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WALeg Day 9: Ivory sales, campaign “dark money” and ag-gags

OLYMPIA — Busy day in the Capitol with hearings on bills that would prohibit the sales of ivory and rhinoceros horns, require better disclosure of "dark money" in political campaigns and establish an "ag gag", or make it a crime to film certain farming operations without permission.

HB 1131 would make it a felony to sell, trade or traffic in ivory or rhino horns, except under limited circumstances licensed by the state.

Sen. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, has rounded up a broad spectrum of support to require certain non-profits that set up "incidental committees" to make political donations to file regular  reports who gives the money and where it goes.

Rep. Joe Schmick, R-Colfax, has a bill that would make it a gross misdemeanor to "interfere with agricultural production" which would include entering a farm, ranch or slaughter house without permission, recording the operations and harming that business.The United States Humane Society refers to such laws as "ag gags" designed to keep activists from revealing animal cruelty in the businesses.

A new medical marijuana proposal will be unveiled at lunchtime, Gov. Jay Inslee's tax plans will get a look from the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

And thousands of anti-abortion demonstrators are expected for the annual March for Life, often one the biggest rallies of the session. In advance of the march, Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley, introduced a bill to require parental notification before any minor can have an abortion.

Here's the full list of committee hearings, as of late Monday afternoon:

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Time

Committee

Location

 

8:00 AM

Agriculture, Water & Rural Economic Development (S)

Senate Hearing Rm 3

 
 

Law & Justice (S)

Senate Hearing Rm 4

 
 

Business & Financial Services (H)

House Hearing Rm B

 
 

Early Learning & Human Services (H)

House Hearing Rm E

 
 

Health Care & Wellness (H)

House Hearing Rm A

 
 

Higher Education (H)

House Hearing Rm C

 
 

Public Safety (H)

House Hearing Rm D

 

9:55 AM

PRO FORMA HOUSE SESSION

   

10:00 AM

Government Operations & State Security (S)

Senate Hearing Rm 2

 
 

Health Care (S)

Senate Hearing Rm 4

 
 

Human Services, Mental Health & Housing (S)

Senate Hearing Rm 1

 
 

Agriculture & Natural Resources (H)

House Hearing Rm B

 
 

Judiciary (H)

House Hearing Rm A

 
 

Local Government (H)

House Hearing Rm D

 
 

State Government (H)

House Hearing Rm E

 
 

Technology & Economic Development (H)

House Hearing Rm C

 

12:00 PM

PRO FORMA SENATE SESSION

   

1:30 PM

Early Learning & K-12 Education (S)

Senate Hearing Rm 1

 
 

Energy, Environment & Telecommunications (S)

Senate Hearing Rm 4

 
 

Higher Education (S)

Senate Hearing Rm 3

 
 

Community Development, Housing & Tribal Affairs (H)

House Hearing Rm E

 
 

Commerce & Gaming (H)

House Hearing Rm C

 
 

Education (H)

House Hearing Rm A

 
 

Environment (H)

House Hearing Rm D

 
 

Labor (H)

House Hearing Rm B

 

3:30 PM

Transportation (S)

Senate Hearing Rm 1

 
 

Ways & Means (S)

Senate Hearing Rm 4

 
 

Capital Budget (H)

House Hearing Rm B

 
 

Finance (H)

House Hearing Rm A

 
 

Gen Govt & Info Tech (H)

House Hearing Rm C

 


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House Committees


Agriculture & Natural Resources
1/20/15 10:00 am

House Full Committee
House Hearing Rm B
John L. O'Brien Building
Olympia, WA

Public Hearing:

  1. HB 1119 - Making changes to Title 77 RCW that gives tools to the department of fish and wildlife to ensure hunter safety by focusing on the actual person hunting and not the sporting equipment used by the hunter including, but not limited to, establishing the age of fourteen as the minimum age to participate in unaccompanied hunting.
  2. HB 1118 - Creating cost savings by providing administrative flexibility to the department of fish and wildlife in its implementation of Title 77 RCW while not directing any changes to resource management outcomes.
  3. HB 1131 - Concerning ivory and rhinoceros horn trafficking.

 

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Business & Financial Services*
1/20/15 8:00 am

House Full Committee
House Hearing Rm B
John L. O'Brien Building
Olympia, WA

REVISED 1/16/2015 1:07 PM

Public Hearing:

  1. HB 1171 - Concerning expiration dates related to real estate broker provisions.
  2. HB 1196 - Concerning requirements for real estate appraisers.
  3. HB 1304 - Allowing a public depository to arrange for reciprocal deposits of public funds.


Possible Executive Session:

  1. HB 1063 - Concerning cosmetology, hair design, barbering, esthetics, and manicuring.
  2. HB 1064 - Concerning regulation of locksmith services.
  3. HB 1076 - Modernizing life insurance reserve requirements.
  4. HB 1043 - Concerning self-service storage facilities.
  5. HB 1054 - Concerning collection agency transaction fees for processing electronic payments.

 

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Capital Budget*
1/20/15 3:30 pm

House Full Committee
House Hearing Rm B
John L. O'Brien Building
Olympia, WA

REVISED 1/16/2015 2:38 PM

Work Session: Presentation by the Office of Financial Management on Governor Inslee's Proposed 2015-17 Capital Budget and 2015 Supplemental Capital Budget.

Public Hearing:

  1. HB 1115 - Concerning the capital budget.
  2. HB 1116 - Concerning the supplemental capital budget.
  3. HB 1166 - Concerning state general obligation bonds and related accounts.

 

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Commerce & Gaming*
1/20/15 1:30 pm

Watch on TVWHouse Full Committee
House Hearing Rm C
John L. O'Brien Building
Olympia, WA

REVISED 1/16/2015 9:48 AM

Public Hearing:

  1. HB 1108 - Creating a food truck beer and/or wine license.
  2. HB 1124 - Permitting the sampling of beer and wine at locations licensed to serve beer and wine for on-premises consumption.
  3. HB 1198 - Concerning the sale of beer and cider by grocery store licensees.
  4. HB 1290 - Increasing the number of tasting rooms allowed under a domestic winery license.
  5. HB 1296 - Establishing special license endorsements for cigar lounges and retail tobacconist shops.

 

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Community Development, Housing & Tribal Affairs
1/20/15 1:30 pm

House Full Committee
House Hearing Rm E
John L. O'Brien Building
Olympia, WA

Work Session:

  1. Current Tribal-State Tax Issues.
  2. Tribal Healthcare.


Public Hearing:

  1. HB 1019 - Removing the requirement that housing organizations apply to the Washington state quality award program.
  2. HB 1107 - Concerning access to and creation of cultural and heritage programs and facilities.

 

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Early Learning & Human Services
1/20/15 8:00 am

House Full Committee
House Hearing Rm E
John L. O'Brien Building
Olympia, WA

Work Session:

  1. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Interagency Work Group report update.
  2. Overview of the Parent-Child Assistance Program.
  3. Update from the Governor's Disability Employment Task Force.

