Bundy campaign fined for ‘Don’t Vote’ signs
One of the “Don’t Vote” signs placed by Ammon Bundy’s campaign for governor.
(KELCIE MOSELEY-MORRIS/Idaho Capital Sun)
| November 6, 2022 4:00 AM
The Idaho Secretary of State’s office has imposed a fine of $250 and instructed Ammon Bundy’s gubernatorial campaign staff to add the words “Paid for by Ammon Bundy for Governor” to the website associated with signs posted across the state that say, “Don’t Vote.”
The QR code on the signs brings up dontvoteidaho.com, followed by a series of statements about how a person should not vote if they are not informed, and if they do, they are the most dangerous person to a democracy. The site then prompts the person to “Get informed” by going to Bundy’s campaign website.
The Idaho Capital Sun obtained a copy of a letter sent by Deputy Attorney General Robert A. Berry to Bundy’s campaign address on Tuesday. The letter gave notice of the fine for violations of Idaho Code. Berry pointed to a section of Idaho Code around campaign finance that directs candidates to clearly indicate who is responsible for communications that advocate the election, approval or defeat of a candidate or ballot measure.
A representative from Bundy’s campaign could not be reached for comment Friday.
Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck told the Sun on Wednesday that his office was initially unsure if the signs were made in coordination with Bundy’s campaign. As the Sun reported, the domain for the website was attached to an address listed in New Plymouth that matched donation records for Jerry Jones. Jones has donated $3,560 to Bundy since August 2021, according to amended reports on Friday. Previous donation records as of Tuesday showed Jones had donated $6,050.
“In a subsequent interview by phone with (Jones), he claimed no responsibility or involvement with the site or campaign, other than that of a donor/supporter,” Berry said in the letter. “The domain registration was connected to a family member’s business. He also stated that the copies of the signs in question that he had in his possession at the time … had a small sticker disclosing ‘Paid for by Ammon Bundy for Governor’ in the bottom left corner.”
The letter said the stickers are roughly one-by-three inches in size and added to the sign after it was printed.
“The attributions on the ‘Don’t Vote’ signs were roughly one-fifth of the overall size of the same attribution on the immediately adjacent ‘Ammon Bundy for Governor’ signs produced by the campaign, an attribution which is consistent with what would be considered normal and ‘clearly’ visible as per statute,” Berry said in the letter.
While the small disclaimer was on the signs, the letter said the website does not include any attribution to the campaign, and therefore the maximum $250 would be fined. Additionally, the letter requests an acknowledgement from the campaign that all future campaign communications will clearly attribute who paid for them in a manner more consistent with their main campaign signs.
As of Friday morning, the website did not include any statement about who paid for it.
Berry also indicates in the letter that, if the campaign does not pay the fine, the Idaho Attorney General’s office may pursue further legal action to enforce its payment.
The Idaho Capital Sun can be found online at idahocapitalsun.com.