Posts tagged: Idaho Freedom Foundation
The Idaho Freedom Foundation now has six billboards around the state attacking lawmakers who voted in favor of setting up a state-based health insurance exchange, rather than allowing the federal government to operate an exchange for Idaho. They’ve also updated the look of the first ones they posted, opting for a bright-red color scheme and photos of the legislators they’re excoriating. “We’ve improved the look, while putting them up in more places,” the foundation reported on its website. Foundation head Wayne Hoffman said there are now two signs in Idaho Falls, and one each in Rexburg, Burley, Mountain Home and Coeur d’Alene.
“They didn’t need to implement OBAMACARE,” the billboards say above the lawmakers’ names and photos, along with a statement by their photos that each one of them “voted FOR IT.” Across the bottom, the billboards say, “Repeal the State Insurance Exchange in 2014!” One pictures and targets Gov. Butch Otter, saying, “Your Governor and some state legislators implemented OBAMACARE.”
Four Kootenai County lawmakers are pictured on the billboard near Coeur d’Alene, which is along I-90 at Pleasant View in Post Falls, all Republicans: Reps. Luke Malek, Frank Henderson, Ed Morse and John Goedde. They don’t seem too upset at having their photos on billboards in their home turf. “I think the people in my district understand the issue,” Malek said. Morse said, “I represent the interests of the citizens in my district, not Wayne Hoffman.” Betsy Russell, EOB
Are billboards a good way to get your message across?
Idaho Freedom Foundation President Wayne Hoffman is a stalwart defender of the private enterprise system. Government, he says, should not pick “which companies to help and force the rest of us to pay the bill. The government should leave the marketplace alone, and let companies prosper or fail on their own merits. “Except, of course, when it comes to the Idaho Freedom Foundation. As the Spokesman-Review's Betsy Russell reported, IFF is organized under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3) - the same section utilized by charities. Anyone who contributes to a 501(c)(3) can deduct the donation from his income taxes. In exchange, a 501(c)(3) operates under restrictions. A big one in Hoffman's case involves lobbying. He's not supposed to do much of it. That's why Idaho's major lobbies settle for nonprofit status but don't offer their donors a tax deduction. Obviously, Hoffman is a lobbyist/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here.
The Boise, Idaho-based Idaho Freedom Foundation announced Tuesday the creation of ExchangeForm.com. The website is a resource for employers to notify employees of the insurance exchange, without using the federal government’s “model” notice. Employers can generate a form to give to their employees and add certain free market language to the form as well. The exchanges are one of the fallouts of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). The generic federal notice includes information about the insurance “marketplace” and other general information about insurance through the exchange, but does not have information informing employees about the ramifications and consequences of Obamacare/Idaho Freedom Foundation. More here.
Although charitable organizations are allowed to do some lobbying without risking their tax benefits, the Idaho Freedom Foundation actively pushes and opposes legislation on dozens of issues every session in ways that more closely resemble a full-on lobbying group. “If Wayne Hoffman can call a committee chairman and have a bill pulled, that’s pretty remarkable clout,” said House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston. At issue is whether taxpayers should be subsidizing its activities. As a charity organized under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3), contributions to the Idaho Freedom Foundation are tax deductible. Contributions to lobbying groups organized under section 501(c)(4), such as the Sierra Club or the National Rifle Association, are not/Betsy Russell, Eye on Boise. More here.
Question: Do you think Idaho Freedom Foundation is playing fast and loose with 501(c)(3) guidelines?
If cleverness is a disease in politics, it’s endemic with some of the folks involved in implementing Gov. Butch Otter and Barrack Obama’s health insurance exchange. Exhibit A: The insurance exchange law passed by the Legislature and signed by Otter says “the exchange shall be financially self-supporting and shall not request any financial support from the state and shall not have the power to tax or encumber state assets.” So, you might wonder, how is it that the state Department of Health and Welfare managed to give nearly $400,000 to the insurance exchange to begin operating? Well, the key word, it seems, is “request.” The exchange didn’t “request” money (at least, perhaps, through official channels)/Wayne Hoffman, Idaho Freedom Foundation. More here.
Question: Does Wayne Hoffman have a good point here?
