Election Central

Balukoff’s financial disclosures may revive effort to require candidate transparency

The debate over adding personal financial disclosure by candidates to Idaho’s Sunshine Law may get new life with the voluntarily disclosures of Democratic gubernatorial candidate A.J. Balukoff that he and his wife’s net worth exceeds $60 million.

The man Balukoff seeks to replace — two-term GOP Gov. Butch Otter — disclosed his worth when he was required to do so as a member of Congress. After leaving the House to become governor, Otter supported a 2009 bill that would have made Idaho the 48th state to require financial disclosure.

That year, Senate Bill 1156, authored by Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls, and then-Senate Minority Leader Kate Kelly, D-Boise, passed the Senate 34-0. The bill, however, never got a hearing in the House because then-Speaker Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, refused to let the measure advance.

Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, said Tuesday said he would welcome a revival of the issue.

“I’m interesting in having some kind of disclosure,” Hill said. “But we need to feel like the House is comfortable enough to at least give it a hearing and an up or down vote.”

Denney’s replacement, Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, said Balukoff’s disclosures “may very well” rekindle the debate. “But I’m not going to telegraph my decision.”

The Davis-Kelly bill would have required elected officials and candidates to disclose sources of income but not the amount, along with major Idaho assets, including real estate. Otter’s Chief of Staff David Hensley worked with Davis and Kelly on drafting the bill.

But when the measure amending Idaho’s Sunshine Law reached the House, Denney ended any consideration of the bill by holding it at the speaker’s desk. Denney, replaced last year by the GOP caucus with Speaker Bedke, is now running for secretary of state, the office that administers the Sunshine Law that requires campaign finance and lobbying disclosure.

Hill said Tuesday that he had several conversations with Denney about the House presenting a measure it could support, but that he never heard back from the former speaker.



Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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Posted in Election Central, Idaho Politics