 

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Education
1/20/15 1:30 pm

House Full Committee
House Hearing Rm A
John L. O'Brien Building
Olympia, WA

Work Session: Overview of Assessments and Common Core.

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Environment*
1/20/15 1:30 pm

House Full Committee
House Hearing Rm D
John L. O'Brien Building
Olympia, WA

REVISED 1/16/2015 2:50 PM

Public Hearing:

  1. HB 1130 - Concerning water power license fees.
  2. HB 1160 - Stamping out litter in Washington state by increasing penalties for littering while providing additional funding to state parks.


Executive Session: HB 1060 - Directing state investments of existing litter tax revenues under chapter 82.19 RCW in material waste management efforts without increasing the tax rate.

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Finance*
1/20/15 3:30 pm

House Full Committee
House Hearing Rm A
John L. O'Brien Building
Olympia, WA

REVISED 1/16/2015 11:25 AM

Work Session:

  1. 2014 tax preference performance reviews.
  2. Revenue-related components of Governor Inslee's proposed operating budget.

 

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Gen Govt & Info Tech
1/20/15 3:30 pm

House Full Committee
House Hearing Rm C
John L. O'Brien Building
Olympia, WA

Public Hearing: HB 1055 - Making conforming amendments made necessary by reorganizing and streamlining central service functions, powers, and duties of state government.

Work Session:

  1. Update on Information Technology Issues.
  2. Overview of Governor Inslee's proposal to align central information technology services in a single new agency.

 

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Health Care & Wellness
1/20/15 8:00 am

House Full Committee
House Hearing Rm A
John L. O'Brien Building
Olympia, WA

Work Session:

  1. Community health workers and paramedicine issues.
  2. Report on the Adult Behavioral Health System Task Force.
  3. Report on the Joint Legislative Executive Committee on Aging & Disability Issues.

 

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Higher Education
1/20/15 8:00 am

House Full Committee
House Hearing Rm C
John L. O'Brien Building
Olympia, WA

Work Session: Degrees and Credentials that Lead to Good Jobs.

  1. Part I - Computer Science.
  2. Part II - Maritime Industry.

 

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Judiciary*
1/20/15 10:00 am

House Full Committee
House Hearing Rm A
John L. O'Brien Building
Olympia, WA

REVISED 1/16/2015 3:08 PM

Public Hearing:

  1. HB 1028 - Requiring cities and counties to provide security for their courts.
  2. HB 1090 - Concerning the financial fraud and identity theft crimes investigation and prosecution program.
  3. HB 1099 - Providing consumers the option to cancel contracts over the internet when entered into by the same means.
  4. HB 1120 - Providing immunity for school bus drivers.
  5. HB 1258 - Concerning court review of detention decisions under the involuntary treatment act.

 

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Labor*
1/20/15 1:30 pm

House Full Committee
House Hearing Rm B
John L. O'Brien Building
Olympia, WA

REVISED 1/16/2015 8:04 AM

Public Hearing:

  1. HB 1072 - Requiring tracking of prevailing wage surveys.
  2. HB 1074 - Ensuring the accuracy of prevailing wage survey data provided by interested parties.
  3. HB 1075 - Creating an exemption from the intents and affidavits requirements when paying prevailing wages.
  4. HB 1231 - Establishing the prevailing rate of wage based on collective bargaining agreements or other methods if collective bargaining agreements are not available.
  5. HB 1254 - Creating a pilot project to determine the prevailing wage of certain trades.

 

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Local Government*
1/20/15 10:00 am

House Full Committee
House Hearing Rm D
John L. O'Brien Building
Olympia, WA

REVISED 1/15/2015 10:08 AM

Public Hearing:

  1. HB 1153 - Concerning lumber grading.
  2. HB 1189 - Regarding hours of availability of cities, towns, and special purpose districts for inspection and copying of public records.
  3. HB 1197 - Concerning water-sewer districts.


Possible Executive Session: HB 1088 - Modifying per diem compensation for flood control zone district supervisors.

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Public Safety*
1/20/15 8:00 am

Watch on TVWHouse Full Committee
House Hearing Rm D
John L. O'Brien Building
Olympia, WA

REVISED 1/16/2015 4:28 PM

Public Hearing:

  1. HB 1059 - Concerning sexually violent predators.
  2. HB 1104 - Creating the crime of interference with agricultural production.


Executive Session:

  1. HB 1047 - Concerning state agencies continuity of operations planning requirements.
  2. HB 1069 - Concerning preservation of DNA work product.

 

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State Government*
1/20/15 10:00 am

House Full Committee
House Hearing Rm E
John L. O'Brien Building
Olympia, WA

REVISED 1/16/2015 8:34 AM

Public Hearing:

  1. HB 1056 - Restricting the use of certain parcels of public land to access a public body of water.
  2. HB 1085 - Requiring lobbying reports to be filed electronically.
  3. HB 1086 - Establishing a cost recovery mechanism for public records sought for commercial purposes.
  4. HB 1089 - Adding adherence to state wage payment laws to the state's responsible bidder criteria.
  5. HB 1117 - Modifying the veterans' scoring criteria in competitive examinations.

 

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Technology & Economic Development
1/20/15 10:00 am

House Full Committee
House Hearing Rm C
John L. O'Brien Building
Olympia, WA

Public Hearing:

  1. HB 1095 - Promoting thermal energy efficiency.
  2. HB 1100 - Creating new appliance efficiency standards.
  3. HB 1098 - Aligning electric utility regulation and business models with emerging customer values not realized in volumetric monetization.

 

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Senate Committees

The schedule is subject to the addition of more committee agendas. Please check our website, http://www.leg.wa.gov/legislature/pages/calendar.aspx


Agriculture, Water & Rural Economic Development*
1/20/15 8:00 am

Senate Full Committee
Senate Hearing Rm 3
J.A. Cherberg Building
Olympia, WA

REVISED 1/19/2015 8:40 AM

Work Session: Status of farm worker training in Washington.

Public Hearing:

  1. SB 5019 - Creating the agricultural labor skills and safety program.
  2. SB 5018 - Concerning underground artificial storage and recovery projects.
  3. SB 5061 - Limiting the authority of growth management hearings boards to hear petitions challenging the regulation of permit exempt wells.


Executive Session:

  1. SB 5015 - Extending the dairy inspection program assessment expiration date.
  2. SB 5017 - Defining honey bee products and services as an agricultural product.


Possible executive session on bills heard in committee. Other business.

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Early Learning & K-12 Education*
1/20/15 1:30 pm

Senate Full Committee
Senate Hearing Rm 1
J.A. Cherberg Building
Olympia, WA

REVISED 1/15/2015 4:57 PM

Public Hearing:

  1. SB 5065 - Improving educational outcomes for homeless students through increased in-school guidance supports, housing stability, and identification services.
  2. SB 5202 - Regarding the financial education public-private partnership.
  3. SB 5229 - Addressing technology literacy.


