Politics & Government

Former Idaho GOP congressman says elections panel cleared him

WASHINGTON — Former Idaho Rep. Bill Sali told supporters over the weekend that the Federal Election Commission sent him a letter saying the problems he had last year filing disclosure forms were the fault of the regulatory agency itself.

Sali, a one-term Republican congressman from Kuna, was defeated in November by Democrat Walt Minnick. He had repeated computer problems last year while filing his July quarterly reports.

At the time, Sali's campaign blamed software problems. Only one other member of Congress, Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, had also failed to file a report that same quarter. The reports show which individuals and political action committees are donating to candidates, and how those candidates are spending their campaign cash.

Sali's campaign criticized press inquiries into his reports and complained that reporters had overemphasized the importance of disclosure forms in congressional races. In his recent e-mail to supporters, the subject line was "Media Bias."

"The media and the Walt Minnick campaign ignored my explanation, and my staff and I were openly accused of simply being incompetent."

"My staff and I have now been officially vindicated by the FEC," he added.

Sali did not respond to an e-mail or a phone call to his home. The letter Sali refers to has not yet been made public by the FEC, which only releases such documents 30 days after an administrative review is final.

Sali wrote that he is still considering whether to try to win back a seat in Congress. Two other Republicans already are running: State Rep. Ken Roberts of Donnelly, and Vaughn Ward of Eagle, a former campaign worker for 2008 GOP presidential candidate John McCain.

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