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Denney, Moyle use House leadership PAC to try to defeat Roberts

Here's a news item from the Associated Press:  BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― Top House Republicans Lawerence Denney and Mike Moyle are trying to oust their own Majority Caucus Chairman Ken Roberts from the Legislature by directing thousands to a political action committee that supports Roberts' opponent in Tuesday's primary. GUNPAC, a pro-2nd Amendment PAC, endorsed Roberts' District 8 foe, John Blattler. Denney, the House speaker, gave GUNPAC $10,000 via a House GOP leadership political action committee he controls. Moyle, the majority leader, chipped in another $5,000. Moyle said Tuesday that Roberts opposes him in leadership, so he's trying to get him ousted. Roberts, who is listed as treasurer of the GOP leadership PAC that Denney is using to unseat him, says he's disappointed, adding he thought House PAC money was to help incumbents in general elections, not knock them off in primaries. Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

Denney, Moyle give thousands to unseat GOP rivals
By JOHN MILLER, Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Top House Republicans Lawerence Denney and Mike Moyle aim to oust their own Majority Caucus Chairman Ken Roberts from the Idaho Legislature by directing thousands of dollars to a political action committee that supports Roberts' opponent in Tuesday's primary.

GunPAC, a Republican-leaning political fund, endorsed Roberts' District 8 foe, John Blattler. It is also supporting at least five other libertarian-leaning candidates challenging Republican incumbents.

Denney, the House speaker, gave GunPAC $10,000 earlier this year through the Victory Fund, a House GOP leadership PAC he controls. He didn't return a phone call seeking comment.

Moyle, the majority leader who chipped in $5,000 to GunPAC, said Tuesday that Roberts opposes him in leadership, so he's trying to get him ousted.

“He lied to me last year and tried to take me out of leadership,” Moyle said. “He let me know that if he comes back, he would try it again. I'm going to send a little love his way, so people know how he votes and how he is. When somebody threatens me, I take it seriously. It's nothing personal. But he's made it clear, he doesn't like me.”

Roberts, from Donnelly, says he's differed on policy matters with Denney and Moyle, but thought they remained on civil terms.

Roberts was listed as the treasurer of the Victory Fund, but said he didn't know Denney was using it to help unseat him.

“It's a little disingenuous and highly disappointing,” Roberts said, adding he'd previously believed the GOP fund was to help incumbents in general elections, not to knock them off in primaries.

Roberts said he never lied to Moyle.

“I know that Mike and I have had our differences on legislation,” Roberts said. “We did this year. Everybody has differences on legislation from time to time. But you put it behind you and you go on. Obviously that's not the case.”

GunPAC, which has branched out to other issues after being founded to support gun rights, is among three political action committees coordinated by Republican political strategist Lou Esposito, once an adviser to U.S. Rep. Bill Sali. The other two, the Idaho Land PAC and the Free Enterprise PAC, also endorse Blattler over Roberts.

Last week, the Free Enterprise PAC sent an independent mailing criticizing Roberts' efforts this year to help Boise County pay a $5 million court judgment. Roberts' bill would have allowed Boise County to raise property taxes without a vote of residents; after it failed, a subsequent measure requiring a vote became law.

“His unconstitutional scheme was defeated by conservatives in the House,” according to the Free Enterprise PAC mailing sent to potential GOP voters in Gem, Boise and Valley counties urging they back Blattler.

Esposito, a Republican member of the first 2011 redistricting committee that failed to draw up new legislative maps after partisan bickering, said Roberts had it coming.

“All of a sudden, you start sponsoring bills that run counter to the principles that the Free Enterprise PAC stands for,” Esposito said.

Roberts once supported the Free Enterprise PAC, giving it $1,000 in January 2011.

“They were short money to do some voter ID,” Roberts remembered, adding it's disconcerting to learn the same GOP fund is now financing campaign mail to unseat him.

Esposito insisted none of Roberts' own money went to fund the ad against him.

The Free Enterprise PAC drained its cash at the close of 2011; only 2012 receipts went toward the anti-Roberts mailing.

Esposito added he's not mixing the three PACs' money, either, even though they support the same list of candidates.

“I have a Chinese wall, and I have people working for me doing the different work on the various PACs on the various candidates,” he said.

Besides Roberts, the five Republican incumbents who have drawn the three PACs' opposition, either in their websites or with independent campaign mailings, are Reps. George Eskridge of Dover and Christy Perry of Nampa; and Sens. Shawn Keough of Sandpoint, Patti Anne Lodge of Huston and Sen. Dean Cameron of Rupert.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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