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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Idaho congressman Russ Fulcher quietly divorced prior to election

Republican Russ Fulcher thanks supporters for his victory in the Idaho primary at an election night party on May 15, 2018, in Boise, Idaho. Fulcher went on to win a seat in Congress in the November 2018 election. (Darin Oswald / Idaho Statesman via AP)
By Betsy Z. Russell

BOISE – New Idaho congressman Russ Fulcher and his wife, Kara, divorced in September after she cited his “acts of adultery.”

At the time, Fulcher was running for Idaho’s 1st District congressional seat, after winning a hard-fought, seven-way GOP primary in May with 43.1 percent of the vote. But the divorce, filed in Ada County, escaped public attention during the campaign.

“These are painful things for everybody. It’s personal; it’s painful,” Fulcher said Monday. He said both he and his former wife agreed not to talk about it “for both of our sakes, because it’s personal.”

John Schroeder, Fulcher’s Boise attorney, said Russ and Kara Fulcher had issued a joint statement, saying, “The couple acted jointly and resolved the matter in a way that was private, amicable and respectful.”

Schroeder said he had no further comment, other than, “Russ and Kara are wonderful people, marvelous people. Marvelous family.”

The Fulchers were married for nearly 32 years and have three grown children. According to the Aug. 8 filing in 4th District Court by Kara Fulcher, they were married March 21, 1987.

Shortly after his May primary win, Fulcher was hospitalized for serious injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident. In a public statement issued May 21, he said, “I am thankful for the Lord’s hand of protection this weekend. Special thanks to my wonderful wife Kara for being so uplifting and supportive, and for the fabulous staff at St. Alphonsus for patching me back up. Remember, ALWAYS wear a helmet!”

Jasper LiCalzi, a political scientist at The College of Idaho, said of the divorce: “No matter how private you want to keep it, I’m surprised it didn’t come out, because it is a public record.”

The divorce case file was not sealed.

“The people who were involved with it made sure it didn’t get out, I guess,” LiCalzi said.

Fulcher, 56, holds a master’s degree in business administration from Boise State University and had a 24-year high-tech career with Micron Technology and Preco Electronics before going to work in commercial real estate. He served 10 years in the state Senate and ran unsuccessfully for governor in the 2014 Republican primary as a tea party favorite.

Fulcher filed to run for governor again this year, but after then-1st District Rep. Raul Labrador also filed in that race, Fulcher eventually agreed to bow out and run for the 1st District congressional seat, with Labrador’s endorsement. Labrador lost to Brad Little in the May GOP primary for governor.

Fulcher built his career in the Idaho Senate as an unwavering but amiable conservative; he was a frequent sponsor of anti-abortion legislation. He served two years as the Idaho Senate’s majority caucus chairman.

Fulcher’s slogan in his congressional campaign was “Conservative for Congress.” He outraised his opponents in both the primary and general elections and received a big boost from the Club for Growth, a national anti-tax and anti-regulation group that poured more money into independent ads on Fulcher’s behalf in the primary than any other candidate spent on their own campaign.

The Club for Growth also bankrolled former GOP Rep. Bill Sali’s run for the same seat in 2006, when Sali won a hotly contested, six-way GOP primary race with just 25.8 percent of the vote. Sali served a single term before losing in 2008 to Democrat Walt Minnick.

LiCalzi noted President Donald Trump has been married three times and former President Bill Clinton had an affair with an intern while in the White House. “We tend to put up with a lot more from the candidates and politicians than maybe in the past,” he said. But he noted Fulcher’s squeaky-clean image. “Never him, never Fulcher,” LiCalzi said. “I’d never heard anything, never.”

Such matters involving public officials are news, LiCalzi said, in part because “he supports certain family values and such in public life, but doesn’t seem to necessarily live up to them.”

According to the divorce decree issued by Ada County Magistrate Judge Jill Jurries on Sept. 17, the Fulchers are dividing their property, with Kara Fulcher keeping the home in Meridian and Russ Fulcher keeping a 1-acre property the couple owned on Eagle Road. She also was awarded $100,000 from the couple’s joint savings account; Russ Fulcher kept ownership of three business entities. A McCall condo was sold, and the proceeds split. Both agreed the division of property was “fair and equitable.”

Russ Fulcher also agreed to pay all medical bills stemming from his motorcycle accident.