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Eye on Boise: Idaho backs Montana’s campaign spending fight

Sun., May 27, 2012

BOISE – Idaho is one of 22 states that filed a brief in support of Montana’s fight in the U.S. Supreme Court to prevent the 2010 Citizens United decision from being used to strike down state laws restricting corporate campaign spending – even though Idaho has no such laws.

Idaho allows direct corporate giving to campaigns and unlimited corporate independent expenditures in campaigns. “But we do have requirements for reporting,” said Deputy Attorney General Brian Kane.

Plus, Idaho places limits on direct corporate contributions to candidates that are the same as its limits for individual contributions – $1,000 per election cycle for legislative candidates, which means $1,000 for the primary and $1,000 for the general, and $5,000 per election cycle for statewide offices. Several years ago Idaho beefed up its reporting laws to prevent corporations from evading the limits by giving the limit from each of numerous sub-entities.

“At the heart of Montana’s case is their state regulation of campaign finance,” Kane said. “What we want to do is ensure that Idaho’s regime of campaign finance laws is protected. There’s a state sovereignty issue involved in our signing on.”

Crash, theft, recovery open women’s bike race

International women’s cycling returned to Boise this week after a 10-year hiatus with the Exergy Tour, featuring more than 100 elite women racers from 18 nations, many of whom are competing for slots on their home countries’ Olympic teams.

They included Boise cyclist and 2008 Olympic time trials gold medalist Kristin Armstrong, but Armstrong crashed in the first day of racing Thursday and broke her collarbone. She’s out for the tour but still hopes to qualify for the Olympics.

Amazingly, Armstrong got back on her bike after her crash and finished the course, coming in 13th, showing she had been on pace to have won with a blisteringly fast time.

Instead, the first day’s winner was Canadian Tara Whitten, one of a team of riders whose welcome to Boise was an unpleasant one – their racing bikes and equipment, valued at $120,000, were stolen overnight from a locked trailer outside their hotel a day before the race. However, Boise police recovered all the bikes unscathed, in three locations on the Boise State University campus, in time for the racers to use them Thursday.

The event continued with road races around southwestern Idaho and will conclude Monday in Boise.

Human rights film honored by ABA

An Idaho Public Television documentary, “The Color of Conscience: Human Rights in Idaho,” won the Silver Gavel Award for television from the American Bar Association. The hourlong special examines the development of the human rights movement in Idaho, including the small group of concerned citizens who stood up to the Aryan Nations, ultimately bankrupting the neo-Nazi supremacist group in North Idaho.

The program also examines other current human rights issues in the state, from gay rights to immigrants to hate crimes. Marcia Franklin is the producer, writer and host, and Jay Krajic is the videographer/editor. The national award was just the latest honor for the program, which also won a regional Edward R. Murrow Award and a Cine Golden Eagle Award, among others. You can see the show online at

Judge orders mediation

U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge has ordered mediation between the press and the state Corrections Department, after more than a dozen news outlets and journalism groups, led by the Associated Press and including The Spokesman-Review, sued over the department’s execution procedures. Those procedures block media witnesses from seeing the first half of the execution process, including when IV lines are inserted to deliver the lethal drugs. The press groups maintain the limits violate the First Amendment, as outlined in a specific 9th Circuit Court decision issued in 2002.

U.S. District Court Magistrate Candy Dale will oversee the mediation. If it doesn’t reach a solution, Lodge will decide the case before Idaho’s next scheduled execution June 12.

Luna named to Romney group

Idaho state Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna was named to a 19-member education policy advisory group by GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Luna is the only state school superintendent named to the group. Other members all work for private education companies, think tanks, universities or the federal government.

Luna, in a news release from the Idaho Republican Party, said: “I am excited to work with Gov. Romney to improve education across the country. As governor, he showed how states can truly put students first and raise academic achievement for all children. We have worked toward the same goals in Idaho, passing the most comprehensive education reform in the country to ensure every student can graduate from high school and go on to postsecondary education without the need for remediation. Now, we must make (sure) this is possible for every child in every state.”

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