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Posts tagged: Starr Kelso

Hart Paid Kelso From Campaign Funds

Idaho state Rep. Phil Hart paid $1,000 in campaign funds in 2011 to Coeur d’Alene attorney Starr Kelso, who’s representing him in his ongoing fight against back state income taxes; Hart lost his tax appeal to the Idaho Supreme Court last week. But Hart said the payment was for helping him defend against a series of House ethics complaints. The fourth-term lawmaker faced ethics complaints over his tax fight and an illegal state timber harvest; Kelso represented Hart at two House Ethics Committee hearings in Boise in 2010 and submitted documents on his behalf. Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa said, “There’s nothing prohibiting that.” Campaign funds can be used for anything “related to being a holder of public office,” he said/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Also: Primary race heating up in Hart's House District 2


OpenCDA: Kelso/Brannon File Appeal

Don't look now, but Coeur d'Alene attorney Starr Kelso has filed a brief appealing the 1st District Court decision against his client Jim Brannon in the never-ending 2009 Coeur d'Alene municipal election case. This, according to, the Kelso-Brannon PR wing. Bill McCrory reported on the appeal three days ago (which goes to show how often I check in on, as amusing as it can be at times). McCrory called the brief as “a road map to guide the Idaho Supreme Court justices through the 2,676 pages of documents in the trial court record, 111 exhibits consisting of 563 pages, 876 pages of trial transcript, and transcripts of numerous other hearings held before and after the trial.” You can read more about this latest waste of court time and resources here.


DOTC: Hart Hid Behind Kelso

Dan of the Community: What strikes me is that as an elected official for more than 20 years I cannot even remotely imagine the circumstance where I or just about any other local elected official I have ever served with would not be willing to be present in person at this kind of a hearing, let alone not even being willing to speak for yourself over a telephone but having to have an attorney speak for you. What kind of accountability and transparency to the public is that? I find it especially ironic in that the attorney is the same one that had me on the stand for almost 8 hours over two days in the Cd’A election contest. I answered for myself and in person. I answered every single question firsthand to the best of my ability and didn’t stop until he finally ran out of questions.

Question: Did you find it strange that Rep. Phil Hart didn’t attend the House Ethics Committee hearing to defend himself Monday, relying on attorney Starr Kelso instead?

Twin Falls TN: Shame On Brannon, Kelso

Brannon and his grandstanding lawyer, Starr Kelso, ought to be ashamed of themselves. Single-handedly, they’ve made the idea of running for City Council toxic. And if legislators don’t think the same thing could happen to them, they’re deluding themselves. The Legislature needs to fix this by exempting candidates from lawsuits against cities, counties or the state over election results. Every city council member we know of spends far more hours on the job than he or she is compensated for. The notion that they should also be compelled to pay for their right to hold office is repulsive/Twin Falls Times-News. More here.


Brannon Appeals To Supreme Court

As expected 2009 Coeur d’Alene City Council election loser Jim Brannon and his attorney, Starr Kelso, have filed an appeal of Judge Charles Hosack’s decision to the Idaho Supreme Court. The two apparently didn’t wait for Judge Charles Hosack to rule on their request for a new trial. Hosack will hear that request Dec. 7. Team Brannon reportedly appealed on 23 different grounds. You can read the appeal here.

Kennedy Legal Tab To Date: $107K

Councilman Mike Kennedy tells Hucks Online that the legal bills submitted by his attorneys Scott Reed and Peter Erbland in Jim Brannon’s never-ending lawsuit total $107,000 to date. That’s not a misprint. Kennedy said he’s appealed for financial help to the court, to the city, and he’s fund-raised ($6500 to date to pay for costs unrelated to direct attorney time.). Kennedy guesstimated that the city’s outside litigation counsel bill will be about $35,000. So the cost in defense attorneys’ fees is $142,000 to date. This does not count one hour of city staff time, internal legal work or research for the city.  It also counts not one hour of any such time for the county staff, including their internal legal research, etc. Sez Kennedy: “Someone can do the estimated math on that and the total number is staggering - well over $250,000 I would think.” Kennedy isn’t sure what costs he’ll face in a possible re-trial or Supreme Court challenge by Brannon.

Brannon Asks Court For New Trial

Item: Brannon to try again: Election challenge parties expected in court Dec. 7/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d’Alene Press

More Info: Jim Brannon, unsuccessful challenger for Coeur d’Alene City Council seat 2 at the polls and in the courtroom, has filed a request for a new trial citing “erroneous” determinations by the court. The petition, filed Monday, comes nearly two months after the election challenge suit ended in September in favor of incumbent Mike Kennedy. … “The evidence at trial is insufficient to justify the verdict,” Brannon’s attorney, Starr Kelso, wrote in the filing.

Question: Anyone out there who still has sympathy for Jim Brannon’s cause?

