Mysterious door hangings in Idaho Falls City Council race likely violate Idaho law
Published at | Updated at
IDAHO FALLS — Door hangings from an unknown person or group slamming incumbent Idaho Falls City Council members likely violate Idaho campaigning laws.
Residents across the city found the door hangings at their homes over the weekend. The two-sided flyer tells people to “remove these incumbents from office” and says Jim Francis, Jim Freeman and Lisa Burtenshaw “support the leftist agenda.” The other side encourages voters to elect “limited government, conservative candidates” Robert Thompson, Karie Caldwell and Sandra Hokanson.
A QR code directs recipients to a county directory of polling places. The flyer does not say who is responsible or who paid for the hangings.
This is likely a violation of a section of Idaho’s “Sunshine Law,” which directs political funding and lobbyist activity disclosure. Idaho law says “the person responsible for such communication shall be clearly indicated” on campaign signs or other materials.
Bonneville County Elections Supervisor Brenda Prudent confirmed the elections office was made aware of the campaign material and is working to determine who is behind the flyers. If election officials don’t get answers, the case will be turned over to law enforcement.
EastIdahoNews.com contacted each of the candidates listed on the hanger. Thompson said he does not know who distributed it and said his official campaign materials indicate they are paid for by his campaign.
Caldwell said her campaign did not put out the literature, and she does not know who did.
“I have been letting everyone who has inquired about this know that it did not come from my campaign,” Caldwell said. “As you’re aware, candidates don’t always have control over outside individuals and their actions.”
Hokanson said she was not responsible for the door hanger and had not seen it until the elections office reached out to her Monday.
“I don’t know who it is. … If it’s a group or a person, I can’t tell them what to do,” Hokanson said. “I can’t control the people.”
Burtenshaw and Francis said the flyer attacking them is not accurate as to their positions and campaigns. The literature says Burtenshaw, Francis and Freeman advocate lockdowns, supports mask mandates and ignores science that challenges the “official” COVID narrative. Burtenshaw has only been on the City Council for six months and prior to her appointment, the city council relied on Eastern Idaho Public Health for COVID-19 policies.
“I’ve spoken publicly. I’ve filled out the forms for East Idaho News and said I don’t support anything continuing to COVID,” Burtenshaw said. “I don’t think it’s the city’s responsibility.”
Francis said he felt the flyer did not portray what the City Council has done in the past.
“There is not a true statement in there,” Francis said. “Whoever wrote it just made up stuff that they already believed in. … It’s just hard to counter it when this stuff is made up and put out there like that.”
Francis said the flyer is from someone trying to put fear into the local election while dividing people.
“Creating fear in order to get votes is exactly the wrong thing to do in a democracy,” he said. “The harder thing is to build a community and try to work on solutions to problems. That is much more difficult in creating fear.”
Freeman was not immediately available for comment.
The maximum punishment for violating the law is $250 if it is an individual, and $2,500 if it is a group.