Possible executive session on bills heard in committee. Possible other business.

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Energy, Environment & Telecommunications
1/20/15 1:30 pm

Senate Full Committee
Senate Hearing Rm 4
J.A. Cherberg Building
Olympia, WA

Work Session: Model Toxics Control Act budget.

Possible executive session on bills heard in committee. Other business

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Government Operations & State Security
1/20/15 10:00 am

Watch on TVWSenate Full Committee
Senate Hearing Rm 2
J.A. Cherberg Building
Olympia, WA

Work Session: Port security and port competitiveness.

Public Hearing:

  1. SB 5127 - Providing that veterans with total disability ratings and their surviving spouses and domestic partners are eligible to qualify for a property tax exemption without meeting certain income requirements.
  2. SB 5138 - Concerning notice and review processes for annexations, deannexations, incorporations, disincorporations, consolidations, and boundary line adjustments under Titles 35 and 35A RCW.
  3. SB 5153 - Increasing transparency of campaign contributions.
  4. SB 5176 - Concerning the capitol furnishings preservation committee.


Possible executive session on bills heard in committee. Other business.

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Health Care
1/20/15 10:00 am

Senate Full Committee
Senate Hearing Rm 4
J.A. Cherberg Building
Olympia, WA

Work Session:

  1. Office of the Insurance Commissioner: Agency and budget overview.
  2. Health Benefit Exchange: Agency and budget overview.


Other business.

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Higher Education
1/20/15 1:30 pm

Senate Full Committee
Senate Hearing Rm 3
J.A. Cherberg Building
Olympia, WA

Work Session:

  1. Washington Student Achievement Council's Strategic Action Plan.
  2. 2014 State Need Grant Legislative Report.
  3. Audit of the University of Washington Higher Education Dedicated Local Funds & Operating Fee Accounts.
  4. Overview of the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board and update on Everest College.


Other business.

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Human Services, Mental Health & Housing*
1/20/15 10:00 am

Senate Full Committee
Senate Hearing Rm 1
J.A. Cherberg Building
Olympia, WA

REVISED 1/15/2015 5:11 PM

Public Hearing:

  1. SB 5079 - Requiring the department of social and health services to notify the military regarding child abuse and neglect allegations of families with an active military status.
  2. SB 5164 - Concerning transient lodging for military service members in armories.
  3. SB 5177 - Improving timeliness of competency evaluation and restoration services.
  4. SB 5178 - Concerning the criminal justice treatment account.
  5. SB 5208 - Allowing the use of lodging taxes for financing workforce housing.


Possible executive session on bills heard in committee. Other business.

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Law & Justice*
1/20/15 8:00 am

Senate Full Committee
Senate Hearing Rm 4
J.A. Cherberg Building
Olympia, WA

REVISED 1/15/2015 10:06 AM

Public Hearing:

  1. SB 5059 - Creating the patent troll prevention act.
  2. SB 5066 - Concerning the collection of blood samples for forensic testing.
  3. SB 5067 - Addressing informant and accomplice evidence and testimony.
  4. SB 5069 - Making the unlawful possession of instruments of financial fraud a crime.
  5. SB 5031 - Permitting advance action regarding business opportunities under the business corporation act.
  6. SB 5174 - Increasing the number of district court judges in Skagit county.
  7. SB 5194 - Concerning wage garnishment.


Possible executive session on bills heard in committee. Other business.

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Transportation
1/20/15 3:30 pm

Senate Full Committee
Senate Hearing Rm 1
J.A. Cherberg Building
Olympia, WA

Work Session:

  1. Local transportation programs - agency introductions:
    1. Transportation Improvement Board.
    2. County Road Administration Board.
    3. Freight Mobility Strategic Investment Board.
    4. Washington State Department of Transportation Highways & Local Programs.
    5. Metropolitan and Regional Transportation Planning Organizations.
  2. Introduction to city and county transportation issues.


Other business.

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Ways & Means
1/20/15 3:30 pm

Watch on TVWSenate Full Committee
Senate Hearing Rm 4
J.A. Cherberg Building
Olympia, WA

Public Hearing:

  1. Governor's revenue proposals.
  2. 2014 tax preference performance reviews.


Possible executive session on bills heard in committee. Other business.

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Boyle on IEN: ‘Crony capitalism, corruption, special favors’

Idaho Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, last week sent a guest editorial out to Idaho newspapers that's sharply critical of the Otter Administration's handling of the now-voided $60 million contract for the Idaho Education Network high school broadband project. "Why did this occur? It is an example of crony capitalism, corruption, special favors for campaign donors, the Governor’s staff moving to lobby and/or work for the very businesses receiving the contracts or from those companies to the Governor’s staff," she writes. "It is back-slapping, good old boy networks, winks and nods, cover ups, denying involvement, blaming others, attacking those asking questions or with the courage to say the Emperor has NO clothes." Click below for her full article.

State asks judge to reconsider ruling voiding $60 million IEN contract

The Otter Administration is asking an Ada County judge to reconsider his ruling that the $60 million Idaho Education Network broadband contract was issued illegally and is void, reports Kevin Richert of Idaho Education News. Richert reports that the private attorneys for the state filed a 12-page motion Tuesday asking 4th District Judge Patrick Owen to either clarify or reconsider his decision; you can read his full report here.

The legal problems have thrown into limbo a broadband network that serves 219 high schools across Idaho, and already have cost the state millions. The judge ruled that then-state Department of Administration Director Mike Gwartney illegally cut Syringa Networks out of the contract in 2009 in favor of Qwest, now CenturyLink, and Education Networks of America, both of which are big donors to Idaho Gov. Butch Otter’s campaigns.

Idaho officials scramble to keep broadband to schools after court voids IEN contract as illegal

State officials and legislative leaders are scrambling to find a way to keep the statewide broadband network that serves Idaho high schools running, after a judge tossed out the five-year-old $60 million contract for the service on Monday. The head of Syringa Networks, the company that sued and won, is calling for a re-bid of the contract, and House Speaker Scott Bedke says that's likely where the state is headed. But in the meantime, he said emergency or bridge efforts are called for so school kids taking distance courses on the network don't get interrupted mid-term.

“This is about the kids’ education,” Bedke said Wednesday. “The judge has pointed out some problems, obviously. But we’re in the middle of a school year.” Officials from the state Department of Administration, the Legislature, the governor’s office and more were meeting or holding conversations about the issue on Wednesday. “We’re working on a path to ensure that this distance learning continues around the state,” Bedke said. Jon Hanian, spokesman for Gov. Butch Otter, said, “They’re still evaluating the decision and then determining the path forward.”

