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Crapo’s campaign suffered from poor financial controls

Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo said earlier that the $250,000 investment loss his campaign suffered in 2008 - and just now disclosed - came at a time when the campaign was between treasurers, so only then-campaign manager Jake Ball authorized the expenditure, in the form of a loan to a longtime friend. But William Corbett, who was Crapo's volunteer campaign treasurer at the time,  tells the AP he was never informed about the transaction. "Obviously, if I would have, it would have been reported," Corbett said. AP reporter John Miller reports that aides for Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson and Sen. Jim Risch say their campaigns have safeguards and internal controls to protect donor money from a similar fate; among other things, investments such as the ones Ball said he employed with his friend would be forbidden. Click below for Miller's full report.

Crapo’s lost campaign cash went to Las Vegas firm, intended for quick profit

The $250,000 bad loan of campaign cash from Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo's campaign went to a Las Vegas company that offered a quick profit in two months, according to documents obtained by the Associated Press. Then-Crapo campaign manager Jake Ball, who resigned last week as Idaho 1st District Rep. Raul Labrador's district director, said in a sworn affidavit that he trusted a longtime friend who "invested the money in a less than professional manner and, without knowing it, in fraudulent enterprises with persons who absconded with the funds." Ball said as a father of four, he didn't have the means himself to repay the funds to the campaign. Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller. The now-defunct Las Vegas company was called Pyramid Global Resources.

Former Crapo staffer: ‘He trusted me to place cash and I did’

Here's the latest on the Crapo campaign's $250,000 loss from a bad loan by former campaign manager Jake Ball: Ball has now resigned from his current position on the staff of 1st District Rep. Raul Labrador, though he says it's unrelated to the loan issue. Ball told the AP he decided to leave to pursue a personal business venture. He said he made no effort to keep the loan of Crapo's campaign funds to a longtime friend secret, though he didn't disclose it to Crapo until he was leaving his campaign staff in late 2010. "We never generally discussed investments," Ball said. "He trusted me to place cash and I did." He said he regrets the campaign lost money, but calculated in 2008 that he'd done sufficient due-diligence on his investment with his friend to conclude that the transaction was appropriate. "I saw what Gavin was going to do on his end, I saw how the funds were going to be held, and I evaluated it to be safe," he said.

Ball released this statement: "I deeply regret that the campaign lost money.  I am grateful for the amazing experience I’ve had to work for both Senator Crapo and Congressman Labrador. I have evaluated my future and options. Even though Congressman Labrador offered to support me if I wanted to stay on staff, I elected to depart and pursue a business venture I have been working on for several years.  The venture is an e-commerce website, www.childrensbookstore.com."

Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

Former Crapo campaign chief made the bad loan to longtime friend

Stephen Ryan, a Washington, D.C. attorney hired by Sen. Mike Crapo’s campaign to look into the loss of $250,000 in campaign funds through a bad loan, said this afternoon that then-campaign manager Jake Ball loaned the money to Gavin McCaleb, whom he’d known for 16 years, and McCaleb invested it into real estate ventures in Nevada and California that went sour. McCaleb is bankrupt, and the campaign can’t collect from him, Ryan said.

Ball, who now works for 1stDistrict Rep. Raul Labrador, didn’t tell Crapo about the bad loan until he was leaving the staff in late 2010; because the campaign was between treasurers, he was the sole staffer who approved that use of the campaign funds. “We had a campaign person who made a bad business decision and lost the money,” Ryan said; he said Ball was not fired for the incident. “I think Mr. Ball made an error of judgment in making the investment, but I found no evidence that he intended to benefit personally in any way,” Ryan said. “He did trust someone who he knew well,” and that didn’t turn out well.

As for the campaign donors who gave that $250,000 to Crapo’s campaign, Ryan said, “Certainly there’s been a lot of money that’s been properly used in his campaign.” He said, “I think most people understand that this can happen in a business situation, that somebody makes a mistake and it’s a loss and it’s unfortunate. So there’s probably 250 people who cared enough about the senator to give $1,000 and may have to dig deep and give it again.” Crapo has $3.3 million piled up in his campaign warchest, far more than any other member of Idaho’s congressional delegation, though he’s not up for election again until 2016.

Sen. Crapo says his campaign lost $250K on a bad loan to Idaho company

Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo’s campaign is filing amended campaign finance reports for 2008 and 2009 to reflect an “investment loss” of $250,000 in the form of a bad loan to an Idaho company. “The loan was never repaid,” Crapo’s campaign said in a statement today, after a third party "absconded with the money."

The $250,000 loan was made to an Idaho-based limited liability company called Blueberry Guru LLC. “According to Gavin McCaleb, the managing member of the company that invested the loan, Blueberry Guru handed the funds over to a third-party venture that absconded with the money,” the Crapo campaign said, adding that the senator was informed of the loss in late 2010. Since then, the statement said, the campaign has been working with legal representatives in Idaho and California, and voluntarily reported the matter to federal law enforcement. “Ultimately, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office indicated late last year that neither were in a position to pursue the matter further and the investigation was closed.”

