Everything tagged

Latest from The Spokesman-Review

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.

GOP lawmakers decry funneling of attack money between interconnected PACs as ‘money laundering,’ call for reforms

The thousands of dollars funneling between a web of affiliated PACs to target certain Republican incumbents has prompted some lawmakers to call for campaign finance reforms, the Twin Falls Times-News reports today. Times-News reporter Melissa Davlin reports that Magic Valley lawmakers like Reps. Fred Wood, Maxine Bell, Jim Patrick and House Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke are decrying the transfer of money from the House Victory Fund, traditionally used to help incumbent Republicans, to GunPAC, which is targeting their colleagues, including House Majority Caucus Chair Ken Roberts, R-Donnelly.

“That’s not the only finance issue making some Republicans uncomfortable,” Davlin writes. “GunPAC is one of four political action committees controlled by Lou Esposito, a Boise-based Republican consultant. According to campaign finance documents, thousands of dollars transferred between Esposito’s four PACs in the last month. Two of the PACs have the same treasurer, and three are located at 202 N. Ninth St. in Boise.” There's nothing illegal about any of that, the Idaho Secretary of State's office told Davlin, but some lawmakers think there should be. “In some cases, it looks like money is being laundered,” Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, told the Times-News. “It’s been shifted from one PAC to the next PAC to the next PAC. I think that should be illegal. It certainly is, in my opinion, unethical.” You can read Davlin's full report here.

Challengers outraise two incumbents, including Hart, in North Idaho’s District 2

In the hard-fought GOP primary races in North Idaho's legislative District 2, campaign finance reports show that challengers have out-raised two of the three incumbents, including tax-protesting Rep. Phil Hart. Hart has raised $6,738 for his campaign, while challenger Ed Morse has raised more than twice as much - $16,479 - and challenger Fritz Wiedenhoff has raised $7,748. That GOP primary also includes Ron Vieselmeyer, who trails with $3,791. Hart also reports a $31,827 outstanding debt to himself.

Meanwhile, GOP challenger Mark Fisher has outspent Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens, a Hart ally, while former Sen. Mike Jorgenson has raised slightly less but spent more than Sen. Steve Vick, R-Dalton Gardens, in their rematch race. Vick, a former Montana state representative, was recruited to run by Hart two years ago, and defeated Jorgensen, then a third-term incumbent.

The campaign finance reports filed this week are Idaho voters' only chance to see who's funding  the various campaigns before next Tuesday's primary election. Click here to read my full story at spokesman.com on the reports in contested races in districts 2, 3 and 4.
  

Avista ‘disappointed,’ S-R stands by story

Avista Corp. issued a statement today saying it was “disappointed” in my article in today's Spokesman-Review on how the utility is spending thousands to target two North Idaho GOP lawmakers for defeat in Tuesday's primary, suggesting the article was misleading because it lacked greater examination of the entire scope of the utility’s political activities, including its activities in the state of Washington. The statement makes no claim that the article was inaccurate; you can read the full statement here.

Meanwhile, S-R City Editor Addy Hatch sent out a tweet noting that a link to Avista's statement has been posted with the story, and adding, “As far as setting the record straight, we believe the story is factual and fair and we stand by it.” And among the 25 comments (so far) on the online version of the story on the S-R website was this one, posted late this afternoon by commenter PerryE:

“I’m George Eskridge’s son, and a lobbyist myself. I agree with Avista that the article wasn’t quite clear enough on the fact that Avista warned my father several months ago, during Idaho’s legislative session, that if he didn’t vote Avista’s way that Avista would be sure that Rep. Eskridge wouldn’t be re-elected.

Growing up, during 'family summer trips' visiting the various Bonneville customers my father so diligently served, I watched my father advocate for cheaper power for utilities and their customers. Now he’s working very hard to ensure that the families in his legislative district have access to cheaper power to keep the lights and heat on as they also work to stay in their homes and put food on their tables.

Now, as Avista has been caught trying to make good on Colwell’s threats, at least Avista could have the decency to owe up to Avista’s political efforts. Their customers, and my dad’s constituents, deserve at least that much!”
  