The network didn’t go down today, Department of Administration spokeswoman Jennifer Pike confirmed, even though a 4th District judge ruled that the contract between the state and Education Networks of America and Qwest, now known as CenturyLink, to provide the service was issued illegally. Judge Patrick Owen declared the contract void. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

Qwest gave $35,000 to Otter campaigns since ‘06, Syringa donated to 2 of his rivals

Yesterday, I noted that Education Networks of America, the company that got the now-voided Idaho Education Network contract along with Qwest, has donated $18,250 to Gov. Butch Otter’s campaign, including $5,000 in September; and also has given $6,000 to state schools Superintendent Tom Luna’s campaign since 2009.

But it’s not the only player in the IEN deal that is a big campaign contributor. Qwest, now known as CenturyLink, is a prodigious contributor to Idaho political campaigns that has given even more to Otter. Since 2006, through its political action committee, formerly Qwest Idaho PAC and now CenturyLink Idaho PAC, it gave Otter’s campaigns a whopping $35,000.

Qwest also has given $3,500 to Luna’s campaign since 2011. And it’s donated to an array of other candidates from both parties, according to state campaign finance records.

Syringa Networks, the company that won the lawsuit over the contract, has, like Qwest/CenturyLink, donated to an array of candidates from both parties, though not near as many. Syringa gave $2,000 to Otter’s campaign in 2008. But in 2010, it donated $5,000 to the campaign of Keith Allred, Otter’s Democratic opponent that year. And in April of this year, it donated $5,000 to the campaign of Sen. Russ Fulcher, who ran against Otter in the GOP primary.

Syringa CEO calls for state to re-bid voided contract for Idaho Education Network

Syringa Networks, the company that won the lawsuit this week that threw out the $60 million state contract for the Idaho Education Network, is calling for the state to re-bid the deal, Idaho Education News reports today. EdNews reporter Kevin Richert reported that Syringa CEO Greg Lowe issued this statement:

“The District Court concluded that the procurement was ‘fatally flawed.’ The court’s decision speaks volumes with the undisputed facts and history of the case in reaching its conclusion. While Syringa Networks is supportive of the IEN, it pursued this action to prevent vendors such as ENA and Century Link from improperly benefiting from an unfair procurement process at the expense of Idaho’s taxpayers. We are pleased that the District Court agreed with our position by voiding the IEN contracts. With the District Court’s recent opinion, Syringa Networks remains hopeful that the Department of Administration will recognize that this litigation, funded by taxpayer dollars, was a wasteful attempt to ‘fix what cannot be fixed,’ and move forward to rebidding the IEN procurement.”

Court ruling, illegal contract threaten one of Gov. Otter’s proudest achievements

Here’s a link to my full story at spokesman.com on the ruling in the Syringa Networks lawsuit, in which the $60 million contract for a statewide school broadband network – one of Idaho Gov. Butch Otter’s proudest achievements – was voided after a judge ruled it was awarded illegally. The ruling leaves the fate of the five-year-old broadband and video-conferencing network in limbo, along with the tens of millions of dollars already spent on the project linking Idaho high schools, dubbed the Idaho Education Network.

Education Networks of America and Qwest, now known as CenturyLink, the two firms that got the contract, could end up the biggest losers in the deal. The judge cited an Idaho law that says when a state contract is issued illegally, all money paid by the state under the contract “shall be repaid forthwith.” Spokesmen for both companies didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. But Garry Lough, Idaho sales director for ENA, told Idaho Education News his firm “will focus on continuing to provide stellar service as we allow time for the process to run its course.” You can see reporter Kevin Richert’s full report here.

Otter: ‘Legal decision does not detract from the value of the IEN’

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has issued this statement about the court ruling voiding the state’s contract for the Idaho Education Network:

“There has never been a question about the opportunities the Idaho Education Network (IEN) provides to our students and teachers. Yesterday’s legal decision does not detract from the value of the IEN. I support the IEN and recognize the significance of this service for all of Idaho, especially our rural communities.  I call upon all of the parties and stakeholders to commit to preserving this valuable service and unprecedented access to technology for Idaho’s students, teachers and communities while we work through the process.”  

The governor's statement came in a news release from the IEN; you can read it here. It says, "The Department of Administration is currently reviewing the District Court's ruling, and a decision about how to proceed will be forthcoming. The state is committed to continuing to provide course access and opportunities to Idaho's students."

Goedde: Attorneys for the state were confident, voiding of IEN contract a surprise

Outgoing Senate Education Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, said he’s concerned about the future of state-provided broadband for Idaho schools, after a judge voided the state’s contract for the Idaho Education Network, ruling it was issued illegally. “Certainly the attorneys for the state all along have expressed confidence in what had been done,” Goedde said. “So it kind of takes me aback a little bit, to find out that the summary judgment was issued.”

“There have been issues with the IEN all along,” Goedde said. But he said the concept behind it is important. “Expanding broadband to schools is, from my perspective, one of the great equalizers,” he said. “It certainly brings the whole world to students, and to teachers. So it’s become an integral part of the everyday classroom, and I just can’t envision that changing. We owe that to Idaho’s students.”

The state Department of Administration and the state’s outside attorneys had been so confident of the state’s chances of success in the case that the state department didn’t even bother to inform lawmakers in 2013 that it had extended the contract through 2019, promising another $10 million to Education Networks of America, even though the deal wasn’t yet up for renewal. State Administration Director Teresa Luna told the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee in February that the department anticipated some state savings from the early renewal. In addition to broadband connections, the network provides video tele-conferencing equipment at Idaho high schools.

ENA and Qwest may be the ones out millions from IEN ruling, not the state…

It may not be the state that’s out tens of millions of dollars because of an illegal contract for the Idaho Education Network – it may be the contractors, Education Networks of America and Qwest. In his ruling declaring the $60 million IEN contract illegal and void, 4th District Judge Patrick Owen wrote, “Because these contract awards are void, the provisions of Idaho Code 67-5725 now apply.”

That section of state law says:

“All contracts or agreements made in violation of the provisions of this chapter shall be void and any sum of money advanced by the state of Idaho in consideration of any such contract or agreement shall be repaid forthwith. In the event of refusal or delay when repayment is demanded by the proper officer of the state of Idaho, under whose authority such contract or agreement shall have been made or entered into, every person so refusing or delaying, together with his surety or sureties, shall be forthwith prosecuted at law for the recovery of such sum of money so advanced.”

“ENA and Qwest would have to pay the money back,” said Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, co-chairman of the Legislature’s Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee. “If I understand the ruling correctly, the contract is considered null and void and money that the state has paid out to ENA and Qwest are to be refunded to the state.”

“It’s what we had expected,” Cameron said. “It is why we had strongly and repeatedly encouraged the Department of Administration to resolve it and settle it before it got to this point.” The case went to mediation last month, but state officials said they were outraged that Syringa asked for damages, starting with a $17 million request, later dropped to roughly $5 million. Gov. Butch Otter said in a campaign statement Oct. 16 that Syringa has no right to any state payment. “It has no legitimate claim for monetary damages,” his statement said.

