BOISE - Idaho Democrats are accusing the state Republican Party of illegal campaign donations and are calling on the secretary of state to investigate.
Democrats released a chain of emails that appear to be between an ad agency, GOP Executive Director David Johnston and District 6B candidate Mike Kingsley's campaign.
The party says this string of correspondence is regarding a television attack advertisement against Democratic Rep. John Rusche that's being paid for by the Idaho Republican Party.
Democrats say these emails show a violation of campaign finance laws - and based on secretary of state finance reports the Idaho GOP already maxed out the $4,000 limit they can give Kingsley.
"But the problem is once you've contributed $4,000 maximum you cannot coordinate with the campaign again to give them mroe money," Idaho Democratic spokesperson Dean Ferguson said. "That's when it becomes what's called an independent expenditure."
"If this was an independent expenditure then there wouldn't be a litany of emails connecting the dots between campaign employees and David Johnston of the Idaho Republican Party," Democratic Rep. and House Assistant Minority Leader Mat Erpelding said.
Democrats accuse Johnston of saying "let's go scalp this guy" - referring to Rep. Rusche in an email.
They say this is unacceptable - especially in a district that includes the Nez Perce Reservation.
Rusche issued the following statement Friday:
“This behavior by the campaign and the state party is disturbing”, said Rusche. “It is unfortunate that Kingsley and the Republican staff feel the need to cheat to try to win this election. The County and State Republican Parties have already donated the maximum allowed by law to the Kingsley campaign. Now they want free reign to unleash coordinated attack ads on me.
“I am disturbed and saddened by the language used by somebody in Mr. Johnston’s position, The derogatory and inflammatory language displayed by Mr. Johnston is highly offensive to Idahoans.
“Idahoans want leaders who can respect each other and work together, which I have always done. My endorsement by prominent local Republicans and my long record of collaboration speak volumes. This sort of destructive campaigning is part of what my constituents hate most about politics, and none of us should support it.”
The Idaho Republican Party sent us the following statement from Chairman Steve Yates on Saturday afternoon:
"The individuals referred to in the Democrats' frivolous complaint are the state party executive director, the Lewiston field director, and our state party legislative district 6 chair. All of them are well within their legal rights to discuss party matters. In fact it would be odd if they did not.
None of them are employees of the Kingsley campaign, and none coordinated with the Kingsley campaign on this matter.
I have every confidence that formal review of this matter will result in affirmation of the integrity of those involved, who will be owed a public apology from their accusers."