The campaign said Crapo himself was not involved in the decision to make the loan, and learned of it only after the investment had gone bad. The campaign has retained a Washington, D.C. attorney to advise it on how to recover the money and how to report it to the FEC; attorney Stephen Ryan advised that recovery is unlikely. “Although the campaign reviewed many avenues to retrieve the money, those efforts have been unsuccessful,” Ryan said, “and it is necessary and appropriate to file amended campaign reports for the time period involved now that this conclusion has been reached.”

The Associated Press reported this morning that the loan was approved by former Crapo campaign manager Jake Ball, who is now on U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador's staff; Ball didn't immediately return an AP phone call seeking comment.

“I was not asked about nor approved this loan, and am certainly disappointed that the money was lost,” Crapo said. “This circumstance occurred during a period of transition between treasurers. I have ensured that the campaign has made the appropriate adjustments to prevent this, or anything similar, from happening in the future.”

Crapo spokesman Lindsay Nothern said the campaign had made no other similar loans; it had invested in CDs and other similar investments to designed to increase campaign funds during off-election years.

Raising it, spending it…

A few more tidbits from the first-quarter campaign finance reports: Yes, Sen. Mike Crapo and Rep. Raul Labrador both actually spent more than they raised in the first quarter of this year (Crapo raised $32,000 and spent $103,000; while Labrador raised $22,120 and spent $37,158). Crapo’s biggest expenses were $13,168 for fundraising consulting, $15,000 for polling and $29,243 for legal fees. The legal fees were for campaign finance legal advice, and weren’t related to Crapo’s Jan. 4 guilty plea to DUI. Said Crapo’s press secretary, Judd Deere, “No campaign funds have been used in relation to the DUI. … It was a personal matter and he paid for it with personal funds.”

Labrador’s biggest single expense for the quarter: The $6,046 he paid in salary to his wife, Becca, who keeps the campaign’s books.

Sen. Jim Risch, who raised more than twice what he spent during the quarter, had campaign events as his biggest expense. Rep. Mike Simpson, who ended the quarter with the smallest campaign warchest of the four, nevertheless  transferred $20,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee, described as a “transfer of excess campaign funds.”

Crapo’s campaign warchest biggest in Idaho delegation

Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo has by far the biggest campaign warchest of anyone in the Idaho congressional delegation, Idaho Statesman reporter Dan Popkey reports today, with $3.3 million piled up. Popkey went through the first quarter reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, and reported that Crapo, who won’t be on the ballot again until May of 2016, raised about $32,000 from January to March and spent about $103,000. Meanwhile, Sen. Jim Risch raised $50,400, spent $23,170, and had $259,523 on hand; 1st District Rep. Raul Labrador raised $22,120, spent $37,158, and had $235,433 on hand; and 2nd District Rep. Mike Simpson raised $86,850, spent $81,513, and had $71,826 in cash. You can read Popkey’s full report here.

McMillan files finance report; other candidates report campaign debts

At 1 minute to 5 p.m. today Boise time, the Idaho Secretary of State’s office reported that Rep. Shannon McMillan, R-Silverton, had filed her campaign finance report; up to that point, she was the only incumbent lawmaker who hadn’t filed. The deadline was Dec. 6. By getting the report in now, she avoids possible $50-a-day fines.

In other news from North Idaho lawmakers’ and candidates’ latest finance reports, the candidate who ended the election cycle with the biggest campaign debt in North Idaho is new Rep. Thyra Stevenson, R-Lewiston, who reported $21,000 in campaign debt to herself at the close of the reporting period. Stevenson defeated Democrat Pete Gertonson with 54.2 percent of the vote. In second place for campaign debt was independent Jon Cantamessa, with $14,786, whose challenge to Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, fell short; she won with 64 percent of the vote.

The third-highest campaign debt reported in North Idaho, in districts 1 through 7, belongs to new Rep. Ed Morse, though the $10,000 debt is a holdover from his hard-fought primary race, in which he defeated then-Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol.  GOP candidate Ken DeVries, who failed to unseat Rep. Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow, reported $6,119 in campaign debt; Democratic challenger Anne Nesse, who failed to unseat Rep. Kathy Sims, R-Coeur d’Alene, reported $5,559 in debt.

North Idaho lawmaker misses campaign finance deadline, could be fined…

Second-term Rep. Shannon McMillan, R-Silverton, hasn’t filed the required post-election campaign finance report, the only North Idaho legislative incumbent or candidate to miss the filing deadline. The reports were due the 6thof December – today’s the 12th. Candidates can meet the deadline by having that postmark, so the Secretary of State’s office is just gearing up now to go after those who haven’t filed; notices will go out tomorrow. In addition to McMillan, six unsuccessful legislative candidates around the state missed the deadline; she was the only incumbent.

The tardy candidates will get a warning that if they don’t get their reports in within five days, they could be fined – and the fines are $50 per day for every day that it’s late.

Meanwhile, the final round of campaign finance reports for North Idaho lawmakers and candidates don’t contain a ton of news, but they do show that K12 Management Inc. of Herndon, Va., the for-profit online education company, gave last-minute donations to five lawmakers in Districts 1 through 7, with new Sen. Bob Nonini’s $500 donation reported as arriving on Nov. 6 – Election Day. Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, got a similar donation on Oct. 17, while Sen. Steve Vick R-Dalton Gardens, reported getting his $250 from the firm on Nov. 13, a week after the election, as did Rep. Paul Shepherd, R-Riggins. Rep. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, reported receiving hers on Oct. 24.