Campaign finance reports show Avista Corp. is targeting two longtime North Idaho GOP lawmakers for defeat

Avista Corp. is spending thousands of dollars trying to unseat two longtime North Idaho legislators, throwing its support behind tea party backed challengers in next week’s Republican primary. Being targeted is state Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, who supported unsuccessful efforts to establish a consumer advocate to review utility rate requests, and state Rep. George Eskridge, R-Dover, who advocates greater diversity in Idaho’s energy supply. Avista opposed both proposals.

Campaign finance reports filed with the Idaho Secretary of State shows that Avista has given each incumbent’s challenger $1,000, and has given $15,000 to three political action committees that are funneling money back to the challengers, Danielle Ahrens and Pam Stout, as well as sponsoring independent mailers and advertisements critical of Keough and Eskridge.

Neil Colwell, Idaho lobbyist for Avista, acknowledged that while the utility has supported Keough and Eskridge in the past it now would like to see them replaced, but cautioned against assuming all of the PAC contributions are being used exclusively to try unseating them. “We don’t totally control those PACs or anything,” Colwell said. But one of the three, the Greater Education Movement, reported spending money to support only one candidate since Jan. 1: Ahrens.

“We support candidates that are aligned with the interests of our customers and our company goals,” Colwell said. “And we just think we’re more in alignment with these challengers than the incumbents.” The three PACs are run by Lou Esposito, a highly connected GOP political consultant in Boise who was House Speaker Lawerence Denney’s pick to serve on Idaho’s legislative redistricting commission last year; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
  

Tracing web of PACs funneling money in House leadership fight…

Idaho Statesman reporter Dan Popkey traces the web of interconnecting PACs headed by GOP consultant Lou Esposito in his report today, “Idaho House Leaders Attempt Fratricide,” on the leadership rift laid bare by yesterday's pre-primary campaign finance reports. You can read Popkey's report here (turn off your computer volume first if you don't want the loud video ad blaring out before you read the story). His story highlights an unprecedented open feud in the House GOP leadership, with Majority Leader Mike Moyle on a tear to take down Majority Caucus Chair Ken Roberts, while House Speaker Lawerence Denney claims no knowledge and Assistant Majority Leader Scott Bedke tells Popkey, “I cannot condone any of these tactics.”

Reports Popkey, “Groundwork is being done by at least four interconnected PACs led by Lou Esposito, Denney’s appointee to the first 2011 redistricting commission. Esposito operates Spartac, a political consulting firm. He also is coordinating with a fifth PAC, Idaho Chooses Life, led by his friend David Ripley. Idaho Chooses Life is targeting some of the same candidates as Esposito’s PACs. The PACs are sending direct mail, identifying voters and turning out the vote.”

Idaho Republicans turn on one another

With Idaho's first closed GOP primary just a week away, Idaho Republicans are turning on each other with a ferocity unseen in decades. Campaign finance reports filed Tuesday revealed everything from House Republican leadership money being funneled into efforts to defeat a member of House Republican leadership, to a Coeur d'Alene representative targeting two fellow North Idaho GOP lawmakers for defeat. Endorsements are being given and withdrawn, two Kootenai County GOP groups are clawing at each other's right to invoke the name of Ronald Reagan, and independent groups are mounting their own campaigns, either boosting or bashing various GOP incumbents under names like Free Enterprise PAC and Idaho Prosperity Fund.

“It is a divided party,” said Jim Weatherby, Boise State University emeritus professor of public policy and a longtime watcher of Idaho politics. “Primary battles are always tough. I think it's worse now, though, when the legitimacy of being a Republican is questioned, or one's assertion of being a conservative is questioned.” Steve Shaw, a political scientist at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, said with Idaho's one-party GOP dominance, “There's nothing else to do so they're really going after each other.” Plus, he said, “They've gotten a lot more bitter or nasty.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

Rep. Nonini targets two fellow North Idaho GOP lawmakers for defeat, finance reports show

Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d'Alene, is targeting two fellow North Idaho GOP lawmakers for defeat, campaign finance reports filed today reveal. Nonini's PAC, the Idaho Association for Good Government, donated $1,000 each to the campaigns of Danielle Ahrens, tea party adherent and the GOP primary challenger to Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, and Pam Stout, the GOP primary challenger to Rep. George Eskridge, R-Dover, who also is head of the Sandpoint Tea Party Patriots. Nonini's PAC also donated $8,000 to the “Free Enterprise PAC,” which then sent out fliers in North Idaho targeting Keough, vice-chairwoman of the Legislature's Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, as “the No. 1 big spender in Boise” and touting Ahrens as “an actual Republican.”

