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Eye On Boise

Two candidates return contributions after running afoul of limits, including one for Idaho Supreme Court

Two candidates for state offices in the May 17 election are filing amended reports and returning contributions, after inadvertently running afoul of the Sunshine Law’s restrictions on donations from related entities, according to the Idaho Secretary of State’s office – including a candidate for the Idaho Supreme Court.

Rep. Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home, who reported two $1,000 contributions from related firms, one of which is a subsidiary of the other, “is filing a report and returning the money,” said Chief Deputy Idaho Secretary of State Tim Hurst. “He wasn’t aware of the two entities owned by the same person.”

Another campaign also has run up against the same issue, but on a larger scale. Robyn Brody, candidate for the Idaho Supreme Court, reported contributions totaling $27,000 from four farm-related companies, all related to Robert Shillington; two of the firms, Notch Butte Farms and Last Ranch LLC, gave $5,000 each for the primary and general elections; CSC Farms gave $5,000 for the primary, which is the limit for donations per cycle to statewide candidates; and Shillington Bros. gave $2,000 for the primary.

One oddity for judicial elections: Court candidates aren’t supposed to know anything about who donates to their campaigns, even though it’s public record; that’s all handled by a campaign committee, as required by the Idaho Code of Judicial Conduct. “They are filing another report and returning some money,” Hurst said. “It’s just one person that contributed almost $27,000; there’s four different farms, four different outfits. Of course, Robyn Brody doesn’t know anything about it, but her campaign wasn’t aware of the tie in between, that’s what they told me. They said they’re taking care of it, they’re correcting it.”

Overall, Brody’s campaign reported $176,491 in contributions, and reported spending $42,157, with $134,334 on hand at the end of the filing period May 1. There were roughly 100 contributions, large and small, with many coming from attorneys in southern Idaho.

Here’s what the other three candidates for Idaho Supreme Court justice filed in their campaign finance reports:

The campaign for Sergio Gutierrez, Idaho Court of Appeals judge, reported raising $12,795 and spending $6,481, with $6,314 on hand and $3,377 in debt. The contributions came from individuals in both northern and southern Idaho.

The campaign for Curt McKenzie reported raising $16,399 and spending $3,144, with $13,255 on hand at the close of the reporting period and $3,144 in debt. The contributions came largely from legislators and lobbyists; the Idaho Association of Realtors donated $5,000, and Idaho Power Corp. donated $1,000.

The campaign for Clive Strong reported raising $49,324 and spending $35,992, with $13,331 on hand and $8,000 in debt. The contributions came largely from individuals, businesses and lawyers throughout the state; the biggest was $5,000 from J.R. Simplot Co.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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