Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador takes wife off campaign payroll

Idaho 1st District GOP Rep. Raúl Labrador is no longer using campaign funds to pay his wife’s salary or to pay for a campaign vehicle.

The Spokesman-Review’s Betsy Z. Russell ferreted out these details from Labrador’s recent campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Labrador had been paying his wife, Becca, $2,022 a month to keep the campaign’s books. Those payments stopped on Jan. 1.

Paying a spouse or other close relative with campaign funds isn’t illegal, but it’s controversial.

“It’s almost like a Trump thing,” Jasper LiCalzi, a political scientist at the College of Idaho, told Russell. “It’s not illegal. It looks bad, but it’s not illegal. Hey, you’re allowed to do this — it just doesn’t look right.”

Labrador also stopped using campaign money to make monthly payments on a campaign vehicle.

The latest finance report shows that Labrador paid $12,000 of his own money to the campaign to purchase the car, a 2013 Ford Taurus.

LiCalzi said Labrador, who is running for governor, may be clearing away potential issues for his opponents to bring up in what’s expected to be a highly competitive governor’s race in 2018. Labrador already faces two other high-profile GOP rivals, Lt. Gov. Brad Little and Boise developer and physician Tommy Ahlquist.

“It sounds like he’s trying to clear the decks of some of the issues that have been brought up in the past, take some of the ammunition away from the other two,” LiCalzi told Russell. “I think it’s pretty smart on his part.”