Jack Buell, a Democratic Benewah County commissioner since 1974, made a last-minute campaign donation to Republican legislative candidate Cindy Agidius, a donation Agidius reported receiving on Election Day. She defeated Democrat Paulette Jordan by 123 votes.

Funniest billing address: New Rep. Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene, a 30-year-old who is one of the few candidates who reported online advertising on Facebook as part of his campaign, reported that his payments for that went off to the firm at “1 Hacker Way,” in Menlo Park, Calif. And that is, in fact, Facebook’s address. The L.A. Times earlier this year called it “Silicon Valley’s premier vanity address,” in a place where Apple Inc. is located at “1 Infinite Loop” and Genentech Inc. is at “1 DNA Way.”

Hagadone Gave To Secret Group

Amid a campaign secrecy dustup, millionaire Idaho businessman Duane Hagadone (pictured) took back money from a group that was reporting it publicly and gave it to another that fought to keep its donors hidden. On Aug. 6, Hagadone gave $15,000 to Yes for Education, a political action committee campaigning to preserve public schools chief Tom Luna's education overhaul at the ballot box Nov. 6. On Aug. 14, the PAC returned Hagadone's $15,000, according to records filed with the Idaho secretary of state's office. Weeks later, on Sept. 24, he gave $15,000 to Education Voters of Idaho, a group that sought to keep its contributors secret but was forced by a judge Wednesday to reveal financiers, including Hagadone/AP via Eye on Boise. More here. (SR file photo)

Thoughts?

School reform campaign spending sets a record - or does it?

Idaho's fight over three school-reform ballot measures has set a record for campaign spending on ballot measures in straight dollars, reports Idaho Statesman columnist Dan Popkey, eclipsing the 1986 battle in which voters affirmed the Legislature's passage of the Right to Work law. Between all the different groups involved in the school reform campaign, including independent expenditures, Popkey calculates that the opponents have raised $3.6 million and backers $2.6 million, a total of $6.2 million.

In 1986, unions opposed to the Right to Work law spent $2.8 million on the campaign to overturn it, while backers of the law spent $1.167 million to defend it, a total of just under $4 million; 54 percent of voters backed the law. You can read  Popkey's full post here.

If inflation since 1986 is taken into account, however, the 1986 battle still ranks as Idaho's biggest. Using the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator, which is based on the Consumer Price Index, the $3.967 million spent that year would equal $8.376 million in today's 2012 dollars.

So who did all this giving this time around? The biggest giver among proponents is eastern Idaho millionaire Frank VanderSloot. Between VanderSloot's independent expenditures and his donations to various groups campaigning in favor of Propositions 1, 2 and 3, the Melaleuca owner so far has spent $1.4 million, and he told Popkey, "I'm not done yet."

On the "no" side, the biggest giver has been the National Education Association, which has donated $2.8 million so far. Second-biggest is the Idaho Education Association, which has kicked in $601,068, including $495,971 to the "No" campaign and another $105,097 to the group "Idaho Republicans for our Schools," which is running radio ads against the measures. The "No" campaign also has received $36,500 from the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center in Washington, D.C.; $10,000 from Anthony Balukoff; $5,000 from the Pacific Northwest Regional Carpenters Union; and a slew of much smaller donations from individuals in Idaho. The campaign filed 44 pages listing hundreds of small donations from individuals, some as small as $3 apiece; the law requires disclosure only of donations of more than $50.

On the "Yes" side, the money has flowed through the official "Yes for Idaho Education" campaign, which reported raising $950,974, with VanderSloot's Melaleuca as its biggest giver at $604,500; and three other groups: the Idaho Federation of Republican Women, which got all its $428,000 from VanderSloot; Education Voters of Idaho, which revealed yesterday that the biggest givers in its $641,160 in fundraising were Albertson's heir Joe Scott, $250,000, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, $200,000; and Parents for Education Reform, a group related to EVI that raised $150,000, including $100,000 from Students First, a Sacramento, Calif.-based group headed by former Washington, D.C. public schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, and $50,000 from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which also gave $50,000 to the official "Yes" campaign.

You can see all the campaign finance reports on the Secretary of State's website here. They're listed variously under Party Committees, Measure and Miscellaneous Committees, and Independent Expenditures and Electioneering Communications. The final pre-general election reporting period ended Oct. 21, but large amounts donated after that must be reported within 48 hours in separate 48-hour reports that show up on the same website.
  

Columnist: Idaho judge gives ‘eloquent reminder’ of ideals that underly election season

"It’s too bad that the time most ripe for optimism and enthusiasm regarding democracy and citizenship – elections – is so persistently darkened by cynicism," writes Spokesman-Review columnist Shawn Vestal today. "It’s too bad, but not surprising or unfounded. One of the chief failures of our public life is the failure of frankness, and it’s widespread, and it causes an entirely reasonable loss of faith in the whole enterprise. That’s why the 19 pages written by Judge Michael Wetherell and filed in a Boise courtroom this week are such an invigorating tonic." You can read Vestal's full column here at spokesman.com.

