Beware the last-minute campaign message – that’s the lesson out of Kootenai County today, as Jeff Ward, head of the Kootenai County Reagan Republicans, is calling for a criminal investigation into a group with a name very close to that of his group, which sent out a last-minute endorsement mailing with all the same graphics he used in a similar one in 2012, but backing candidates his group opposes. Among the candidates the new mailing endorses: One who’s running against Ward himself, in a three-way race for the legislative seat now held by retiring Rep. Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls.
The new group also calls itself “Kootenai County Reagan Republicans,” along with “Idaho Reagan Republicans, PAC,” and is the same group that’s quarreled with Ward’s group over the past two years over the use of the “Kootenai County Reagan Republicans” name, even, at one point, filing state business papers to use the name. Jeff Alltus, vice president of the new group, said, “Our idea is just you can only besmirch the name of Ronald Reagan enough. … The Reagan Republicans, the old ones, they just sold out.” He said his group decided several years ago to “just take it all over.”
However, from the perspective of the Idaho Secretary of State’s office, the new PAC appears to have properly filed its initial papers over the weekend, and if it discloses its donors and spending today, it likely will have complied with state disclosure rules. “We don’t regulate content,” said chief Deputy Secretary of State Tim Hurst. “All Idaho’s Sunshine Law requires is disclosure.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com, and see the two mailings – the 2012 Kootenai County Reagan Republicans endorsement mailing, and the new one that Ward calls “fraudulent” – online here.