Senate Republican leaders say they are “reviewing possible sanctions” against GOP state superintendent’s candidate Branden Durst, stemming from a pair of tense exchanges Tuesday between Durst and a Republican senator.
The exchanges came 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 Senate offices shortly after; Durst has said he approached Woodward, R-Sagle, to apologize for threatening political retribution.
“It is clear from the information gathered that Mr. Durst acted inappropriately in this situation,” Senate GOP leadership said in the statement, issued late Friday afternoon. “Mr. Durst’s aggressive actions … demonstrate egregious conduct unbecoming of anyone, especially a former legislator and current statewide political candidate.”
Durst has maintained Woodward was the aggressor in Tuesday’s exchange, and told Idaho Public Television’s “Idaho Reports” that an ethics investigation against Woodward “may be forthcoming.” In their statement, Senate Republicans said Woodward is not under investigation.
“No complaints have been filed against Senator Woodward and no witness has come forward to corroborate the version of the story as circulated by Mr. Durst publicly,” Senate Republicans said. “As a former legislator, Mr. Durst is well aware he has no standing to initiate an ethics complaint against a legislator.”
In a series of tweets Friday evening, Durst dismissed the Senate leadership statement as “politically motivated,” suggesting Senate Republican leaders oppose his campaign for state superintendent.
“Senate Leadership clearly wasn’t interested in the truth or holding their own accountable,” Durst said.
Durst’s tweets appear below.
(Disclosure: On Wednesday, Senate President Pro Tem Chuck Winder approached Kevin Richert, who attended Tuesday’s Senate Education meeting, for an account of the exchange between Durst and Woodward. Richert did not see the exchange firsthand, and passed that information on to Winder.)