and I think Larry LaRocco before that, I haven’t checked back before that time period. It’s not in the 1st Congressional District, because it’s in the same building as (2nd District Rep.) Mike Simpson’s office, it’s close to the senator’s office, and it’s right there by the capitol building.” Sali would have continued, but the moderator moved on to the next question.


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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