Campaign finance reports show VanderSloot, union up ante in ed overhaul fight

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― Eastern Idaho Republican businessman Frank VanderSloot has now spent more than $1 million to help support public schools chief Tom Luna's education overhaul survive the Nov. 6 vote. VanderSloot hopes his money, most coming from his direct-marketing company Melaleuca, is an antidote to efforts financed by the National Education Association and its state affiliate. According to Tuesday's campaign-finance reports, they've bankrolled TV commercials and other advertising against the education changes in excess of $2 million. VanderSloot's TV ads have sought to portray those fighting the education changes as simply seeking to protect union power. Luna's 2011-passed laws limit teachers' collective bargaining rights, require online classes and mandate laptops for ninth-graders, a program due to cost Idaho $180 million over eight years. Luna's foes contend that will take money from teachers.

Secret-donations group files to shift court case to federal court

The secret-donations group that's fighting an attempt by Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa to force it to reveal its contributors before the election has filed a request to move the court case over the matter to federal court, the AP reports. The move by Education Voters of Idaho, which paid for more than $200,000 in statewide TV ads in favor of Propositions 1, 2 and 3 on the November ballot, came just hours before a Boise judge is scheduled to hear the state's motion for a court order against the group. Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

IEA responds to Ysursa’s disclosure demand

The Idaho Education Association has sent a response to the Idaho Secretary of State's office's demand that it disclose its contributors, since it made in-kind contributions to the "No on Props 1,2,3" campaign of more than $180,000. In the letter from its attorney, the IEA says it's not a political committee, but does fall under under a clause in Idaho law for a "non-business entity," a category for non-profit organizations that in the previous year have received contributions or membership fees that exceed 10 percent of its receipts for the year. Under Idaho law, a "non-business entity" is required to disclose all contributions of more than $500, as opposed to political committees, which must disclose all contributions of more than $50.

The IEA said its money all came from annual member dues that are less than $500. So it'll formally declare itself a non-business entity and file the required disclosure forms, but it won't have any contributions over $500 to disclose. In a news release, IEA chief counsel Paul Stark said, "The IEA has always endeavored to be fully compliant with all laws that pertain to the organization. We will continue to do that as we have throughout our 120-year history."

To qualify as a "non-business entity" under Idaho law, an organization must have been in existence for at least a calendar year. That means the new group that sparked the issue, Education Voters of Idaho, which just formed in August, isn't a "non-business entity." The Secretary of State's office contends EVI is a political committee that must disclose contributors over $50; a 4th District judge has set a hearing on the issue for Friday.
  

State files for restraining order on secret-donations group

The state of Idaho today filed for a temporary restraining order against a secretive group that underwrote more than $200,000 in campaign ads in support of three school-reform ballot reform measures and has refused to disclose its funding source, and a judge set a hearing on the matter for Friday; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com. 4th District Judge Deborah Bail will hold a hearing on the motion for a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction at 1:30 p.m. on Friday.

The group, "Education Voters of Idaho," incorporated in August and within the next 40 days, had transferred $200,350 to a political committee, Parents for Education Reform, the motion says. That group then immediately spent the money on the statewide TV ads. The contribution and expenditures "were made, directly or indirectly, in a fictitious name, anonymously, or through an agent or other person in such a manner as to conceal the identity or identities of the source(s) of the contributions to EVI, which were in turn immediately spent for political purposes by" the second group, the state's motion says. It adds that Idaho's Sunshine law, enacted by voter initiative in 1974, "prohibits gamesmanship by which nested political committees string together a daisy chain of contributions and expenditures that hide the true contributors."

You can read the state's argument here on its motion for a temporary restraining order.
  

Three groups - IEA, NEA, Conservation Voters - asked to disclose donors

Three organizations - the Idaho Education Association, the National Education Association, and the League of Conservation Voters - have been sent letters from the Idaho Attorney General's office asking them to report the sources of their contributions that they collected and then passed along to political committees. Each of the three letters contains this statement:

"Recent inquiries in Idaho have brought to the forefront the practices of organizations that collect donations from individuals and that make substantial lump sum contributions to political committees, but do not themselves report their contributions as political committees. After reviewing the relevant laws, the Secretary of State's office has come to the conclusion that organizations that 'bundle' donations for contributions to other political committees are themselves political committees. We are writing several such organizations at this time to inform them of their reporting obligations under Idaho law, which have not been clearly enunciated in the past."

The letters note that the NEA donated $1.06 million to the "Vote No on Props 1,2,3" campaign; the IEA made in-kind contributions of $180,021 to the same campaign; and the League of Conservation Voters contributed $15,000 to Conservation Voters for Idaho Action Fund. All three groups are being asked to "please promptly file the required reports."

