Idaho Dems: Politically Connected Bench Nominee 'Offensive' 

click to enlarge Erika Malmen - PERKINS COIE
  • Perkins Coie
  • Erika Malmen

Idaho Democrats are pushing back against reports that a Boise attorney, wife of a high-profile lobbyist and one-time chief of staff to Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter is a prime candidate to become Idaho's next federal district judge.

Earlier this week the Spokesman-Review's Betsy Russell first reported Erika Malmen, "whose law practice has been largely limited to environmental administrative law," is the subject of background checks "in preparation for her nomination for the judgeship."

In a statement issued Thursday night, Idaho Democratic Party Communications Director Dean Ferguson wrote Malmen's possible nomination is "tainted by her husband's role as an Idaho Power lobbyist and GOP operative." Meanwhile, the offices of U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch told Russell they would "not discuss any individuals who may or may not be under consideration" for the vacant post.

Russell reported Jeff Malmen was chief of staff to two Idaho governors and is currently a vice president of Idaho Power, which has contributed approximately $20,000 to Risch's previous U.S. Senate campaigns.

”For Idaho’s U.S. senators to nominate the wife of one of Idaho’s top GOP political operatives, it is offensive and corrupt at its core," read the statement from the Idaho Democratic Party. "Idahoans have a right to expect a competent and fair judge—whose appointment is not linked directly to a few well-connected, wealthy special interests—to serve this lifetime appointment." 

According to her biography posted by her employer, the Boise office of Perkins Coie, Erika Malmen was ranked by Chambers USA as "America's leading environment and natural resource lawyer," listed as a "rising star" by Mountain States Super Lawyers, and listed as a "leader in law" by the Idaho Business Review, as well as among the paper's "accomplished under 40."

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