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Sanchez’s campaign spending shows she either violated state law (again) or she’s reckless with other people’s money

Sanchez’s campaign spending shows she either violated state law (again) or she’s reckless with other people’s money

Wayne Hoffman
January 23, 2023

I’m glad Lisa Sanchez’s stint as Boise’s only racist city council member has come to an end after she moved out of her district and subsequently kicked herself from office. We all remember how Sanchez said she didn’t have children because of a “fear of their abuse and murder by white people."

But Sanchez still has some explaining to do because it looks to me — a man who has read hundreds if not thousands of campaign finance reports over the last 35 years — that she’s been playing fast and loose with the donations given to her campaign. 

In 2022, a non-election year in city politics, Sanchez spent more than $14,600 in campaign contributions according to the secretary of state’s office. That may not seem like very much money, but it’s an order of magnitude more than what other members of the Boise City Council reported in 2022. 

Holli Woodings, the Boise City Council president, spent almost $3,000. Council Pro Tem Jimmy Hallyburton spent $368. Patrick Bageant spent $2,000. Luci Willits spent just over $3,300. Records for Elaine Clegg were not available on the secretary of state’s website. 

It’s not just the difference in aggregate spending that makes me wonder if there’s not something going on here. It’s the things she bought with that money that seem, shall we say, suspicious. 

Her campaign documents show that she spent her donors’ money at a dozen restaurants, frequenting some of them on multiple occasions, including fast food joints like Jimmy John’s ($32.34) and upscale restaurants like Chandler’s ($207.62). Her single biggest tab was for Amano Restaurante in Caldwell, $700. In all, Sanchez appears to have spent at least $2,700 on food. 

It’s certainly possible those food entries are legitimate campaign expenses. Why wouldn’t a city councilor from Boise hold a campaign event at a restaurant in Caldwell, 30 minutes away (in good traffic) just last month, 13 months after her reelection in November 2021?

State law prohibits candidates from using campaign funds for personal expenses, including meals, although there are exceptions for officeholder-related expenses. I’m just skeptical that the $22 she spent at Krispy Kreme in May was either related to her campaign or an official expense. 

Maybe I’d be less suspicious if Sanchez hadn’t gotten in trouble for misusing her campaign account in the past. In October 2021, Sanchez had to repay $221 to her campaign account because she used it for personal expenses, much of which was food. 

I’m also suspicious of the $4,000 management fee paid in June to leftist activist Emily Walton because it seems unlikely that Sanchez needed any campaign management help in the summer of 2022.  

Maybe Sanchez hasn’t done anything wrong at all, but I’m guessing that there’s something here, that Sanchez has again broken Idaho’s campaign finance laws. But then again, maybe she’s just reckless with other people’s money. All the more reason we should be grateful she’s not in office anymore.

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