The Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, a lobbying group that represents Idaho's biggest businesses, has developed a special website attacking Democratic candidate for governor Keith Allred with criticisms that Allred contends are false, the Associated Press reports. The site, www.allredink.com, says that if the Idaho Legislature had listened to Allred when it set its fiscal year 2010 budget, the state would have been left with an $82 million deficit. Allred calls that "flat wrong" because he criticized only Idaho's austere budget for fiscal year 2011 starting July 1, not the 2010 spending plan ending June 30, and he demanded the website be corrected or taken down. He contends economic indicators show the economy will improve in 2011. IACI head Alex LaBeau says if the website contains an error he'll have it corrected, but said, "The information we have is what we double-checked." Click below to read the full story from AP reporter John Miller.
Allred target of Idaho biz group's web attack
By JOHN MILLER, Associated Press Writer
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Keith Allred is being targeted by a business group's critical website, but he says the attack spreads inaccurate information.
The Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry's political action committee posted its website on Wednesday evening. Alex LaBeau, the business group's director, said he hired a Florida firm to conduct automated phone calls directing Idaho residents to the website.
The site said that if the Idaho Legislature had listened to Allred when it set its fiscal year 2010 budget, the state would have been left with an $82 million deficit.
But Allred says the website is "flat wrong" because he's criticized only Idaho's austere budget for fiscal year 2011 starting July 1, not the 2010 spending plan ending June 30. He demanded the website be corrected or taken down.
"I've always said, being conservative for the rest of fiscal year 2010 made sense," Allred said.
But for fiscal year 2011, he added, "I've said we should budget based on the evidence. And the evidence said the economy would improve next year — and the sales tax revenues over the last several months confirm that."
LaBeau says if the website made a mistake, he'll have it corrected.
"Of course, he's saying that now," LaBeau said Wednesday. "But we've got to go back and check what his numbers were. But right now, the information we have is what we double-checked. And we were very thorough about that."
LaBeau's group has given Republican Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, Allred's presumed foe in November, the maximum $10,000 for the 2010 primary and general elections.
Here's what is at issue:
Idaho's latest April tax revenue figures were released Monday, coming in $55 million below state chief economist Mike Ferguson's forecasts.
Had the 2010 Legislature set current year spending at Ferguson's forecast, the state would be facing an $82 million deficit, so far, in the 2010 budget year. By budgeting to a lower number, however, lawmakers left the state with just a $13.5 million deficit, so far.
LaBeau's group's website contends Allred favored Ferguson's forecast for fiscal year 2010, then asks "Can Idaho afford Obama-style government?"
"We fact-checked that deeply," LaBeau said.
But Allred said LaBeau's fact checking was inadequate, because the Democrat limited his criticism to the Legislature's and Otter's move to actions taken for 2011, including cuts to public education.
A separate review of press releases and statements by Allred's campaign since January by The Associated Press indicates his criticism of the budget was limited to 2011 and didn't include 2010.
Allred and the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry have tangled before.
In 2006, the association was on the losing side of a fight with Allred's activist group, The Common Interest, when the Idaho Legislature approved a law allowing a tax exemption for homeowners to rise or fall with the rate of inflation.
That's reduced the tax bill for thousands of Idaho homeowners since then, but the business group argued letting the exemption adjust for inflation would likely shift the tax burden to other taxpayers, including businesses.
LaBeau said he wasn't the group's director in 2006.
"I would never say there's bad blood," LaBeau said, when asked if Wednesday's ad was linked to the fight four years ago. "It's not a hatred thing. I'd go have a cup of coffee with the guy. We disagree about policy questions."
Otter faces five GOP rivals in the May 25 primary.
Allred faces Lee Chaney of Preston.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.