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News >  Idaho

Idaho candidate to amend report after paying family member

Tommy Ahlquist speaks during a forum meeting for Idaho candidates for governor hosted by Idaho GOP on Friday, July 21, 2017, at the Best Western in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Tommy Ahlquist speaks during a forum meeting for Idaho candidates for governor hosted by Idaho GOP on Friday, July 21, 2017, at the Best Western in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
By Kimberlee Kruesi Associated Press

BOISE – Boise businessman Tommy Ahlquist’s campaign for governor said Friday the Republican candidate will submit an amended campaign financial disclosure report after it showed he paid a family member with campaign funds.

Idaho law allows candidates to pay relatives and spouses with campaign cash, but Ahlquist has previously promised to ban candidate family members from accessing such funds if elected governor as part of his ethics and term limits plan.

Ahlquist reported paying his son-in-law Matthew Rabe $20,000 for wages in his latest campaign disclosure funds released Wednesday.

“Tommy paid Matthew for his work out of his personal bank account,” said David Johnston, Ahlquist’s campaign manager, in a statement. “Out of an abundance of caution and transparency, the campaign reported Tommy’s personal payment to Matthew which should have been reported as an in-kind contribution.”

Johnston added that the campaign plans on immediately filing an amended report to the secretary of state’s office that shows the change.

No other family member is being paid by Ahlquist, according to the disclosure report. Rabe is the only campaign staffer being paid directly by Ahlquist, Johnston said.

“Politicians in Boise should not be able to accept money from special interests and then turn around and use that money to enrich their family members,” Ahlquist’s campaign website reads. “This practice should be banned.”

Ahlquist is running against U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador and Lt. Gov. Brad Little in the open Republican gubernatorial primary election. The seat has become one of the most competitive races in the 2018 election because Gov. Butch Otter is not seeking a fourth term.

Ahlquist’s stance on banning family members from accessing campaign funds is in direct contrast to Labrador, who has previously paid his wife, Becca, and now his son with campaign donations.

Labrador’s latest sunshine report shows the Republican candidate paying his son, Michael, nearly $20,000 in wages. Labrador also paid his wife a $2,022 monthly salary from his congressional campaign from 2011 through 2016.

Labrador has defended hiring spouses and relatives with campaign contributions because they are often the people he trusts the most.

Little’s report doesn’t list any family members on his campaign payroll, but he did pay his office chief of staff, Greg Wilson, $1,385 – marked “wages” on the report.

As with paying relatives with campaign cash, Idaho’s election laws allows candidate to hire government employees to work on campaigns. This has raised concerns about when campaigning begins and when public service stops but the practice is permitted.

The two Democratic gubernatorial candidates, Boise businessman A.J. Balukoff and Rep. Paulette Jordan of Plummer, did not report any family members on their campaign disclosure reports.

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