Arrow-right Camera


Republican Party redirects Labrador staffers

Aide in CdA office working on state races

BOISE – U.S. House hopeful Raul Labrador hasn’t exactly gotten the help that the Idaho Republican Party promised in June when it announced the hiring of two full-time staffers to help his campaign.

Idaho GOP Executive Director Jonathan Parker said Wednesday that one of the staffers is spending most of his time working on state races instead of Labrador’s race against Democratic U.S. Rep. Walt Minnick.

That’s a shift from earlier plans. The state GOP announced in June they had requested money from the Republican National Committee to hire two people, based at offices in Coeur d’Alene and Boise, with the chief task of unseating Minnick.

The new staffers – Kootenai County Reagan Republicans President Jeff Ward and former state Senate Republican aide Phil Hardy – were announced the week after Labrador upset Vaughn Ward in the May 25 primary.

The RNC-funded hires were cited by Idaho Republicans and Labrador as evidence of key support from the national party for his campaign to help offset Minnick’s significant fundraising.

Minnick reported more than $1 million in cash on hand earlier this summer and held a 16 to 1 cash advantage over Labrador.

Jeff Ward, the staffer hired to direct the office in Coeur d’Alene, has spent most of his time working on state legislative races and the re-election campaigns of Republican state officers, Parker said.

“We’re just considering him a traditional Idaho GOP employee,” he said.

The Labrador campaign declined to comment Wednesday.

Ward is being paid with mostly unregulated donations, or soft money, according campaign finance reports the Idaho Republican Party filed with the Federal Election Commission last week.

Campaign employees who spend more than 25 percent of their time in a given month working on a federal race, such as Labrador’s campaign, have to be paid with political donations that are regulated by law.

Ward, however, is working less than 10 hours a week for the Labrador campaign and does not fall into this category, Parker said.