Election Central

Flash: Idaho lawmakers return campaign contributions

It’s not often a considerable number of legislators return money intended to help them win re-election, but that’s precisely what happened with a series of small gifts in recent weeks.

The story of how top lawmakers, including Speaker of the House Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, and Senate President Pro Tem Bren Hill, R-Rexburg, returned the money will run on Page 1 of  Sunday’s Idaho Statesman.

The money was returned because Bedke, Hill and Secretary of State Ben Ysursa said the contribution raised ethical red flags because contributors make a direct connection between the money and an issue before the 2014 Legislature — how to clear the way for land exchanges for cottage site lessees on state land at Priest and Payette Lakes.

An organized effort by leaseholders at Priest Lake prompted letters saying, “money buys elections” and “I hope I can buy a little of your attention,” prompted several recipients to return the money.

For a preview of the story, watch “Idaho Reports” at 8 p.m. Mountain Time Friday night, or later online.

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