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Idaho legislative candidate returns haircut expenditures after campaign finance complaint

Door to the Secretary of State’s office at the Idaho State Capitol building on March 23, 2021. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)
Otto Kitsinger
Door to the Secretary of State’s office at the Idaho State Capitol building on March 23, 2021. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)

A campaign finance complaint related to personal expenditures for haircuts has been resolved after the Democratic candidate in a legislative district in Pocatello said he will repay the $92.

Nate Roberts is a candidate for the Idaho Legislature in Seat B of District 29, which is an open seat with no incumbent. Roberts’ opponent, Jake Stevens, filed a formal complaint with the Idaho Secretary of State’s office highlighting three expenditures at Ef.Fin Barbershop in Pocatello on March 22, April 29 and July 1.

Stevens filed the complaint on Friday, according to Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck.

“Earlier today, it was brought to my attention that I made an easily fixable misstep. I needed to look my best for a professional photoshoot and thought it fit for the campaign to cover the expense,” Roberts wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday afternoon. “I made the error in earnest, took immediate steps to correct it, and the matter is now resolved.”

Houck told the Sun the campaign elected to return the funds without any prompting from his office to avoid the appearance of any impropriety, but said his office likely would have made the same recommendation without any other issues.

“It’s not something we’re going to chase down and go through the process of fining or otherwise,” Houck said.

In a press release, Stevens called the expenditures a “clear misuse of campaign funds according to Idaho law” and called for Roberts to immediately drop out of the race.

Houck said the law allows for personal expenses that would not otherwise have been incurred if the candidate was not campaigning.

“You can argue maybe he got more haircuts than normal because if he wasn’t campaigning, he wouldn’t look so clean cut,” Houck said.

The general election will be held Nov. 8.

The Idaho Capital Sun is a nonprofit news organization delivering accountability reporting on state government, politics and policy in the Gem state. As longtime Idahoans ourselves, we understand the challenges and opportunities facing Idaho. We provide in-depth reporting on legislative and state policy, health care, tax policy, the environment, Idaho’s explosive population growth and more. Our mission is relentless investigative journalism that sheds light on how decisions in Boise and beyond are made and how they affect everyday Idahoans. We aim to tell untold stories and provide data, context and analysis on the issues that matter most throughout the state. The Capital Sun is part of States Newsroom, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit supported by grants and a coalition of donors and readers. We retain full editorial independence.