Brannon Move Doesn’t Make Sense

I’m not surprised or disappointed by the action by Team Brannon to seek a new trial, as a precursor to a likely Idaho Supreme Court appeal of Judge Charles Hosack’s rejection of Jim Brannon’s election challenge. However, I do wonder what is Team Brannon’s goal at this point. With the Legislature even more in GOP hands and with sympathetic Kathy Sims soon to  representing the city of Coeur d’Alene in the Legislature, Team Brannon could easily have worked with Sims to introduce legislation to tweak Idaho election law. Or Brannon simply could have thrown his hat into the ring again. After all, we’re 2 or 3 months from the beginning of the 2011 municipal election cycle. Why pursue an appeal that you’ll probably lose — and will cost you more money — if you have less expensive remedies elsewhere? Does Brannon view himself as some sort of martyr? Is this an effort to keep the 2009 City Council election in play, to tarnish the incumbents, as seemed to have been the purpose in the county clerk’s election this fall? Does Starr Kelso have some itch he needs to scratch by taking another case to the Idaho Supreme Court? Inquiring minds want to know — DFO.

Brannon & Kelso File For New Trial

In a move that’s likely a precursor to appealing the adverse ruling in Jim Brannon’s election challenge, attorney Starr Kelso has filed a motion for a new trial with Judge Charles Hosack. If I read the tea leaves correctly, the motion is a precursor for an appeal of Hosack’s decision naming incumbent Mike Kennedy as winner of the 2009 City Council seat against Brannon by 3 votes. You can read the long list of postings in this case with the Idaho State Judiciary here.

Question: Are you surprised that Brannon & Kelso are going ahead with this challenge?

Hart Files To DQ Judge In Tax Appeal

Phil Hart has filed a motion to disqualify the judge in his state income tax appeal case in 1st District Court in Kootenai County, Judge Lansing L. Haynes. Hart’s motion, filed late last week by his Coeur d’Alene attorney Starr Kelso, cites an Idaho court rule that permits a judge to be disqualified without cause; Kelso declined to comment on the motion, which could delay Hart’s case, now scheduled for a court hearing on Dec. 7 on the state’s motion to dismiss the appeal/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: OK, what’s going on here? Anyone?

Local R’s Donated $2500 To Kelso

Interesting reading from Kootenai County Republican Central Committee financial disclosure statement for June 5 - Sept. 30. Local R’s raised $25,583 and spent $19882. Among those expense:

Kelso: Rosa Parks, Mandela … Hart?

Rosa Parks was arrested in 1955 because she refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger. She was convicted of disorderly conduct and a violation of a local ordinance. A criminal. Nelson Mandela campaigned against apartheid. He was tried, convicted, and given a life sentence for his beliefs in democracy, freedom and equality. A criminal. Phil Hart researched federal tax law. He wrote a book on taxes. His book’s facts and opinions have never been refuted/Starr Kelso, Coeur d’Alene Press op-ed article. More here.

Question: Do you consider Rep. Phil Hart to be kindred spirits with Nelson Mandela and Rosa Parks, as Hart’s lawyer Starr Kelso does?

Hart, Kelso Can’t Appeal Ethics Decision

Remember when Rep. Phil Hart’s attorney, Starr Kelso, issued a statement last week charging that the House Ethics Committee’s action against Hart, through its unanimous vote to recommend his removal from the House Revenue & Taxation Committee while he presses his own personal fight against back state income taxes, had “no basis in law or procedure and exceeds the Committee’s authority”? Turns out those claims aren’t going anywhere. Here’s why: “There is no judicial review of this,” said Brian Kane, the deputy attorney general assigned to the Ethics Committee, who attended all its meetings and advised members throughout the process/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Will Rep. Phil Hart and attorney Starr Kelso appeal any way?

Kelso rejects actions of ethics panel

Rep. Phil Hart, right, talks with his attorney, Starr Kelso, left.

On Wednesday, members of a ethics panel voted unanimously to recommend removal of Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, from the House Revenue and Taxation Committee.   Shortly after the decision was rendered, Starr Kelso, attorney for Hart, that the committee had no authority to recommend Hart’s removal.

Hart was cleared of two ethics complaints against him – one at an earlier committee meeting and one Wednesday – but members of the ethics panel felt that Hart’s ongoing legal case against the Idaho State Tax Commission could prove to be a conflict-of-interest for a member a House committee tasked with writing tax code.   The commission and the Internal Revenue Service say Hart owes more than $700,000 in back taxes, fees, and interest, but he is fighting that amount. The commission recently ruled against Hart in the matter, but the Athol Republican has filed a motion to reconsider.  If that motion is not approved, it is possible Hart could take his battle to district court. Full story. Dustin Hurst, Idaho Reporter

HBO Poll: Mike Told Starr To Shove It

  • Weekend Poll: 126 of 204 (52.5%) respondents believe that City Attorney Mike Gridley told Team Brannon attorney Starr Kelso to take his papers and shove them (where the sun doesn’t shine) at one point during the Brannon Election Trial. 58 of 204 (28.4%) respondents believe he didn’t. 20 of 204 (9.8%) respondents were undecided.
  • Today’s Poll: Will Demo Walt Minnick be hurt in conservative Idaho by being denounced as a bigot by liberal blog Daily Kos?