Attorney for secretive pro-school reform group maintains it doesn’t have to disclose donors

Last week, the state of Idaho sent a letter to Education Voters of Idaho and its attorney, asking the secretive group to disclose the source of more than $200,000 donated to another group, Parents for Education Reform, to fund TV commercials that aired across the state supporting Propositions 1, 2 and 3 on the Idaho ballot - or show why it wasn't required to do so. The two groups share chairs, boards and the same address. Now, attorney Christ Troupis has sent a four-page letter back to Secretary of State Ben Ysursa contending that the newly formed EVI has no more duty to file campaign disclosures as a political committee than the Idaho Education Association or the National Education Association, both of which donated large sums to the No on Props 1, 2, 3 campaign.

In the letter, Troupis offers to have PFER refund the money back to EVI, but says EVI won't disclose its donors. "My client's First Amendment right to Freedom of Association and Freedom of Speech have been chilled and severely infringed by the unwarranted demands and threats of legal action made by your office," Troupis writes; you can read his letter here. Troupis is the same attorney who represented the Idaho Republican Party in its closed-primary lawsuit against the state. The money in question went to pay for a statewide TV ad campaign in favor of the school reform propositions, with the slogan, "Education reform for the 21st century is as simple as 1, 2, 3."

Idaho Code 67-6602 defines a political committee as one that "receives contributions and makes expenditures in an amount exceeding five hundred dollars ($500) in any calendar year for the purpose of supporting or opposing one (1) or more candidates or measures." The Secretary of State's office has contended that EVI is a political committee; the group says it's not. Ysursa is expected to have some response to Troupis' letter Monday; click below for a full report from AP reporter John MIller. "Disclosure of money given by Sept. 30 is the goal," Ysursa told The Associated Press today while meeting with state lawyers in his office.

1st CD finance reports in: Labrador flush with cash, Farris not so much

1st Congressional District GOP Rep. Raul Labrador reports today that he's raised $177,609 in the latest campaign finance reporting period - a total of $797,686 for the election cycle to date; he's spent $87,073 ($510,197 to date), and had $290,984 in cash for his campaign at the close of the reporting period, which ran from July 1 to Sept. 30. His Democratic challenger, Jimmy Farris, reported raising $32,606 in the reporting period - $69,993 to date; spending $31,024 ($60,086 to date), and had just $9,888 on hand at the close of the reporting period.

You can read Farris' 54-page report here, and Labrador's 115-page report here, both at the Federal Election Commission website.

Just over half of Farris' fundraising for the period, $17,000, came from unions. The rest was from individuals, including online donations through the ActBlue Democratic fundraising site, or from Democratic Party committees.

Labrador raised $119,109 from individuals, including lots of business owners and top executives in Idaho, and $58,500 from PACs during the reporting period. His biggest single donation was $10,000 from The Freedom Project, House Speaker John Boehner's House GOP leadership PAC; he also received $2,000 from Friends of John Boehner. Other donations of note to Labrador were a total of $10,000, in four pieces, from two couples from Louisiana who own one of the largest vessel brokerage businesses in the Gulf of Mexico serving the oil and gas industry; $1,000 each from two out-of-state Indian tribes, in Minnesota and Washington; and $2,500 this period for a total of $7,500 to date from the beer wholesalers' PAC.

Labrador continued to pay his wife, Becca, a $2,063 per month salary for her work on the campaign.

Both Labrador and Farris used some of their campaign funds for expenditures identified as political donations. Farris gave $5,000 to the Idaho Democratic Party. Labrador gave $10,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee; $5,332 to the Idaho Republican Party; $500 to the Idaho Freedom Foundation; $310 to the Conservative Women of Idaho State PAC; and $1,000 each to the re-election campaigns of GOP Reps. Joe Walsh of Illinois and Jeffrey Landry of Louisiana.

Senate leadership PAC backs all Senate GOP contenders - except two

In practically every legislative district in the state where there's a contested race - and even one where there's not - the Senate Republican PAC has made a campaign contribution to the Republican candidate. The two exceptions: Sen. Monty Pearce, R-New Plymouth, in District 8, and Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d'Alene, who's running for the Senate seat now held by the retiring Sen. Jim Hammond, R-Coeur d'Alene.

It turns out that Pearce was left out by mistake. "It was an oversight if we didn't make him one," said Senate President Pro-Tem Brent Hill, R-Rexburg. "We need to make one to him. … It wasn't intentional." Pearce, chairman of the Senate Resources Committee, faces Democrat Alma Hasse in the November election.

Nonini was another matter - it was no oversight. Hill said, "We had talked to him. He had $21,000 at the end of the last reporting period and his opponent had, like $30 or something like that, and it didn't seem like he needed the support on that." He added, "Might there be feelings if he received funds from that PAC when some of the people that helped raise the money for that are people that he tried to get defeated? There may have been. That may have been part of our consideration, but it certainly was not the only consideration."

Nonini targeted three sitting GOP senators for defeat in the primary, pouring thousands into their primary opponents' campaigns, but failing in all three cases to unseat them.

The remaining Senate GOP incumbents and aspiring GOP senators, even those facing long odds, got donations from the leadership PAC of $250, $500 or $1,000 each. Hill said the money was allocated "where we felt the need was, and where the funds would do the most good." The unopposed senator who received money - $500 - was Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint. Her Democratic opponent withdrew from the race in June. Said Hill, "I hate to appear behind the times, but I don't think we knew that."
  

