Anonymous complaint says Ammon Bundy repeatedly violated campaign finance laws
UPDATE 4:45 p.m. 11/4/22:
Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck said Friday afternoon that administrative rules require any complaint to be submitted on the office’s form and be signed by a registered Idaho voter.The anonymous letter writer has yet to do so with just four days until the election.
The original story continues below:
An anonymous Idaho voter is questioning Ammon Bundy’s expenses made through his gubernatorial campaign, accusing him of enriching himself through donations and otherwise illegally spending contributions – including at a medieval-themed restaurant.
The move comes just days before polls close for November's general election.
In a letter emailed to the Idaho Secretary of State’s office through Boise law firm Givens Pursley, the complaint outlines several allegations, including several possible violations outlined in reporting from March by Boise State Public Radio.
Since June 1, 2021, Bundy has paid $24,000 in $1,500 monthly installments to a now-defunct Wyoming corporation, Abish-Husbondi Inc. The business listed Bundy as its president and sole officer in an annual report filed with the Wyoming Secretary of State’s office last year.
Idaho law states that, in general, “A contribution shall not be converted by any person to personal use.”
However, in prior reporting from Boise State Public Radio, the law appears silent on whether a candidate can contract with their own businesses. Explicitly prohibited activities include paying a candidate’s mortgage, utility bills, vacation or tuition with political donations.
At the time, Wendy Leatham, Bundy’s campaign manager, declined to say what the payments were for. Campaign finance records list them as general operational expenses.
Leatham’s own lack of salary with the campaign also comes into question, as well as sharing the same address as Bundy.
Other alleged violations in the complaint question the roughly $12,700 he’s spent on food or meals since May.
Idaho law only allows candidates to use campaign contributions towards food or meals if it’s part of a campaign activity, a ticket to an event to enhance a candidate or as part of a function related to their responsibilities.
“The amount of these purchases seem to suggest that only a small amount of people are receiving meals,” the complaint reads, saying the expenditures could violate state law.
It also questions $225 spent at Medieval Times, a dinner theater restaurant chain, in Kissimmee, Florida on July 12.
“[Our client] is struggling to see how this expense is allowable under Idaho law, much less related to Mr. Bundy’s Campaign at all,” the complaint reads.
According to campaign finance records, Bundy’s campaign spent about $290 that same day at a gas station in Preston and a diner in Heyburn.
Another $22,100 in travel charges is alleged to be funding Bundy’s personal expenses, including claims donations are paying for vehicle repairs, insurance and towing.
In-kind contributions to the campaign are also called into question by the complaint.
As previously reported by Boise State Public Radio, Diego Rodriguez and his family made a total of $30,000 of in-kind donations for advertising production and preparation last December.
Rodriguez owns Power Marketing Consultants, LLC, and lists several of those family members as employees on the company’s website. The complaint says those contributions may be illegal if the work was completed through the company, since corporate donations to statewide candidates in Idaho are limited to $5,000.
“… candidates who choose to divert campaign funds for their own personal enrichment not only threaten Idaho’s electoral process, but undermine public confidence in our elected officials,” the complaint reads.
Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck said Thursday evening his office had received the letter, but that it was not yet a formal complaint. Houck said he will be in further contact with Givens Pursley about the allegations.
Leatham didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment, but previously told Boise State Public Radio the campaign “follows all finance laws as administered by the Idaho Secretary of State.”
Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.
Copyright 2022 Boise State Public Radio