Cameron said, “I don’t know whether there’s any way of settling it at this point or not. It’s why we were very direct in all of our JFAC meetings in encouraging a settlement to occur, because if the court ruled as it looked like they might and they did, the Idaho Education Network would certainly be in jeopardy. And for whatever reason, the Department of Administration did not see fit to heed that counsel.”

Cameron said any settlement figure that the state had agreed to at least would have been a one-time payment, as opposed to the continuing requests the Legislature has received to bail out the IEN with millions in state funds each year because of the missing federal e-rate funds, which were supposed to cover 75 percent of the costs. The feds put those payments on hold in 2013 when the Idaho Supreme Court issued its initial ruling in the lawsuit over the contract award.

Cameron said, "I suspect they have an ability to appeal, but it seems futile, if they're going to appeal back to the same Supreme Court who essentially agreed with Syringa in the first place."

Cameron said, “It would be, in my opinion, foolhardy for us to give additional money to a contract that is now considered to be void, and yet I think all of us would like to see the IEN succeed.” He said, “It’ll be a challenge, and I’m sure we’ll figure out a way to work through it. … I think long-term the IEN will exist, but I think the short-term ability for it to be available is in question.”

Bedke: Broadband for schools still a ‘worthy effort,’ hopes for a ‘do-over’

Idaho House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, said this morning that he’s hopeful a “do-over” can happen on the voided contract to operate the Idaho Education Network statewide broadband network, to find a way to keep the service linking Idaho schools running. “I think that’s probably in everyone’s best interest,” Bedke said from a bus on the North Idaho Legislative Tour. “No one questions the need for getting broadband accessibility out in all the schools, and so that needs to be our goal.”

“To the extent we’re culpable, we’ll shoulder our responsibilities, I believe, collectively as a state, but that doesn’t diminish the fact that this is a worthy effort,” he said. “I don’t think the Legislature is going to be willing to walk away from the network. In this day and age, I think it’s a necessary component of our education system.”

Bedke said he hadn’t yet had a chance to review the judge’s ruling. “I suspect that this will be the topic of most of the conversations tomorrow,” he said. “The high ground is that the system and the need is valid, and we need to get everything squared away so that we can accomplish that.”

Link to full judge’s ruling; successful bidder was big giver to Otter, Luna campaigns

Here’s a link to 4th District Judge Patrick Owen’s full ruling in the Syringa Networks case, declaring the multimillion-dollar contract award for the Idaho Education Network illegal and void. The judge’s ruling could cost the state tens of millions as it has to repay federal funds that were supposed to cover three-quarters of the cost of the broadband network linking every Idaho high school. Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has steadfastly defended the contract for the past five years, even as courts including the Idaho Supreme Court continued to rule against it; the contract was awarded by Otter’s best friend, Mike Gwartney, who at the time was serving as the director of his state Department of Administration.

Education Networks of America, the company that got the contract along with Qwest, has donated $18,250 to Otter’s campaign, including $5,000 on Sept. 26 of this year. The firm also was awarded a second multimillion-dollar contract in July of 2013 to provide WiFi networks in Idaho high schools; state Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna awarded that contract. ENA also has contributed $6,000 to Luna’s campaign since 2009.

Last-minute campaign cash continues to fly

Last-minute campaign money continues to fly ahead of Tuesday’s election; you can see all the latest independent expenditure reports here, and the statewide candidates’ 48-hour notices here. Kevin Richert of Idaho Education News tallied up the 48-hour reports, which are required for contributions or independent expenditures of $1,000 or more from Oct. 20 to Nov. 1, and reports that the past two weeks have seen a $1.5 million spending spree in the governor’s race, including fundraising by both the leading candidates, incumbent GOP Gov. Butch Otter and Democratic challenger A.J. Balukoff, and independent expenditures by outside groups largely backing Otter and opposing Balukoff.  His full report is online here.

Balukoff’s past campaign contributions went to both R’s and D’s - including one to Otter in ‘04

Here’s an interesting tidbit: After reading in the Twin Falls Times-News today that A.J. Balukoff, Democratic candidate for governor of Idaho, donated to Republican Mitt Romney’s presidential campaigns both in 2007 and in 2012, I searched FEC records for Balukoff’s donations in federal races. Both those donations showed up, $2,300 in 2007 and $2,500 in 2012. So did several others – donations both to Republicans and Democrats over the years. In federal campaigns, Balukoff has donated to Democrats Shirley Ringo, Nels Mitchell and Walt Minnick; and to Republicans Larry Craig (2001), Mike Simpson (1998), Mark Stubbs (1998).

And, perhaps most interesting of all was this donation: In 2004, Balukoff donated $250 to a GOP candidate for Congress – Butch Otter. Mike Lanza, Balukoff’s campaign spokesman, said, “He once believed that Butch Otter would deliver on his promises. He no longer believes that.”

Groups spending on Idaho races as election approaches…

Today’s independent expenditure reports – documenting big independent campaign spending in the final days before the election, which must be reported within 48 hours – include an IACI-linked group, the Idaho Prosperity Fund, spending another $50,000 today on literature attacking Democratic candidate for governor A.J. Balukoff; the Idaho Republican Party spending $65,416 Monday on mailings supporting Butch Otter, Lawerence Denney and Sherri Ybarra and opposing A.J. Balukoff, Holli Woodings and Jana Jones; and Idahoans for a Strong Economy, a Democratic group, spending close to $140,000 yesterday and today on mailings, broadcast advertising (including radio ads) and literature supporting Jones and Woodings and opposing Denney. You can see the full reports online here.

Otter, Balukoff each report spending more than half a million on broadcast advertising in October

The 7-day pre-general election campaign finance reports were due by 5 p.m. today. Here’s what they show in the governor’s race: A.J. Balukoff, Democratic candidate for governor, reported more than $1.04 million in fundraising during the final reporting period, from Oct. 1-Oct. 19, with $995,000 of that coming from his own funds. Overall, Balukoff reported raising $3.2 million to date, more than $2.7 million of it his own money, and spending all but $7,552. (See below for more on this from Idaho EdNews reporter Kevin Richert.)

Libertarian candidate for governor John Bujak reported raising $11,565 in the final reporting period, including $5,000 each from his parents, Joseph and Jean Bujak of Coeur d’Alene; he raised $29,638 year-to-date, including an earlier $10,000 loan to his campaign, and still had $15,080 in the bank at the close of the reporting period.

Incumbent GOP Gov. Butch Otter reported raising $184,321 in the final reporting period, through Oct. 19, and $2 million to date, and spending all but $157,719 by the close of the reporting period. Both Otter and Balukoff reported that their biggest expenses during the reporting period were for broadcast advertising, with each spending well over half a million dollars.

