‘Blatant conduct unbecoming of anyone:’ Senate GOP leaders condemn Durst

Senate Republican leaders say they are “considering possible sanctions” against GOP state superintendent nominee Branden Durst following tense exchanges on Tuesday between Durst and a Republican senator.

The exchanges took place after the Senate Education Committee rejected a parental rights bill co-sponsored by Durst. After the vote, Durst approached Woodward in the committee room and said Woodward’s opposition to the bill would cost him in the May GOP primary. The two spoke again in the offices of the Senate shortly afterwards; Durst said he reached out to Woodward, R-Sagle, to apologize for threatening political retaliation.

“It is clear from the information gathered that Mr. Durst acted inappropriately in this situation,” the Senate GOP leadership said in the statement, released late Friday afternoon. “Sir. Durst’s aggressive actions…demonstrate flagrant conduct unbecoming of anyone, especially a former lawmaker and current statewide political candidate.

Durst argued that Woodward was the abuser during Tuesday’s exchange and told Idaho Public Television’s “Idaho Public Television” that an ethics investigation against Woodward “may be imminent.” In their statement, Senate Republicans said Woodward was not under investigation.

“No charges have been filed against Senator Woodward and no witnesses have come forward to corroborate the version of the story as publicly broadcast by Mr. Durst,” Senate Republicans said. “As a former lawmaker, Mr. Durst is well aware that he does not have standing to bring an ethics complaint against a lawmaker.”

In a series of tweets late Friday, Durst dismissed the Senate leadership’s statement as “politically motivated,” suggesting that Senate Republican leaders oppose his campaign for state superintendent.

“The Senate leadership was clearly not interested in truth or accountability for its own accounts,” Durst said.

Durst’s tweets appear below.

(Disclosure: On Wednesday, Senate Speaker Pro Tem Chuck Winder reached out to Kevin Richert, who attended Tuesday’s Senate education meeting, for an update on the exchange between Durst and Woodward. Richert n didn’t see the exchange firsthand and passed that information on to Winder. )

Kevin Richert

About Kevin Richert

A senior journalist and blogger, Kevin Richert specializes in education policy and education policy. He has over 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on KIVI 6 On Your Side; “Idaho Reports” on Idaho Public Television; and “Idaho Matters” on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

Read more stories by Kevin Richert »

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