Abuse, harassment claims surface in Boise School Board election

Branden Durst is denying claims of abuse and harassment stemming from a divorce.

The claims have been making the rounds in the political periphery, as Durst runs for a seat on the Boise School Board. Cynthia Sewell of the Idaho Statesman reported on the issue Tuesday.

The claims also surfaced in 2016, when Durst ran unsuccessfully for a legislative seat in Washington state.

“King County Superior Court records show court commissioners issued temporary protection orders for domestic violence and harassment against Durst for parts of the last three years after requests by his ex-wife. The orders were rolled into the divorce case and into ongoing child custody proceedings,” The Olympian reported in July 2016. “Durst’s ex-wife accused him of punching doors and walls near her, wrestling her for car keys, tackling her young son and verbally threatening her and her mother in separate incidents. Durst denies the events happened.”

Durst never was charged with a crime, Sewell reported.

As the Sept. 4 school board election approaches, the abuse and harassment claims might have cost Durst an endorsement. Boise City Council member TJ Thomson endorsed Durst on Facebook on Aug. 4. He deleted his endorsement the next day, after several commenters posted about the claims involving Durst.

“Many comments came up on issues (about Durst) I had no knowledge of when I made the post,” Thomson told Sewell.

While Boise school board elections are usually low-key in nature, this election has taken on a different tone. Much of the talk — especially among Boise Democrats active in social media circles — has centered on Durst, a former state legislator who moved back to Idaho earlier this year. Idaho Education News was among several news outlets who were contacted about Thomson’s short-lived endorsement.

As Boise State University administrator Alicia Shier Estey racks up several big-name endorsements in the school board race — including backing from Boise Mayor Dave Bieter and retiring trustee and two-time Democratic gubernatorial candidate A J Balukoff — Durst is distancing himself from what he calls the “political establishment.”

“Let’s be honest, I am not the pick of the political elite and their appointees,” Durst wrote on his campaign Facebook page. “That’s just not who I am, or who I want to be.”

More reading: Click here for coverage from Tuesday’s school board candidates’ forum.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "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]

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