Election Central

Idaho CD2: Simpson unleashes latest attack ad on Smith

The campaign for Idaho second congressional district incumbent Mike Simpson released its latest attack ad on challenger Bryan Smith on Thursday.

The 30-second spot will air in the Idaho Falls, Twin Falls and Boise markets — the second congressional district’s main population centers — according to the campaign.  It attacks Smith’s business dealings, focusing on his experience in debt collection.

One fact-checking issue I want to bring up: The ad repeats an earlier campaign video’s reference to a 2012 case in which one of Smith’s collection firms, Diversified Equity Systems, sued Esther Garcia for money she owed for what appeared to have been a short-term, high-interest loan. The new Simpson ad zeroes in on Ada County Judge Patricia Young’s comments about “excessive amounts,” claiming she used the words in reference to the fees Smith’s debt collection and law firms charged.

I’m not sure that’s true. I reviewed the hearing in question, a telephone call between Young and Bryan Zollinger, the attorney in Smith’s firm who handles most of the lawsuits that stem from Smith’s debt collection firms’ unsuccessful efforts.

“I find the amounts exceeding(ly) excessive,” Young said in that telephone call.

Given the context of the rest of the conversation, though, I believe Young was actually referring to the interest that had accumulated on Garcia’s loan, which was many times the principle amount.


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