Judge Verdict On Brannon 1-2 Weeks

Item: Brannon suit goes to the judge: Hosack says it could take him 1-2 weeks to decide fate of Kennedy’s city council seat/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d’Alene Press

More Info: im Brannon wants a new election for Seat 2 on the Coeur d’Alene City Council. If one isn’t ordered, the incumbent, Mike Kennedy, has enough votes to secure the narrow victory no matter which way evidence on three more illegal voters is ruled. Kennedy won the Nov. 3 election by five votes. But 1st District Judge Charles Hosack must decide whether some irregularities during Coeur d’Alene’s Nov. 3 general election warrant a one-on-one runoff for the city council seat.

Question: Do you see any value to the long, judicial exercise involved in Jim Brannon’s challenge to his 5-vote loss to incumbent Mike Kennedy?

Brannon: Closing Arguments Saturday

  • 4:16 p.m. Judge schedules closing arguments for 9:30 p.m. Saturday.
  • 4:13 p.m. Last voter that Brannon wanted to call is unavailable. Judge declares evidence phase of trial over.
  • 3:58 p.m. Hosack is struggling w/Dobslaf status. She’s legal federally. But he isn’t sure she’s legal as far as a state voter goes. Ultimately, he rules that Dobslaf is a legal voter and that her vote will not be stricken.
  • 3:53 p.m. Dobslaf, from Canada, tells court that she may have voted for Kennedy, but she’s not sure.
  • 3:18 p.m. Voter Denise Dobslaf is testifying via Skype.
  • 2:51 p.m. Kelso is making a motion to amend his complaint (which is denied), and Peter Erbland follows with a motion to dismiss the case (which is also denied).
  • 2:29 p.m. Defense counsel Peter Erbland is now making a rebuttal.
  • 2:28 p.m. Kelso is saying there’s no proof re: number of ballots that went through election machine. He is citing many different numbers that have been bandied about.
  • 2:23 p.m. Kelso is reviewing testimony by former elections chief Deedie Beard and Deputy Secretary of State Tim Hurst to try to prove fraud and malconduct.
  • 1:03 p.m. (We interrupt trial coverage to bring you this report): Jim Brannon was following Hucks Online on his cell phone about 90 minutes ago & Larry Spencer was following this blog on his laptop about 15 minutes ago.
  • 12:46 p.m. Hosack just said to Kelso: “I’ve heard so much of this questioning that I can’t take it any more.”
  • 12:31 p.m. Kelso had ‘just a few quick questions’ for Beard.’ That was a half hour ago.
  • 12:10 p.m. Ex-elections department chief Deedie Beard is called back to the stand to answer a few questions re: outside voters.
  • 12:07 p.m. Attorneys are stipulating to evidence to shorten things up and to avoid calling a bunch of witnesses.
  • AM coverage here

Brannon Day 5: City Held Hostage

  • 12:02 p.m. Court back in session.
  • 11:10 a.m. Judge Hosack calls a recess.
  • 10:48 a.m. Zellars tells the court that she had the wrong ballot. But she can’t remember how she voted in Brannon-Kennedy race. She says she always votes Democratic — to which Erbland asks whether she saw any party on the ballot. She responds, no.
  • 10:40 a.m. Rehana Zellars is now on video feed live.
  • 10:27 a.m. Matt Kelso is setting up teleconference with voter Rehana Zellars — and having technical difficulties.
  • Much more below

What Did Gridley Really Say?

It’s hard for me to believe that City Attorney Mike Gridley told Team Brannon attorney Starr Kelso to shove his papers where the sun doesn’t shine, as Kelso contends. Gridley, after all, was on the witness stand at the time. And Kelso seems to be the only one who heard the comment — and mebbe someone else from Team Brannon as Mary claims in her screed but per usual doesn’t identify. Tom Hasslinger, of the Coeur d’Alene Press, asked Gridley about the exchange during a break. He writes in an online story: “Gridley, outside the courtroom, said that wasn’t exactly the exchange the two attorneys had. He said he told Kelso in unspecified terms to stop the behavior during the questioning, adding that Kelso had tossed one of the paper exhibits at him instead of just handing it. ‘You don’t treat a witness that way,’ Gridley said”/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d’Alene Press. More here.

Question: Do you think Gridley really told Kelso to shove his papers where the sun doesn’t shine? Would you think less of the city attorney if he did?

Brannon’s Search For Votes Nears End

Item: Search for votes nears end: Brannon election challenge trial could finish today as voters testify/Tom Hasslinger, Coeur d’Alene Press

More Info: Four witnesses living in Canada and one living in California were called as witnesses but weren’t in the courtroom. A pair of witnesses, living in Kootenai County and Coeur d’Alene, were called to testify but were not in the courtroom. They will be called again today.

Question: Do you think this trial will end today?

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About this blog

D.F. Oliveria is a columnist and blogger for The Spokesman-Review. Print Huckleberries is a past winner of the Herb Caen Memorial Column contest by the National Association of Newspaper Columnists. The Readership Institute of Northwestern University cited this blog as a good example of online community journalism.

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