Oddest campaign expense line: Septic tank service

The most offbeat item I've seen so far in the latest batch of campaign finance reports is this: A $109.99 payment to Ace Septic Tank Service in Sagle, filed under the category for campaign event-related expenses. Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, laughed when I asked him about the entry in his report. "Maybe I'm the first one to ever have to rent a Porta-Potty for my campaign," he said. "Does that say anything about me? Probably nothing good."

The event in question was Gov. Butch Otter's "Capitol for a Day" at Nordman last month, which was held outside the Priest Lake Lodge on the shores of Priest Lake. "We had 350 people there, and there's no way that Nordman's sewer would've probably handled that at one time. You've only got one facility for men and one for women," Anderson said. His campaign was among the event's sponsors; in addition to renting two portable toilets, he bought 300 pounds of beef for the barbecue and purchased hundreds of dollars worth of potato salad, beans and fixings. Others helped out, too, doing the cooking and serving; the Lion's Club set up the tents. "All the resorts pitched in - they all brought tables and chairs," Anderson said. The crowd included "pretty much everybody from the lake, on a Wednesday in September."

Asked if it was his biggest campaign event of the year, Anderson said, "By far - it was by far the biggest campaign event for my whole life. And the funnest I've ever had." Otter's "Capitol for a Day" events allow folks in small towns to ask questions of the governor and top state agency officials; Lt. Gov. Brad Little and state schools Superintendent Tom Luna were among those attending. "There wasn't a question left unasked," Anderson said.

The hottest topic of the day: Salt on the roads. "People have been noticing their cars are getting rusty now the last two or three years much more than they ever have in the past," Anderson said. "That was a big topic." Other hot topics included state-owned cabin sites; caribou habitat; wolves; Fish and Game; kokanee recovery; and the school reform referenda measures. Said Anderson, "It was just so great for everybody to be out and about. It was a really nice day."

Campaign finance reports still trickling in after yesterday’s postmark deadline…

Not all the campaign finance reports are in from yesterday's 5 p.m. deadline, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're late: This deadline is a postmark deadline, so some candidates could have mailed their reports with a postmark by 5 p.m. yesterday, and still be on time. Among the North Idaho legislative races for which both reports are in is the race for outgoing Rep. Phil Hart's seat between Republican Ed Morse and Democrat Dan English.

English reported
raising $5,076 in the reporting period and spending $4,213, and had $863 cash on hand and $310 in debt at the close of the period. He received nine donations from individuals in North Idaho; his biggest contribution was $400 from the Kootenai County Democratic Central Committee. Most of English's spending was for campaign literature and advertising.

Morse reported
raising $9,873 in the reporting period and spending $5,874; he had $3,999 cash on hand and $10,000 in debt left over from the primary race. Morse received a slew of PAC contributions, $1,000 from Idaho Power Corp., and $500 from House Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke, R-Oakley. Most of Morse's campaign spending went to Strategery Group of Post Falls.

Popkey: State spends $$ to send Hart to ALEC confab, hire PR firm on Lowe case; IEA spends to back Repubs

Among a boatload of interesting items posted on the Idaho Statesman's Idaho Politics blog by columnist Dan Popkey are these:

* At least five Idaho lawmakers are off to Salt Lake this week for the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) conference, including defeated Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, who is traveling at state expense, as is Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens. Popkey reports that Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, the Idaho state chair for ALEC, opted to go at her own expense; read his full post here.

* In the primary election, the Idaho Education Association funneled $9,320 into a new PAC called Idaho Republicans for our Schools, which used the money for robo-calls supporting five GOP legislative candidates: GOP Sens. Shawn Keough, Tim Corder and Dean Cameron, and GOP candidates Stan Bastian and Alan Ward. Rick Jones of Rathdrum, IEA vice president, a Republican and the treasurer of the new PAC, told Popkey, "There are many Idaho educators who are Republicans. What we're saying is let's vote for Republicans who support public education, they're not mutually exclusive." You can read Popkey's full item here.

* Word that Holland & Hart, the private law firm hired by the state to defend it against former ITD chief Pam Lowe's wrongful-firing lawsuit, spent $4,419 in state money to hire Gallatin Public Affairs Group for "litigation assistance" in the first half of 2010, including advice on how the lawsuit would be portrayed in the news media. Read the full report here.

Both presidential campaigns head to Sun Valley for high-dollar fundraisers

The presidential campaign is on its way to Idaho, with both the Republican and Democratic candidates planning major fundraisers in Sun Valley - within a two-day span. Mitt Romney has a $1,000-a-head reception scheduled for the Sun Valley area on Aug. 3, possibly followed by a high-dollar dinner; Idaho Statesman columnist Dan Popkey reported here on that event. And now it turns out that the Obama campaign will hold a high-dollar reception and dinner in Ketchum the previous day, Aug. 2, featuring Vice President Joe Biden.

The Sun Valley area is a target for national campaign fundraisers because of its high-dollar givers to both parties. Republicans have captured the lion's share of Idaho donations so far in the 2012 presidential campaign, with Idahoans donating $1.3 million so far to Republican candidates, and $287,229 to Democrats, according to the Federal Election Commission. Donations to Romney accounted for $970,147 of the GOP giving; 100 percent of the Democratic giving went to Obama.