I find Idaho columnist Chris Carlson to be a likable guy, and it’s easy to see why some of his more liberal allied-interests have been politically successful. But by golly, I have to disagree with him on some of the statements he wrote in his last column, which perpetuates some myths. Chris implies that Herbert Hoover embraced the free market at the onset of the Great Depression, leading the country deeper into economic despair and the eventual election of Franklin Roosevelt, whose Big Government plans saved the country and its economy. That’s just not so/Wayne Hoffman, Idaho Freedom Foundation. More here.
Question: Who's correct?
In the 1990s, it wasn't uncommon for lawmakers to laud the tax collectors and auditors of the Idaho State Tax Commission. It is better to deal with the State Tax Commission, legislators would say, than the federal government and its Internal Revenue Service. That has changed, even reversed. Now, lawmakers openly talk about how the state’s tax commission is worse to deal with than the IRS, that the tax commission has become increasingly aggressive in its scrutiny of Idaho taxpayers. It is a story that I hear over and over again as I travel the state, taxpayers tell me of being targeted by the tax commission, undergoing the agency's relentless nitpicking and reinterpretation of Idaho law. Sometimes it costs as much to fight an audit as the bill being proposed by the tax commission, so some choose just to pay up/Wayne Hoffman, Idaho Freedom Foundation. More here.
Question: Have you had good/bad experiences with Idaho Tax Commission collectors/auditors?
Philip Allaire had a really great idea. Using his skills as a businessman, Allaire posed a plan to help the Nampa School District escape from a $5 million deficit. He created a nonprofit, Enriching Endowments, proposed selling raffle tickets for homes he purchased and would use the proceeds to pay down the school district's accounting mess. The Idaho Press-Tribune opined on Friday that Allaire's proposal was not grounded in reality, magnanimous but not fully vetted, because the proposal got sideways with Idaho state lottery officials who say the plan violated state regulations. Because the state lottery objected, Allaire gave up on his proposal. “The irony of the situation is that the same form of bureaucracy and incompetence of government that created the financial crisis we currently face is now preventing a common sense and cost effective solution,” he wrote in a press release. “Had it not been for the obstinate attitude and positions of the Idaho lottery, the generosity of the community would have provided a solution to the financial troubles that have threatened the future of Nampa’s students.” He's absolutely right/Wayne Hoffman, Idaho Freedom Foundation. More to come.
Question: I agree with Wayne again. What do you think?
Shoshone County taxpayers reached a notable conclusion in the May 21 election: More government won't mean more economic opportunity and prosperity. I suspect that advocates of urban renewal will try again. I'm more hopeful that advocates of urban renewal in other parts of the state, including those in Nampa, will take note: If your project is so wonderful, you ought to have no trouble presenting it to voters. Voters in Shoshone County rejected the creation of a new urban renewal agency by a 3-1 margin. The electorate simply didn't buy the sales pitch about the urban renewal agency and its related promise of “jobs, jobs, jobs”/Wayne Hoffman, Idaho Freedom Foundation. More here.
When a cop stops an ordinary person for speeding, here's what happens: Perhaps the driver asks for a warning. He might contest the ticket in court. Or he pays up. But Wayne Hoffman is no ordinary person. As executive director of the libertarian-leaning Idaho Freedom Foundation, Hoffman bestrides an organization with an ample but mysterious source of cash that at times has proven to be among the most influential legislative lobbies in Idaho. His Idaho Freedom Index rates lawmakers from high to low on their conservative credentials. The rating can help or break Republicans running in a low-turnout, closed GOP primary. Hoffman also supervises IdahoReporter.com, an online news service that some criticize as serving IFF's political agenda. And his own weekly column gets picked up by a handful of Idaho newspapers. That's a considerable political arsenal in the hands of a man who sounds like he may use it. Why? Because Hoffman got a speeding ticket and he's not happy about it.
Question: What do you make of Hoffman continuing to fight a speeding ticket for going 71 in a 55 in Kootenai County?
