Election Central

Boise Democrat King’s solicitation of lobbyists raises eyebrows

Rep. Phylis King emailed lobbyists Sunday suggesting they attend Friday’s $25 “Dems Under the Dome” event as “a great opportunity to help Ada County Democrats” — despite a practice that discourages fundraising by lawmakers during the legislative session.

King’s invitation does not violate the law or any rule, but does “hit a gray area that all of us in this building should probably be more careful about,” said Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum.

“I probably wouldn’t have made that direct solicitation because I divide my lines pretty clearly,” Stennett said Tuesday. “But I don’t think she’s gone over the line because she’s not personally receiving it.”

King said she considered ethics — a key topic for minority Democrats in recent years — before sending her emails on the eve of the 2014 Legislature.

“This fundraiser is not for me personally, as in money for my vote,” King said. “This fundraiser is for the Ada Dems and it keeps the doors open here in Boise.”

I’ll have more on this story in Wednesday’s print edition and online, including more from King and comments from former GOP Sen. Skip Smyser, a lobbyist who pressed lawmakers to stop raising money during legislative sessions; House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston; and House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley.

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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