Senate GOP refutes ethics allegations

by Logan Finney, Idaho Reports

Senate Republican leadership issued a statement Friday evening accusing GOP state superintendent candidate Branden Durst of “spurious attacks” and “aggressive actions” against members of the Senate following a committee meeting earlier this week.

The statement is attributed to President Pro Tem Chuck Winder, Majority Leader Kelly Anthon, Assistant Majority Leader Abby Lee, and Majority Caucus Chairman Mark Harris.

Sen. Jim Woodward, R-Sandpoint, told Idaho Reports that Durst approached him after Tuesday’s Senate Education Committee meeting and threatened political retribution for voting against introducing a parental rights draft bill that Durst had presented.

Durst said that Woodward used profanity and poked his finger into Durst’s chest.

Idaho Education News reported that Senate leadership had met on Wednesday morning to discuss the incident.

Durst previously told Idaho Reports that an “ethics investigation into Senator Woodward’s conduct may be forthcoming” following the altercation.

Senate leadership refuted that claim in their statement, saying in part, “No complaints have been been filed against Senator Woodward and no witness has come forward to corroborate” Durst’s version of events.

“Durst was invited to meet with leadership but did not come to the appointment,” the statement reads.

The statement also said that Durst does not have standing to file an ethics complaint with leadership. Only sitting senators can initiate ethics proceedings under Senate Rule 52.

Durst previously served in the Idaho House of Representatives and the Idaho Senate.

“I sent multiple emails to Senate Leadership offering to speak by phone,” Durst tweeted following the statement. “I also shared many concerns with Senator Woodward’s behavior and never received a reply.”

An Idaho State Police spokesperson told Idaho Reports that “no enforcement action was taken” regarding the interaction, and a public records request resulted in no documents.

Idaho Reports has filed a public records request with the Department of Administration for capitol security footage of the altercation.

<strong>Logan Finney</strong> | Associate Producer
Logan Finney | Associate Producer

Logan Finney is a North Idaho native with a passion for media production and boring government meetings. He grew up skiing, hunting and hiking in the mountains of Bonner County and has maintained a lifelong interest in the state’s geography, history and politics. Logan joined the Idaho Reports team in 2020 as a legislative session intern and stayed to cover the COVID-19 pandemic. He was hired as an associate producer in 2021 and they haven’t been able to get rid of him since. 

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