As Idahoans engage in a statewide conversation about K-12 public school improvement, I want to add another discussion point to the mix: The state should reexamine its participation in national education standards known as Common Core. I say this despite my deep respect and friendship for Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna, a supporter of Common Core. Tom says there is a lot of misinformation out there about Common Core, propelling some of the opposition. But Lindsey Burke, the Heritage Foundation's education policy expert, told a panel Friday in Orlando that Common Core will lead to less education choice and competition, and is, ultimately, a push for federal control of all education—public and private/Wayne Hoffman, Idaho Freedom Foundation. More here.
Question: Are you surprised that Wayne Hoffman/Idaho Freedom Foundation opposes Common Core?
Much hay has been made by the liberal media, particularly by Idaho Statesman reporter/columnist Dan Popkey, over Nampa Rep. Brent Crane’s reference to Rosa Parks in his debate on the health insurance exchange. In case you missed it, Crane said Parks was “one little lady (who) got tired of the federal government telling her what to do.” Parks, of course, wasn’t the victim of federal policies, but rather the city of Montgomery, Ala., which had an ordinance requiring her to give up her seat on the bus to white riders. … Crane’s assessment, however, is an accurate portrayal of what the freedom movement is all about, even if he used one (and only one) word incorrectly: Almost every time individuals have fought for freedom, they’ve had to combat the government or powers that be. That means it is a national government, or a local or state government, a king or a city council/Idaho Freedom Foundation. More here.
Question: Do you agree with the Idaho Freedom Foundation that Crane would have been correct about Rosa Parks' attitude toward government if she'd dropped the word “federal”?
I have read just about every school labor union agreement in the state and have yet to find a single one that was written to protect the interests of children, their safety and the availability of classroom supplies. I point this out simply because the labor unions have released a new ad in opposition to Proposition 1. The unions are asking you to vote no using a sanctimoniously deceptive rationale for why they believe the law to be bad public policy. “Prop 1 prohibits teachers from negotiating over important things like overcrowded classrooms, supplies and student safety,” says the newest ad from the Vote No crowd. From this, you should draw upon imagery of teachers in chainmail plunging their swords through the leathery chests of those uncaring, fiendish school board members and smiting the villainy from their evil beating hearts, all for the betterment of students. Great scenes for a movie script, I should think. But Prop 1 isn’t about teachers fighting for students. Prop 1 is about union bosses fighting for unions. Prop 1 is about union power, nothing more/Wayne Hoffman, Idaho Freedom Foundation. More here.
Question: Is it good practice for Republicans to attack the teachers union?
The failed multimillion dollar campaign to boot Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker from office is on its way to Idaho. We don’t know what form it will take, but you can imagine that some of the messages tried in Wisconsin will also be attempted here, all in an effort to return Idaho’s education system to a status quo that empowers labor unions and puts their interests ahead of schoolchildren. The labor unions don’t like that Idaho’s education reforms are allowing excellent teachers to be recognized and rewarded for their great work, are creating heightened transparency in the union negotiation process, have restored the power of elected school boards and now provide a means for school districts and their students to take advantage of technological innovation/Wayne Hoffman, Idaho Freedom Foundation. More here.
Question: Is Hoffman and other Hard Right Republicans producing a straw man by trying to tie attempts to overthrown Superintendent Tom Luna's education reforms to the Wisconsin recall vote?
Briana LeClaire was a founding director of the board of the Idaho Freedom Foundation when it opened in 2009 as a free-market lobbying and policy shop. After a year, LeClaire left the board and for two years has been the education policy analyst for the group that advocates school choice, including private school vouchers and home, virtual and charter schools. IFF backed Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna’s “Students Come First” laws, which are subject to repeal by voters in November. IFF Executive Director Wayne Hoffman said he fired LeClaire Tuesday. “I really don’t feel it is appropriate to discuss employee matters in the press,” Hoffman said. “I will tell you that I have a duty to our donors and my board. I try to honor that duty and our donors' generosity through responsible and thoughtful management of Idaho Freedom Foundation. That means making tough decisions”/Dan Popkey, Idaho Statesman. More here.
Question: Dustin Hurst left for a job in Helena, Mont., recently and now Wayne Hoffman has fired Briana LeClaire. What's up with Idaho Freedom Foundation?
