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Donations to Brannon raise questions

| June 23, 2010 10:30 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — It’s no secret the election challenge suit has moved at a snail’s pace, well beyond the 30-day window Idaho statutes intended for such matters.

But should the suit conclude at its Sept. 13 trial date, it doesn’t mean the 11 months of back and forth would necessarily be over.

A new, sticky question could emerge Jan. 30, 2011, if seat 2 challenger Jim Brannon doesn’t disclose the financial contributions he’s rounded up since the election went from the campaign trail to the courtroom.

Brannon, challenging his five-vote loss to City Council incumbent Mike Kennedy, dodged answering questions about whether he intends to file that annual report or not last night before the Kootenai County Republican Party’s central committee meeting.

“One never knows,” he said when asked.

Brannon went on to say he didn’t think he had to disclose the sunshine report that tracks all the donors who’ve contributed $100 to $1,000 to his campaign because the money’s no longer going toward an election but rather to a court battle, so the sunshine laws don’t apply. Sunshine laws say a candidate can be fined $50 per day for nondisclosure.

Back in January the newly elected City Council members were installed, although Brannon and his attorney objected at the time. The installation concluded the election, so since it was concluded election donations from there on out counted as court donations, Brannon contends.

The city sent Brannon a letter reminding him that since he is still collecting, he should meet the Jan. 30, 2011 deadline. The Idaho Secretary of State’s office even weighed in with a letter to the city, stating that since the court battle is tied to the results of the election, the contribution reports should too.

But that opinion cited federal laws, not state statutes, which don’t address the issue.

“Who says” I have to? Brannon asked if he would file.

It’s a question that could be another legal quagmire — more than a year after the polls closed. - Tom Hasslinger

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