Nonini's PAC also donated $1,000 to R. Scott Workman of Preston, the eastern Idaho primary challenger to Sen. John Tippets, R-Bennington; and last week gave $1,000 to the primary challenger of 11-term Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, the Senate Finance chairman.

It also backed two other House members who are running for the Senate, Reps. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, and Steven Thayn, R-Emmett, with $1,000 donations (Nonini also gave Thayn another $500 from his own Senate campaign fund), and gave $1,000 to freshman Sen. Steve Vick, R-Dalton Gardens; while giving $500 each to House incumbents Shannon McMillan, R-Silverton; Joe Palmer, R-Meridian; and Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens.

‘GunPAC’ taps House leadership $$ to target gun shop owner, vets’ advocate, and House leader

Here's the weirdest thing about the now-unfolding House Leadership Victory Fund/GunPAC story: Campaign finance reports show that all the House Leadership Victory Fund's fundraising and spending this year has gone to GunPAC - $10,000, 100 percent of its spending during the period (the leadership fund raised $9,000 during the reporting period). GunPAC has released a list of 40 endorsements in legislative primary races, including the challengers of six incumbents, three in the Senate and three in the House. The three House incumbents: Reps. George Eskridge, R-Dover, and Christy Perry, R-Nampa, and House Majority Caucus Chairman Ken Roberts R-Donnelly.

GunPAC, headed by GOP activist Lou Esposito, claims to be all about promoting gun rights. But of the three House incumbents it's targeting, one, Perry, owns a gun store; and another, Eskridge, is a military veteran who's championed military and gun issues. The third, Roberts, is the treasurer of the very Victory Fund whose money GunPAC is using to try to defeat the three.  

Esposito said, “Basically GunPAC's all about 2nd Amendment and 2nd Amendment rights, but there's also the other parts of it at play. You can't look at that just in a vacuum and say, well, are they just right on the gun issue and wrong on other things where we're losing either personal liberties or we're getting taxed to the point where it's hard to put food on the table and other things.” Esposito said the group's chairman is Stu Carty, and the only other one of its four board members he would name was Gerry Sweet; he also said Sweet wanted to make it clear that he dissented from the decision to target Perry.

Denney, Moyle use House leadership PAC to try to defeat Roberts

Here's a news item from the Associated Press:  BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― Top House Republicans Lawerence Denney and Mike Moyle are trying to oust their own Majority Caucus Chairman Ken Roberts from the Legislature by directing thousands to a political action committee that supports Roberts' opponent in Tuesday's primary. GUNPAC, a pro-2nd Amendment PAC, endorsed Roberts' District 8 foe, John Blattler. Denney, the House speaker, gave GUNPAC $10,000 via a House GOP leadership political action committee he controls. Moyle, the majority leader, chipped in another $5,000. Moyle said Tuesday that Roberts opposes him in leadership, so he's trying to get him ousted. Roberts, who is listed as treasurer of the GOP leadership PAC that Denney is using to unseat him, says he's disappointed, adding he thought House PAC money was to help incumbents in general elections, not knock them off in primaries. Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

90% of Sen. Pearce’s campaign spending went for defense attorney for ethics complaint

Sen. Monty Pearce, R-New Plymouth, the Senate Resources chairman, spent $4,400 in campaign funds to pay a prominent Boise defense lawyer to defend him against an ethics complaint that ultimately was dismissed, according to Pearce's latest campaign finance report; you can read the report here. Pearce's payments to Peterson Law Offices made up 90 percent of his campaign spending for the reporting period, which ran from Jan. 1 to April 29; campaign funds generally can be spent for legal defense if it's related to legislative service. Another lawmaker who took advantage of that clause in the previous reporting period was Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, who also tapped campaign funds to pay a lawyer to defend him against ethics complaints in the House.

