A review of gubernatorial candidate Ammon Bundy’s campaign finance report shows he made $4,000 in campaign donations to the law firm that represented him in a criminal case.
The payment, made Aug. 8 to Idaho Injury Law Group on Franklin Road in Boise, is part of the public report on the Secretary of State’s website. Attorney Seth Diviney, who represented Bundy in the criminal case pending until Wednesday, works at the law firm. It is unclear what the payment was for; the financial report listed the $4,000 payment to the company as a “general operating expense”.
Bundy’s criminal trespassing charge stems from an incident when prosecutors say he refused to leave the property outside St. Luke’s Meridian Medical Center on March 12. In the incident, he is charged with misdemeanor trespass.
During a Wednesday hearing in that case, Diviney withdrew her attorney.
“Mr. Bundy wishes my company would no longer represent him,” Diviney told Ada County Magistrate Judge Annie McDevitt during the virtual hearing.
McDevitt granted Diviney’s request to step down and scheduled a status conference for September 29. Bundy told the judge he could hire a new attorney.
Idaho Reports called Diviney’s office twice Wednesday afternoon and left a message but received no response. Idaho Reports also called and emailed the Bundy campaign, but did not receive a response Thursday morning.
Idaho law states that campaign donations cannot be converted for personal use, which means “a contribution will be considered converted for personal use if the contribution is used to fulfill a commitment, obligation or an expense of a person that would exist independently of the candidate’s candidacy for election campaign or the duties of an individual as a holder of public office”.
Chief Assistant Secretary of State Chad Houck said he was not aware of any complaints about the payment.
“If a complaint is filed, we will try to understand. Is it a coincidence? Could he use the same attorney for something campaign-related? said Houck. “You can spend anything during a campaign that is relevant to the campaign or the campaign process.”
It is unclear if Diviney’s office did any work for Bundy outside of the criminal case.
If a complaint were filed, it would be reviewed by the Secretary of State and forwarded to the Attorney General’s office.
Bundy, Ammon Bundy’s political campaign for governor, and his supporters are also being sued by St. Luke’s Health System, although Diviney is not representing Bundy or his campaign in this civil case. The health system says the defendants made false statements against the hospital and led protests that resulted in a temporary lockdown at one facility. The lockdown has resulted in ambulances being diverted to other hospitals. He also alleges that the defendants disparaged St. Luke’s, its CEO Chris Roth, and a St. Luke’s doctor and nurse practitioner.
Neither Bundy nor the Ammon Bundy for Governor campaign was involved in the litigation with St. Luke’s. He did not appear at any of the civil hearings. The next hearing is scheduled for October 11 at 2:30 p.m.
St. Luke’s attorney Erik Stidham of Holland and Hart LLP confirmed with Idaho Reports on Wednesday that Bundy has not named a legal representative in the civil case.
On September 7, Bundy posted a 38-minute explanation on his campaign Facebook page saying he was aware of the lawsuit and was not knowingly participating.
“Everything I said I believed,” Bundy said in the video. “Everything I said, I believe, even today, absolutely accurate and true.”
He said he thought his campaign for governor was “more important” than fighting the lawsuit.
Last week, a district judge disciplined Bundy for refusing to participate and ordered him to sit for a deposition in the case.
A closed complaint
A public record request filed Wednesday with the secretary of state’s office revealed that Bundy’s campaign had received a complaint about campaign finances, but was not related to payment to the law firm.
The lawsuit, filed Jan. 20 by Sarah Richards, alleged that Bundy’s campaign failed to report “crypto donations.” This complaint is now closed.
Houck said it was not a clear violation of Idaho law.
Attorney General spokesman Scott Graf said Thursday that his office had not received a referral regarding the complaint.