The 7-day pre-general election reports only cover contributions and spending through Oct. 19, but big contributions in the final two weeks before the election must be reported on separate reports that are due within 48 hours. Both Otter and Balukoff filed 48-hour reports today. Balukoff reported $101,000 in contributions on Monday, with $100,000 of that his own money. Otter reported $18,400 in new contributions on Monday, with $3,000 from Hayden Beverage Co. and $2,500 from Rod Lewis of Eagle the largest on the list.

Also filing a 48-hour report today: Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, who reported receiving a $5,000 campaign contribution from Facebook in Menlo Park, Calif. on Monday.

Idaho Education News reporter Kevin Richert tallied up Balukoff's reports in the governor's race, including the 48-hour reports, and came up with a total of $3.2 million in personal funds Balukoff has put into his campaign all told. Richert also has an overview of top races here, including two more races in which Democrats have out-raised their Republican opponents: Secretary of State, in which Democratic candidate Holli Woodings loaned her campaign another $100,000 and also collected twice as much in donations as GOP rival Lawerence Denney during the final reporting period; and state superintendent of schools, in which Democratic candidate Jana Jones continued to out-raise GOP rival Sherri Ybarra.

Today’s reports show more spending on pro-Otter, anti-Balukoff independent ads

Today’s tally of last-minute campaign spending shows another big broadcast advertising push in favor of GOP Gov. Butch Otter, to the tune of $50,241 by the Idaho Republican Party, which already had launched a radio ad campaign. And another push against Otter’s Democratic challenger, A.J. Balukoff, by the Idaho Prosperity Fund, a political action committee affiliated with the Idaho Association of Commerce & Industry business lobbying group; the IACI group spent another $24,012 for broadcast advertising against Balukoff on Saturday, according to 48-hour reports filed with the Idaho Secretary of State’s office.

Meanwhile, the Conservation Voters for Idaho Action Fund reported spending $7,766 on mailings in support of candidates Fosbury, Rudolph and Rubel; and Michael D. Batt of Idaho Falls reported spending $10,198 on radio advertising against Balukoff in eastern Idaho.

Candidates filing 48-hour reports today included Otter, who reported $4,000 in new contributions including $2,000 from K12 Management Inc. of Herndon, Va.; Lt. Gov. Brad Little, who reported $7,000 in new contributions including $4,000 from Midas Gold Inc.; GOP Secretary of State candidate Lawerence Denney, who reported a $1,000 contribution from Todd Mall of Grand Rapids, Mich.; Democratic candidate for state schools superintendent Jana Jones, who reported a $1,000 contribution from high-tech entrepreneur and human rights activist Greg Carr of Idaho Falls; and GOP state Controller Brandon Woolf, who is unopposed for re-election but reported a $1,000 campaign contribution from Potlatch Corp.

More last-minute campaign $$: Otter collects, Balukoff antes, PACs start swapping money around…

On the last-minute campaign cash front, A.J. Balukoff, the Democratic candidate for governor, had the biggest numbers today, not only collecting two more $1,000 contributions but also putting another $345,000 of his own money into his campaign. That brings him up above the $2 million mark for the personal funds he's put into his campaign for governor. Meanwhile, Gov. Butch Otter reported another $13,500 in major contributions, according to 48-hour notices filed with the Idaho Secretary of State’s office; that included $5,000 contributions from Hewlett-Packard Company PAC and from Marian Zubizareta of Boise. The other candidate with a 48-hour notice filed today was Democratic candidate for Secretary of State Holli Woodings, who reported $3,500 in new contributions, including $2,500 from the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes.

Several new independent-expenditure notices also were filed today. The Idaho Realtors PAC reported spending $4,750 on literature, postage and advertising in support of Rep. Cindy Agidius, R-Moscow, who is locked in a tight rematch race with Democratic challenger Paulette Jordan, who lost to Agidius two years ago by just 123 votes.

Two PACs that were among several used two years ago for a controversial money-shuffling maneuver to underwrite unsuccessful efforts to defeat several Republican incumbents are also starting to shift money around again: GUN PAC reported spending $1,166 for literature on behalf of Rep. Thyra Stevenson, R-Lewiston, and transferring $2,000 to Free Enterprise PAC for advertising. Meanwhile, Free Enterprise PAC reported spending an identical amount, $1,166, on literature on behalf of Stevenson, and transferring $1,500 to Idaho Chooses Life for advertising.

Last-minute campaign money flying

It’s that time, the period shortly before the election when things happen quickly. Campaign contributions or independent expenditures of $1,000 or more now have to be disclosed within 48 hours. There are three independent expenditure notices thus far: The “American Comeback Committee Idaho PAC,” which is affiliated with the Republican Governors Association, has reported spending $33,645 on Monday for literature/printing in support of Butch Otter and against A.J. Balukoff, all paid to Paces Direct LLC in Atlanta, Ga.; the RGA already has run two TV ads in Idaho attacking Balukoff.

And the Idaho Republican Party has reported a $24,871 independent expenditure for broadcast advertising in support of Butch Otter, through a payment to Strategic Media Services Inc. of Arlington, Va. Party Executive Director Dave Johnston said that’s for a new radio ad the party is launching touting Otter, to run in selected markets around the state. “We put together a radio ad that talks about pro things about our governor, so that’s hitting the airwaves,” he said. There may or may not be more to come. “We’ll see,” Johnston said. “We’re adjusting on the fly … as the campaign cycle gets closer and closer. … So it depends on how the remaining week goes.”

The third independent expenditure report, from “Idahoans for a Strong Economy” and benefiting candidates Talkington, Burgoyne, Kloc, McCrostie and Wood, reports $1,870 spent for a mailing.

Meanwhile, as of mid-afternoon today, Otter has filed 48-hour reports showing eight contributions totaling $27,000, including $5,000 each from the Idaho Republican Party, Babcock & Wilcox Co. of Lynchburg, Va., Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers of Washington., D.C., and Val Holms of Helena, Mont. Balukoff has filed 48-hour reports showing four new $1,000 donations, plus another $100,000 of his own money that he’s kicked into his campaign.

Lawerence Denney, the GOP candidate for Idaho Secretary of State, reported two $5,000 contributions, one from the Idaho Republican Party and one from Richard Larsen of Rexburg. And Jana Jones, the Democratic candidate for state superintendent of schools, reported a $1,000 contribution yesterday from the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, while GOP rival Sherri Ybarra received $5,000 yesterday from the Idaho Republican Party. Also, state Treasurer Ron Crane reported a $5,000 donation from Richard Larsen Farms in Rexburg. You can see the statewide candidates’ filings here, and the independent expenditure reports here.

Dems have money edge in 3 statewide races: Governor, schools chief, and Secretary of State

In three statewide races, Democratic candidates enjoy a significant fundraising advantages heading into the final weeks of the campaign, reports Idaho Education News reporter Kevin Richert, who has been tallying campaign finance reports filed for today’s deadline. Democratic gubernatorial candidate A.J. Balukoff raised — and spent — more than $1.8 million on his bid to unseat GOP incumbent Butch Otter, Richert reports. However, the accountant, prominent businessman and Boise School Board member self-financed the bulk of his campaign. Meanwhile, Otter raised more than $600,000 during the summer, and heads into the campaign home stretch with more than a 10-to-1 advantage in cash on hand.

