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VanderSloot pledges to up his spending in support of school reform laws

Idaho Statesman reporter Dan Popkey reports today that eastern Idaho millionaire and GOP activist Frank VanderSloot is planning to sharply up his spending in support of Propositions 1, 2 and 3, the school reform referenda, now that a legal dispute over disclosure of donors is holding up a big batch of anonymously raised funds intended for the campaign. VanderSloot, CEO of Melaleuca, already has spent more than $200,000 on behalf of the "yes" campaign backing the measures, including $50,000 donated to Yes for Idaho Education, $110,000 to the Idaho Federation of Republican Women for radio ads, and $20,000 a week for the last several weeks for his own separately funded full-page ads in newspapers across the state.

VanderSloot told Popkey that campaign finance reports showing opponents of the measures have raised  $1.3 million from teachers unions - along with undisclosed internal polling showing the measures trailing - prompted him to dig deeper himself; you can read Popkey's full report here. VanderSloot also told both Popkey and the Idaho Falls Post Register that he never donated to the anonymous fund.

Meanwhile, VanderSloot also told Popkey that despite his backing of the reform plan, he's "not very enamored with Prop 3," the measure that requires the state to provide every high school student with a laptop computer and mandates a new focus on online learning. "I never have been," VanderSloot said, telling Popkey he's more concerned about the other two measures, which roll back teachers' collective bargaining rights and impose a new merit-pay bonus system. You can read Popkey's full post on that here.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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