Idaho's top legislative leaders have formed a working group to study possible changes to the state's campaign finance laws.
House Speaker Scott Bedke and Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill announced Friday they want the group to find ways to increase transparency in the timing and reporting of campaign activity surrounding candidates, political action committees and lobbyists.
Bedke and Hill have also instructed the 10-member group to look at requiring personal financial disclosures for state lawmakers — Idaho is just one of three states with no such requirement — and implementing laws that prevent elected officials from immediately moving into similar roles in the private sector, also known as "revolving-door" policies.
Hill said the leaders have supported tightening the state's campaign finance laws but ran out of time during this year's legislative session.
"Quite franky, this is an issue we've been talking about for years," Hill said. "It fell through the cracks this session. But we feel like a more coordinated effort will be more successful than having individual lawmakers bring a bunch of different proposals."
Idaho has long been criticized for its loose campaign disclosure laws.
In 2016, ethics and campaign disclosure advocates attempted to get a voter initiative on the November ballot that would have drastically changed candidate donations limits, increased penalties for campaign violations and ban certain gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers. The initiative failed to get enough signatures, but Secretary of State Lawerence Denney has since come out in favor of many of the reforms proposed and has urged the Idaho Legislature to take up the cause.
"We owe it to our citizens to make sure the entire election process is fair, transparent and above board," said House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding of Boise, who was one of the two Democrats appointed to the group. "They have a right to know if 'dark money' is influencing our elections and our elected officials."
The group's first meeting is July 12.