Pearce, who faces Republican challenger Matthew Faulks of Payette in Tuesday's GOP primary, raised $10,010 in contributions during the period, with his biggest donations including $1,000 each from Idaho Power, Idaho Land PAC and Avista Corp.
  

Pro-business groups back incumbents with Libertarian-leaning rivals

Since last week, pro-business groups like the Idaho Association of Realtors have pumped some $30,000 into campaigns of Republican incumbents facing libertarian-leaning rivals in the May 15 primary, the Associated Press reports. In northern Idaho, Sen. Shawn Keough, of Sandpoint, and Rep. George Eskridge, of Dover, each banked at least $5,000 from donors including grocers, hospitals, insurers and real estate agents. Others to benefit were Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, of Huston, who faces Maurice Clements, a former Idaho GOP legislator in the 1970s who ran unsuccessfully as a Libertarian in 1988.

Keough told the AP that pro-business groups have aligned themselves with incumbents like her because they're concerned their rivals might have run as Libertarian or even Constitution Party candidates in the past. “The folks that are challenging the incumbents aren't necessarily reflective of Main Street Republican values,” Keough said. “It's indicative of what you've been seeing in terms of the split in the party the last four years.”

John Eaton, the Idaho Association of Realtors top lobbyist, told the AP's John Miller that his group gave Lodge $1,000 last week, on grounds she offers the most consistency for businesses than Clements. “He's the perfect example,” Eaton said. “He wants to legalize pot. That's the kind of stuff that the business community would never support.” Click below for Miller's full report.

The latest campaign finance reports…

Here's why reports are required within 48 hours of last-minute contributions for the final week or so before the election: Because it's after the last campaign finance reporting period, and otherwise, no one would know about any of it until after the election. The pre-primary campaign finance report for Idaho legislative races in the May 15 primary is due on Tuesday, covering the period from Jan. 1 through April 29. Contributions of $1,000 or more after that reporting period, from April 30 to May 13, must be reported with 48-hour reports.

Some candidates already have begun filing their pre-primary reports; you can see them here. Among those whose reports are in: Sen. Steve Vick, R-Dalton Gardens, whose nearly $13,000 in contributions included $1,000 from Rep. Bob Nonini's Idaho Association for Good Government PAC, $500 from Lorna Finman and $250 from former state Rep. Jim Clark, R-Hayden Lake; and Vick's challenger, former Sen. Mike Jorgenson, R-Hayden Lake, whose $12,000 in contributions included $1,000 from the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, $1,000 from Avondale Dental Center in Hayden, and $300 from Lake City Ford.

Among today's 48-hour reports, the Northwest Grocery Association PAC donated $1,000 apiece to eight Idaho incumbents: Sens. Keough and Winder; and Reps. Anderson, Eskridge, Moyle, Perry, Rusche and VanderWoude. Four incumbents and one newcomer got $1,000 donations from MIEC PAC, which advocates for tort reform in malpractice claims against doctors: Sens. Keough and Cameron,  Reps. Hagedorn and Thompson, and Ronald Lechelt, a Republican seeking an open House seat in District 33. Micron handed out seven $1,000 donations to Reps. Denney, Hagedorn, and Raybould and Sens. Brackett, Tippets, Davis, and Hill.

Today's latest reports also show that the Idaho Prosperity Fund, affiliated with the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry business lobbying group, has mounted two more independent expenditure campaigns in legislative races: It spent $1,900 on a mailing and advertising in support of District 1 GOP incumbents Anderson, Keough and Eskridge; and $3,500 on a mailing and advertising on behalf of Sen. John Tippets, R-Bennington, who faces a primary challenge from R. Scott Workman of Preston. That's in addition to the group's earlier expenditures on behalf of Sen. Bert Brackett, R-Rogerson, who's facing off with fellow GOP Sen. Tim Corder of Mountain Home.