Through the summer, state superintendent’s candidate Jana Jones continued to pad her fundraising advantage over Republican Sherri Ybarra, as the candidates vie to succeed outgoing Republican Tom Luna. In another open race, this one to succeed longtime Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, Democratic state Rep. Holli Woodings of Boise has built a sizable fundraising edge over state Rep. Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale, a former House speaker. You can read Richert’s full report here.

Balukoff offers 3-1 match for donors to his campaign against Otter

A.J. Balukoff, the Democratic candidate for governor of Idaho, is matching contributions to his campaign by putting in $3 for every $1 donated this month, Idaho Statesman political columnist Dan Popkey reports today. Balukoff’s pledge is credible because the multimillionaire businessman can afford it – and he said when he announced his candidacy against two-term GOP Gov. Butch Otter that he was willing to dip into his own funds to help finance his campaign.

“I know that pay-to-pay politics will put my opponent at a financial advantage, but I was surprised to find out how slanted it is,” Popkey reported Balukoff said in a fundraising pitch sent out to supporters this week, headed, "Jump in July: TRIPLE MATCH!" Balukoff told Popkey, “I think it’s important that this race be competitive and that we talk about issues. People pay attention when they realize there’s a viable alternative to Gov. Otter.” Popkey’s full report is online here.

Jones has 70-to-1 fundraising advantage over Ybarra coming out of primary

Unopposed in the Democratic primary, state superintendent candidate Jana Jones enters the general election campaign with a 70-to-1 advantage in cash on hand, reports Kevin Richert of Idaho Education News. While fundraising in the superintendent’s race has been relatively modest on both sides, Jones has more than $20,000 in her campaign account, Richert reports, according to campaign finance reports filed this week. Ybarra, the Republicans’ surprise nominee for state superintendent, enters the general election season with less than $300 on hand.

This week was the deadline for all statewide candidates to file post-primary finance reports. These reports outline fundraising activity during the final runup to the May 20 primaries and in the aftermath of the elections. Jones raised more than $7,800 in the filing period. Ybarra raised only $300 — and $250 came from a single donation, from Idaho Falls Republican Rep. Wendy Horman, a House Education Committee member.

Richert also reports that Gov. Butch Otter has more than $450,000 on hand coming out of the primary; Democratic challenger A.J. Balukoff has less than $40,000. In the race for Secretary of State, Democrat Holli Woodings has $22,000 in her campaign warchest, while Republican Lawerence Denney has barely $3,000. You can read Richert’s full report here, including notable givers in some of these races.

Outside money floods Idaho races

Idaho Falls Post Register reporter Bryan Clark analyzed overall contributions to state candidates that have been entered into the state's campaign finance database so far this year, and found nearly $590,000 in out-of-state contributions, an amount that already exceeds out-of-state contributions at this time of year in any election cycle for the last two decades, with the exception of 2006. During the 2000 election cycle, 13.3 percent of those donations came from beyond the state, Clark reports. Click below for his full report.

Otter’s raised $407K in the past five months for campaign; Fulcher, $106K

Today was the deadline for Idaho primary election candidates to file their campaign finance disclosure reports, the only chance voters get before the primary to see who's funding the various campaigns. The reports show that Gov. Butch Otter raised more than $407,500 in the past five months, nearly four times as much as GOP challenger Russ Fulcher, the AP reports. Click below for a roundup of the reports in statewide races. Also, Idaho EdNews reporter Kevin Richert has an analysis of the reports here; it includes these tidbits: Gov. Butch Otter's contributions included $20 from primary challenger Harley Brown; and one of the biggest donors to Otter challenger Russ Fulcher is Syringa Networks, the company that lost out on the Idaho Education Network contract and sued.

Otter reports more than $700K in bank for run against Fulcher

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter said he has more than $700,000 in cash to wage a campaign against his Republican primary challenger, state Sen. Russ Fulcher. Otter filed his latest campaign report Tuesday, outlining his 2013 fundraising when he brought in $901,000, largely from business groups. Fulcher hasn't filed his report. Meanwhile, Otter hasn't formally announced he's running for a third term. Among Otter's biggest supporters were trucking lobbyists, cigarette-maker Altria, retailer Wal-Mart and wealthy Emmett rancher Harry Bettis, who gave $7,500. The J.R. Simplot Co., owned by family of Otter's ex-wife, Gay, gave $10,000. Direct-marketing company Melaleuca and its owner, GOP booster Frank VanderSloot, also gave $10,000. Among Otter's biggest expenditures was more than $16,000 to Arena Communications, a Utah company that helps do mailing and other services for Republican politicians.

Otter forgives campaign loan from self, plus raises $85K over past six months

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has reported raising $215,369 in campaign funds since Jan. 1, spending $163,088, and ending the reporting period with $129,209 in cash on hand. But both the contribution and spending figures are pushed up by the forgiveness of a $131,000 loan Otter earlier made to his campaign; that’s shown as both a contribution from Otter, forgiving the loan, and an expense for the campaign, paying it off. Without that, Otter reported raising $84,369 in campaign contributions in the first six months of the year, with the largest donations $5,000 each from Monsanto Corp., Riley & Associates of Hayden, and rancher Harry Bettis. The spending figure, without the loan repayment, is just $32,088.

The upshot: Otter, who’s said he’ll run for a third term as governor in 2014, raised almost $85,000 in campaign money over the past six months and forgave his own campaign loan, leaving his campaign debt-free with $129,209 in the bank. You can see the full report here.

Meanwhile, while state schools Superintendent Tom Luna says he’s planning to run for a third term, he reported raising only $4,750 in the last six months, with all the donations coming in the final week of the filing period. His biggest donations were $1,000 each from CenturyLink PAC, from Raul Labrador for Idaho, and from Allen Noble. Luna carried over $16,077 from earlier to make an ending cash balance July 1 of $20,827, but also reported $24,500 in outstanding debt, putting his campaign fund in the red. Oddly, that debt amount is reported in Luna’s summary, but not listed in the detail as either new or carried-over debt; his campaign treasurer didn’t immediately return a reporter’s call to explain. Luna reported no campaign spending in the past six months; you can see his full report here.

Trib: Jeers To Labrador’s Family Biz

In his weekly Cheers & Jeers column, opinionator Marty Trillhaase of the Lewiston Tribune gives …

… Jeers to Congressman Raul Labrador, R-Idaho. When the freshman put his wife Becca on the campaign account two years ago, it looked like a rookie mistake. But in examining Labrador's latest campaign finance report, the Idaho Statesman's Dan Popkey noticed nothing has changed.Labrador, who pulls down $174,000 as a member of Congress, paid his wife $6,045 for the last three months to handle the campaign's books. In addition, the campaign covered $4,224 in federal income and payroll taxes as well as another $1,188 in state taxes. Were those taxes paid on behalf of Becca Labrador? In an email, Labrador's deputy chief of staff, Mike Cunnington, stated: "As we have said before, Becca receives a monthly salary of $2,500 and the campaign pays all taxes that are required." Marty's complete column here.