CHEERS … to state Rep. Shirley Ringo (pictured), D-Moscow. She not only flunked the Idaho Freedom Foundation's “legislative freedom index,” but Ringo got the lowest score of any of Idaho's 105 lawmakers - a negative-125. Most of north central Idaho's lawmakers didn't fare much better. For example, Rep. John Rusche, D-Lewiston, got a minus-111. The region's highest score came from Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, who got a 46. The Freedom Foundation advocates constant legal warfare with the national government, undermining public services and making certain tax laws coddle the comfortable. Topping its scorecard were the ethically challenged Sen. Monty Pearce, R- New Plymouth, who got a plus-65, and Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d'Alene, who got an absolutely stratospheric 117. That's no agenda for ordinary Idahoans/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. Marty's weekly Cheers & Jeers column here.
Question: Would you rather have your legislator ace the Idaho Freedom Foundation “legislative freedom index” or flunk it?
And that makes the 2012 Senate’s session-ending ethics rule change that much more puzzling and worrisome. The Senate passed a rule that says ethics complaints are to be confidential until such time that the bipartisan ethics panel finds probable cause to move forward with a full-blown investigation of a complaint. Under the new rule, a complaint can be brought in secret, reviewed in secret and dismissed with the permanent promise of secrecy, so long as the Senate Ethics Committee lacks a majority vote finding that probable cause exists of an ethics violation. Indeed, under the new rule, it is a violation of the Senate’s ethics rules to disclose anything about the workings of a confidential Senate ethics matter—the senator involved, the nature of the complaint or the reasoning for a dismissal. Senate Democrats, who voted against the rule change, called it a “gag order.” They’re right about that/Wayne Hoffman (pictured), Idaho Freedom Foundation. More here.
Question: It's been awhile since I've said this. But I agree with Wayne on the Idaho Senate's ethics “gag order.” How about you?
In the final few days of this legislative session, as capitol reporters were scurrying to wrap up stories on the big budget items regarding teacher pay, tax cuts and restoring the state’s “rainy day” fund, they unexpectedly found themselves grappling with a far more personal issue: namely, should they vote in our May primary. The issue was instigated by the belief that Wayne Hoffman of the Idaho Freedom (how ironic is this?) Foundation was about to use the Republican Party’s new closed primary arrangement as a means of discovering — and then proclaiming to all who care — the bias of the media. The closed primary shindig inflicted upon us requires us to either register as a Republican to vote in the Republican primary or to request a Democratic ballot. That choice immediately becomes a public record — able to be discovered by all and then communicated to everyone/Publisher John Pfeifer, Twin Falls Times-News. More here. (Ag Weekly photo: Dan Pfeifer)
Question: Publisher John Pfeifer goes on to say that he will encourage his political and government reporters to exercise their right to vote — and damn the critics who'll take note of which ballot they select. Do you agree with his approach?
A reporter from the New York Times recently asked me about a piece of Nanny Government legislation and, with childlike innocence, conveyed his belief in fairy tales that might include fields of frolicking unicorns, pots of gold at the end of rainbows and the “the conservative Idaho Legislature.” The reporter asked me to predict the fate of a bill to ban minors from using tanning beds—a bill that we very much opposed. “But that bill doesn’t stand a chance, right?” posed the reporter. “After all, Idaho’s Legislature is the most conservative in the nation.” “What makes you think it’s the most conservative in the nation?” I asked.“Well, it’s the most Republican,” the reporter replied.“What makes you think it’s the most conservative?” I prodded. Of course, you can’t blame the reporter in this case. Many in the state, too, have heard the Myth of the Conservative Idaho Legislature. We almost believe it is true/Wayne Hoffman, Idaho Freedom Foundation. More here.
Question: If the Idaho Legislature isn't conservative, what the heck is it?
Wayne Hoffman, the head of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, says his group has never planned to research track whether — or how — reporters vote in the May 15 party primaries. On Wednesday, Hoffman took issue with an Idaho Press Club newsletter column written by Betsy Russell of the Spokane Spokesman-Review — and my subsequent Saturday column — which said that Hoffman had hinted at looking at reporters' votes. Hoffman said he has said the voting information could be valuable “from a news organization transparency standpoint,” and could have informational value to readers. But he said his conservative but nonpartisan lobbying group has never planned to look for the data. “We don't do primary election stuff,” Hoffman said in a voicemail/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here.