COEUR d'ALENE - The city of Coeur d'Alene agreed to fund the legal fees seat 2 incumbent Mike Kennedy incurred defending his narrow 2009 victory.
The City Council approved funding $69,660, the mediated amount Kennedy's attorneys and the city agreed upon after Kennedy filed his TORT claim.
The council said paying the fees best served the interest of the public, since similar suits could deter candidates from seeking office. It also put the matter behind them, since the TORT claim, if denied, could warrant future legal action on behalf of Kennedy.
"I'm not happy about it," Kennedy said. "I'm not enthusiastic about it because I know it's been a very difficult process for a lot of people involved."
But it is a relief that it's over, Kennedy said, and officials can address the legal quagmire regarding election challenge fees at the state Legislature, which Kennedy said he will do this year so it doesn't happen again.
Kennedy's 2009 opponent, Jim Brannon, challenged the election on grounds that inadmissible votes had contributed to Brannon's loss. That yearlong court battle ended in September after a six-day trail. It trimmed Kennedy's victory from five votes to three.
Earlier Tuesday, 1st District Judge Charles Hosack denied Brannon's request to vacate the judgment and order a new election.
The judge said there wasn't enough foundation to overturn his ruling, but also denied the city's request to have Brannon pay for $36,000 in fees Coeur d'Alene incurred as a party to the suit.
Instead Brannon will have to pay around $225 in court costs associated with the case between Kennedy and the city.
Kennedy's attorney fees were closer to $107,000, but the city and Kennedy's attorney's agreed to the amount of $69,600 with a retired judge out of Washington as a mediator.
Kennedy sought the city's financial help since, although he was sued personally, he didn't have control over the election or its outcome.
"We have to defend this guy," said Councilman Woody McEvers. "We have to defend our election. If it's not him, it's one of us."
Brannon and his attorney have appealed the election challenge ruling to the Idaho Supreme Court.