- Associated Press - Monday, February 27, 2017

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Boise businessman Tommy Ahlquist has promised to file as a registered candidate for governor following a complaint, an Idaho official said Monday.

Secretary of State Lawerence Denney said he received the informal complaint last week alleging Ahlquist has been campaigning while attending multiple Republican-sponsored events without being a registered candidate.

Denney declined to say who filed the complaint but said it did not come from the campaign of Republican gubernatorial candidate Brad Little.

The secretary of state’s office did not investigate the claim to see if it was true. Instead, state officials contacted Ahlquist’s team on Friday and were told they planned on registering Tuesday and holding a media event Wednesday.

A spokesman for Ahlquist declined to comment when contacted by The Associated Press.

Idaho’s campaign laws are detailed about what candidates can and cannot accept when it comes to donations before officially registering with the state, but the statutes are not as clear when it comes to attending Republican events and gaining name recognition, Denney said.

“We don’t really have anything in our code that lets us investigate that kind of complaint,” Denney said. “An exploratory committee is allowed, but you can’t take money without being a registered candidate.”

Ahlquist, a Republican, has been considering running for Idaho’s top elected seat for the past several months.

He’s the chief operating officer of Gardner Co., where he led a number of high-profile construction projects in downtown Boise, including the Zion Bank building and City Center Plaza.

Ahlquist has attended several Republican Lincoln Day events.

GOP officials in almost every county in the state hold their own version of a Lincoln Day, inviting Republican leaders to speak and allowing others to mingle. They are considered influential campaign stops for candidates to gain name recognition, support and donations.

Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter previously announced he will not seek re-election when his term ends in 2018. So far, Little - currently the lieutenant governor - and former GOP gubernatorial candidate and former state Sen. Russ Fulcher have officially entered the governor’s race.

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