For the Obama Idaho fundraiser with Biden, attendees can pay $250 just to attend the reception, $1,000 for preferred seating there, or $2,500 for a photo reception; supporters can become dinner co-hosts for $10,000 to $50,000. Romney's event will be his fifth Idaho fundraiser. Neither has announced any public events in conjunction with the fundraisers.

Congressional campaign reports show big fundraising and some big spending…

Idaho's 2nd District congressional candidates are raising big bucks for their campaigns, Boise State Public Radio reports today, with Democratic challenger Nicole LeFavour raising $156,016 so far for her run, and incumbent Republican Rep. Mike Simpson taking in $955,982. BSU radio reports that LeFavour has raised more than any Democrat who has challenged Simpson in years, but Simpson is on a record pace in his own fundraising as well; you can read their full report here.

The figures reflect fundraising for the election cycle to date, as updated by the latest filing, the July quarterly report. Interestingly, Federal Election Commission summaries show that cash-on-hand figures for the two candidates aren't near as far apart: Simpson had $196,703 as of June 30, while LeFavour had $117,602. That's partly because of high expenditures by Simpson: In the most recent period, Simpson raised $193,734, but spent $151,024. LeFavour raised $88,065 and spent $28,258. And though Simpson has raised $955,982 to date, his campaign spending to date came to $604,302, plus he's transferred $300,000 to other committees, including $50,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee in the most recent quarter.

In the 1st District race, freshman GOP Rep. Raul Labrador has raised $551,568 to date, compared to $37,388 for his Democratic challenger Jimmy Farris, according to FEC summaries; in the latest reporting period, Labrador raised $68,725, spent $66,293, and closed the quarter with $202,947 in the bank. Farris' quarterly fundraising came to $9,899; he spent $8,762; and had $8,306 on hand at the close of the quarter.

Marc: Corporations ARE Really People

While the nation holds its collective breath over the fate of Obamacare (hint, it’s going down) the conservative judicial activists on the U.S. Supreme Court have affirmed their original controversial decision that its just fine to have unlimited and often undisclosed corporate money flow into our political system. At issue in the case summarily disposed of Monday was a Montana Supreme Court decision that attempted to uphold the Treasure State’s 100-year plus ban on corporate money in state elections. The Court’s five man majority reversed the Montana court decision and reminded all of us of the essence of its earlier ruling in the now infamous Citizens United case.  “Political speech does not lose First Amendment protection simply because its source is a corporation,” the majority said in an unsigned, one-page ruling/Marc Johnson, The Johnson Report. More here.

Question: Do you think corporations are people (or just Soylent Green)?

Idaho backs Montana in fight to preserve state campaign finance laws against Citizens United decision

Idaho is one of 22 states that have filed a brief today 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 as for individual contributions - $1,000 per election cycle for legislative candidates, which means $1,000 for the primary and $1,000 for the general, $5,000 per election cycle for statewide offices - and  several years ago 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."

Plus, he said, "This doesn't happen often, but we actually got citizens who emailed and called our office asking us to sign on in support. … And that happens so infrequently, that we actually took notice of it." Said Kane, "The Montana Attorney General is working to enforce his state's campaign finance law. And if the Idaho Attorney General's office were put in a similar position, we'd want to have support to enforce our laws as well." Click below for a full report on the case from AP reporter Matt Gouras in Helena.

More last-minute campaign money; PAC targets 2 county commission primaries

More last-minute campaign contributions, funneling of money between interconnected PACs and independent campaign expenditures are being reported today, the day before the primary election, with most coming from the same players. Here's today's roundup, updated as of 5 p.m.:

The Free Enterprise PAC reported spending $5,301 on an independent-expenditure campaign against Republican Lee Staker, who's running for re-election to the Bonneville County commission (Idaho Falls); and in favor of Brian Farnsworth, who's running in a three-way GOP primary for the Jefferson County commission (Rigby). The Free Enterprise PAC also reported receiving, on Thursday, $2,500 from the Idaho Land PAC, $4,500 from the Greater Education Movement, and $1,500 from GunPAC. All are among interconnected PACs operated by GOP consultant Lou Esposito. "We haven't restricted ourselves just to legislative races, but we're looking at races at all levels, and these were two that we thought made sense to get involved in," Esposito said. "We'll be working more in some of the other local races in the future."

Rep. Bob Nonini's Idaho Association for Good Government reported spending $2,626 on an independent campaign mailer Thursday for Scott Workman, the GOP primary challenger to Sen. John Tippets, R-Bennington. Idaho Chooses Life reported spending $2,021 since Saturday on ads in the Bonner Daily Bee targeting Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, and favoring her challenger Danielle Ahrens; and $1,556 on ads in the Idaho Press Tribune targeting Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, and favoring her challenger, Maurice Clements.