Question: Should Labador's wife, Becca, be paid for handling the congressman's campaign books?

Labrador’s hefty re-election warchest suggests he won’t leave House to run for guv

Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador is sitting on the second-biggest wad of campaign cash he’s stockpiled since he’s been in office, with more than $277,000 in the bank. That suggests that Labrador is gearing up for a re-election bid for a third term, not for a long-shot primary challenge against two-term GOP Gov. Butch Otter in 2014.

Labrador’s being coy; neither he nor his staffers have returned calls from reporters today, and he’s been hinting for months that he might run for governor or might not and hadn’t yet decided. “Politicians enjoy the attention of people speculating about what office they’re going to run for next,” said BSU professor emeritus and longtime Idaho political observer Jim Weatherby. “He’s certainly benefited from a lot of that kind of speculation, and why wouldn’t he want to continue it for as long as he could?”

Labrador’s latest campaign finance report, filed late last night, shows he ended the year’s second quarter with $277,271 cash on hand. That’s nearly triple the amount he had at this time two years ago, and an amount he’s exceeded only once before, in October of 2012, at the height of the campaign season just weeks before he was re-elected. He raised $65,680 this quarter, an unremarkable amount but for the fact that two-thirds of it came from PACs, a departure for Labrador, who typically has raised more of his campaign funds from individuals than from PACs.

According to FEC records, in 2009-10, Labrador raised more than three times as much for his campaign from individuals as from PACs. In 2011-12, the split was 60 percent from individuals, 40 percent from PACs.

Among the PACs handing over the money now: Microsoft, Google, eBay, Northrup Grumman Employees, Alliant Techsystems, Darigold, Arizona Dairymen, Michigan Milk Producers, the National Roofing Contractors, the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC and more. Those groups, Weatherby noted, certainly don’t “have a big stake in who’s the next governor of Idaho.”

The only way to transfer federal campaign funds to a state campaign is to do what Secretary of State Ben Ysursa terms “reattributing” them – getting a written statement from each original donor, saying they want their money transferred from the congressional campaign to the state gubernatorial campaign. “That’s the only way,” Ysursa said. “There’s not just a direct transfer of money. There has to be reattribution of the individual amounts.” Then, the amounts count against the state’s contribution limits for each donor.

“It’s convoluted, but it can be done,” Ysursa said, most notably by Dirk Kempthorne when he decided to run for governor in 1998 rather than seek another term in the Senate. Kempthorne’s 1998 federal campaign finance report shows he refunded nearly $50,000 in contributions that year, including $38,000 to PACs and $11,600 to individuals; that’s what a candidate would have to do to reattribute the funds and redirect them to a state campaign. A Federal Election Commission spokeswoman said federal laws don’t restrict transfers, but they’re governed by state law and state limits.

Labrador’s July quarterly campaign finance report also shows he received $10,000 in contributions from Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo’s Freedom Fund PAC, with two $5,000 checks, one tabbed for the primary and one for the general election, both coming in June 3.

Said Weatherby, “It certainly looks like he’s not going to take a run at governor.”

Simpson touts record fundraising quarter, says it’s response to his ‘conservative message’

2nd District Congressman Mike Simpson says he's had "one of his most successful fundraising quarters ever," raising more than $300,000 for his re-election campaign, the largest amount raised since his first election to Congress in 1998. The latest campaign finance reports, for the most recent quarter, aren't due until Monday, and as of yet, neither Simpson's nor that of his GOP challenger, Bryan Smith, has arrived at the Federal Election Commission and been posted on their website to show the numbers or details.

Simpson's campaign said he's "received a tremendous response to his conservative message of limited government and fiscal discipline in recording one of his most successful fundraising quarters ever." The campaign's statement also notes his A-plus rating from the NRA, his 100 percent rating from National Right to LIfe, and other conservative credentials as he faces a primary challenge from the right, with a challenger that the anti-tax Club for Growth announced today it recruited specifically to run against Simpson. "I am confident that the totality of my career, and the conservative record I have established, are consistent with the values and expectations of the people of Idaho," Simpson said. Click below for his campaign's full statement.

Crapo defends ex-campaign manager, while calling $250K loss ‘deeply distressing’

Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo is defending his former campaign manager who lost $250,000 in campaign funds in a risky investment, while also calling the incident “discouraging” and “deeply distressing.” Crapo’s then-campaign manager, Jake Ball, loaned $250,000 in campaign funds in 2008 to a longtime friend’s now-defunct investment company, Blueberry Guru LLC, which invested it into real estate ventures in Nevada and California that promised a quick profit. Instead, the money disappeared.

Crapo said he wasn’t informed about the bad loan until late 2010; he worked with the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s office to try to pursue the matter, but to no avail; now, he’s filed amended campaign finance reports for 2008 and 2009 to reflect the loss.

In his quarterly telephone town hall meeting with Idahoans this past week, Crapo addressed the issue before taking questions on other matters. Among his revelations: Crapo said 1st District Rep. Raul Labrador was informed about the investment loss when Ball left Crapo’s staff to become Labrador’s district manager in Idaho in December of 2010. “At that time, my staff informed me that he had informed Rep. Labrador about the circumstance,” Crapo said. When the news of the investment loss surfaced two weeks ago, Ball quit his job with Labrador, saying he wanted to pursue a business opportunity.

“Jake had been working for me in different capacities since about 2002, starting as an intern and holding positions in Washington, D.C. and in Idaho, in my Senate office before moving to my campaign, and he had always exhibited good judgment in those positions,” Crapo said. “In fact, during his tenure as campaign manager, through traditional investments which are government-backed CDs, he had brought in over $300,000 in interest payments. But this one bad loan was made and it was very discouraging.”

Crapo said he’s “taken steps to ensure nothing like this ever occurs again on my campaign.” Now, he said, “At least two separate individuals review and approve any expenditure.” Plus, an accounting firm, Professional Data Services, has been hired to oversee all campaign expenditures and reports. “This is a very discouraging circumstance,” Crapo said. “I deeply appreciate those who have contributed to may campaign over the years. And it’s distressing to have to report this matter not only to those donors, but to all Idahoans.”

Crapo’s quarterly tele-town halls are posted as audio on his Senate website, but you won’t find these comments there; they’ve been edited out. The reason: “It’s because we can’t post on the Senate’s official website anything of a campaign nature,” said Crapo spokesman Lindsay Nothern. “We had a big discussion about that, because we wanted to put (up) the whole thing, but we checked with the Ethics Committee,” and it wasn’t permitted.