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Lt. Gov. Little open, Rep. Labrador mum on releasing assets

The Idaho Statehouse.

The Idaho Statehouse. Idaho’s three major Republican gubernatorial candidates have not disclosed information about their personal assets, although candidate Tommy Ahlquist has said he plans to do so. File photo

Lt. Gov. Brad Little’s campaign says he’s open to voluntarily disclosing his assets at some point along the gubernatorial campaign trail, but his staffers aren’t saying what Little will hand over or when that might happen.

The Associated Press asked Little and U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador — both Republican candidates running for governor in 2018 — if they would disclose their personal financial ties after opponent Tommy Ahlquist announced the week of Sept 4 he plans on doing so soon.

“Brad is all for transparency, he’s open to disclosure,” said Zach Hauge, Little’s campaign manager, on Sept. 11. “But what does that mean? Tommy hasn’t shown us yet.”

Little has never disclosed his personal assets in his 16 years serving as an elected official in Idaho but he is the grandson of the “sheep king of Idaho,” Andy Little, a Scotsman who traveled to Emmett in 1884 and built an empire with 100,000 sheep.

Meanwhile, Labrador’s campaign has not responded to multiple requests from the AP on whether he will disclose his assets before the May primary election. However, Labrador is already required to disclose his assets as a House representative.

As of 2016, Labrador was ranked as the sixth-poorest member of Congress with a negative average net worth, based on his federal financial disclosures, owing $216,000. According to those report, Labrador has an IRA and bank account, a mortgage on his home, a line of credit from Zions Bank between $100,000 and $250,000 and up to $15,000 in student loans.

Idaho is one of two states that doesn’t require candidates or its governor to release personal financial information.

Honing in on his political outsider campaign message, Ahlquist has since come out in support of disclosing economic interests as a gubernatorial candidate. Ahlquist is an emergency room doctor turned successful developer who is running for political office for the first time.

Under Ahlquist’s recently released term limit and ethics reform plan, the Republican says he will voluntarily disclose his source of personal income, employer, job title for himself and spouse, any businesses he owns, any boards on which he sits and investments that are worth $5,000 or more, as well as property assets. Ahlquist has not said specifically when he will release this information, but promised to do so in the next few weeks.

“This is the most basic and simple of transparency measures that helps avoid conflicts of interest and impropriety among elected officials,” Ahlquist’s plan states.

The last open gubernatorial race was in 2006. Back then, Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter entered the race with his financial interests already disclosed —ranging from $3.9 million to $12 million — because of his congressional background.

At the time, political experts described Otter’s large wealth as unusual for Idaho governors. His Democratic opponent declined to voluntarily hand over his assets.

Otter is not running for a fourth term. No major Democratic candidate is currently in the race.

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