IACI's Idaho Prosperity Fund has reported spending another $11,400 on independent mailers and ads for Sen. Bert Brackett, R-Rogerson; $2,500 to support Rep. Marv Hagedorn's bid for the Senate; $2,875 for a mailing and ads supporting Sen. Brent Hill, Rep. Dell Raybould and House hopeful Douglas Hancey Jr.; $2,225 on mailings and ads supporting Lodge and Reps. Gayle Batt and Christy Perry; and $3,500 supporting Tippets. Then it filed more reports at 4:55 p.m. today covering more spending on Saturday: Another $13,500 for Brackett; $1,350 in favor of James Holtzclaw, a House 20B hopeful; $4,750 in mailings and ads favoring Lodge and opposing Clements; another $2,000 backing Lodge; and $2,375 in favor of Lodge, Batt and Perry.

The Idaho Realtors PAC reported spending another $4,600 on mailings and ads backing Robert Anderst for the open District 12A House seat; the Idaho State Pharmacy Association PAC spent $1,113 on Saturday for a mailer supporting Lodge; and the Grassroots Liberty Coalition of Post Falls spent another $1,343 on ads and mailings supporting a list of candidates including Sen. Steve Vick, Reps. Phil Hart and Vito Barbieri, and House hopefuls Ron Mendive and Jack Schroeder, who is running against Rep. Frank Henderson, R-Post Falls.

Conservation Voters for Idaho Action reported late this afternoon that it spent $449 each for promotional items, like yard signs or buttons, for Boise Democratic House hopefuls Mat Erpelding and Holli High Woodings. Meanwhile, Idahoans for a Strong Economy, which shares an address and phone number with Conservation Voters for Idaho Action, reported spending $7,060 each for literature supporting Keough and Sen. Tim Corder, R-Mountain Home, and $10,000 for surveys, with a third of that to benefit Keough and Corder, and the rest on behalf of candidates Matthew Faulks, Sen. Monty Pearce's GOP primary challenger; and Merrill Beyeler, one of five GOP primary challengers to Rep. Lenore Barrett, R-Challis.

Meanwhile, Workman reported loaning his own campaign $3,378; the Nampa Firefighters PAC gave $1,000 to firefighter and District 2 House candidate Fritz Wiedenhoff; House Majority Caucus Chair Ken Roberts collected $2,000 in donations from the Northwest Grocery Association and MIEC PAC, which advocates for tort reform in medical malpractice claims; Ridgeline Energy gave $1,000 each to Reps. George Eskridge and Christy Perry; and House 31A hopeful Robert Butler loaned his campaign $1,400.

Bumper crop of last-minute campaign contributions, independent expenditures

There's been a bumper crop this afternoon of reports of last-minute campaign contributions and independent expenditures filed with the Idaho Secretary of State's office. Among them: IACI's Idaho Prosperity Fund reported spending another $18,000 on independent mailings and ads supporting Reps. Joe Palmer, Mike Moyle, Reed DeMordaunt, Sens. John Tippets and Patti Anne Lodge, Senate hopeful Rep. Marv Hagedorn, and House hopefuls Robert Anderst and James Holtzclaw, who are seeking open seats.

Meanwhile, the Free Enterprise PAC reported $4,044 in independent expenditures for ads in the Bonner Bee against Sen. Shawn Keough and Rep. George Eskridge, on top of $2,022 it reported for the same thing yesterday; so far, Free Enterprise PAC hasn't disclosed the independent expenditures it made for mailers against the two candidates, which PAC coordinator Lou Esposito said are among the expenditures in its earlier PAC report, which doesn't indicate which candidate the mailers are supporting or opposing, as Idaho law requires. Today, a letter went out from the Idaho Secretary of State's office to all PACs warning them that all independent expenditures must be reported, including amounts and names of candidates supported or opposed; you can read that letter here.

Other independent expenditures reported today: Doyle Beck, brother of GOP activist Rod Beck, reported spending $4,505 on a campaign in regard to Idaho Falls House hopefuls Ron Lechelt and Greg Crockett, claiming his campaign is just to "educate" people about the two and not to support or oppose them. North Idaho PAC reported spending $3,487 for literature and postage in support of Ed Morse, one of three GOP primary challengers to Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol. Idaho Realtors PAC reported spending another $6,050 for mailings on behalf of Anderst, Holtzclaw, Senate hopeful Todd Lakey and House hopeful Rick Youngblood. And Grass Roots Liberty Coalition of Post Falls reported spending $8,830 on ads, mailings and an event in support of Reps. Hart and Vito Barbieri, Sen. Steve Vick, and House hopefuls Ron Mendive and Jack Schroeder.

There were also a slew of last-minute campaign contribution 48-hour reports; among them: Free Enterprise PAC got $3,500 from Idaho Land PAC, and GunPAC got $5,000 from Lorna Finman of Rathdrum. All three PACs are run by Esposito. Candidates also filed a raft of 48-hour notices, from Sen. Patti Anne Lodge picking up another $5,000 from PACs and a local dairy to Rep. Bob Schaefer getting $1,000 from Rep. Bob Nonini's Idaho Association for Good Government PAC for his Senate run. Monsanto Corp. sent $1,000 to Rep. George Eskridge; Ridgeline Energy sent the same to Reps. Eric Anderson and Dell Raybould; and A.J. and Susie Balukoff donated $1,000 apiece to Senate hopeful Betty Richardson, while Susie Balukoff gave $1,000 to House hopeful Janie Ward Engelking.

Idaho's primary election is on Tuesday.