The latest last-minute campaign contributions…

Here are today's 48-hour notices of last-minute campaign contributions of $1,000 or more for the May 15 primary in legislative races:  Blue Cross of Idaho gave $1,000 each to Sen. John Tippets, R-Bennington, and Rep. George Eskridge, R-Dover; Micron Technology gave $1,000 to appointed Sen. Jim Rice, R-Caldwell; Simplot Corp. donated $1,000 to House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star; and Tom LeClaire, a candidate in a three-way GOP primary for an open House seat in District 20, reported putting $1,000 of his own money into his campaign.

In addition, The Idaho Realtors PAC reported an independent expenditure of $1,350 on a campaign mailing in support of Robert Anderst of Nampa, who's in a three-way race for an open House seat in District 12; that's on top of the $1,550 the group reported spending in support of the same candidate a day earlier.

Otter Raises $125K, Pays Self Back

Gov. Butch Otter has accelerated his campaign fundraising and used $50,000 of the cash to pay down $206,000 in loans he made to his 2010 re-election effort. Otter, who said at a December fundraiser that he will seek a third term in 2014, garnered about 70 percent of the money from corporate contributors who do business with the state or lobby state officials. Otter filed his Sunshine Report for July to December shortly before 5 p.m. Tuesday. Otter raised $124,941, well above his pace in the first six months of 2011, when he raised $48,103. His campaign still owes the governor $156,000 and has $56,177 in cash. That's up from a cash balance of $10,044 in June/Dan Popkey, Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question: What do you think? Did Otter announce he'll run again in two years to raise campaign cash to pay himself back? Or is he really going to run in two years?


Read more here: http://voices.idahostatesman.com/2012/02/01/idahopolitics/idaho_gov_otter_raises_125k_second_half_2011_repays_himself_50k#storylink=cpy

Labrador puts wife on campaign payroll, says move saves money for ‘frugal’ campaign

Freshman Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador has put his wife, Becca, on his campaign payroll with a monthly salary - a practice that, while legal, has drawn much criticism since a 2006 congressional scandal. Labrador defends it, saying he has “the most frugal campaign in the state.”

In 2007, the House voted to ban campaign payments to congressional spouses other than reimbursement for travel expenses, but the bill died in the Senate. The issue came under scrutiny in 2006 after then-Rep. John Doolittle, R-Calif., was discovered to be paying his wife Julie, a professional fundraiser, a 15 percent commission on all contributions to his leadership PAC and additional commissions on fundraising for his campaign, adding up to close to $140,000 between 2003 and 2006. He abandoned the practice the next year, and after being investigated in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, left office in 2010.

Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo was among those who subsequently came under scrutiny from the press and watchdog groups for paying his wife, Susan, $78,514 between 2000 and 2006, for everything from organizing campaign events to driving the senator to them. Crapo still pays his wife for campaign work for both his leadership PAC, the Freedom Fund, and his campaign, spokesman Lindsay Nothern said. However, his campaign finance reports for the past year show no payments to Susan Crapo; his PAC reports show she was paid $4,677 from Jan. 1 to July 31 this year, mostly for expense reimbursements and gift bags she prepared for donors.

Labrador has paid his wife a $2,050 monthly salary since May to keep the campaign's books and submit FEC reports; under FEC rules, members of Congress can pay spouses through their campaigns or PACs - though not through their congressional offices - as long as they provide “bona fide services” and the payments reflect the fair market value of the services.

Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen, a watchdog group that focuses on campaign finance and consumer issues, said the practice long has been common, but said, “It still raises ethical concerns, because that means some of the campaign money is going directly into the family pockets.” Those funds include money from PACS and lobbyists pushing for the members' attention on pending issues.
  

The other two members of Idaho's congressional delegation, 2nd District Rep. Mike Simpson and Sen. Jim Risch, don't pay their spouses for campaign work. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
  

PACs, Business Fund Idaho Warchests

The Idaho AARP has issued a new report on campaign contributions in Idaho, concluding that corporations, businesses and PACS spent $2.7 million on Idaho's winning 2010 campaigns for governor, lieutenant governor and state Legislature; that 35 percent of those contributions came from outside Idaho; and that 34 legislators received 90 percent or more of their campaign contributions from those groups - including seven for whom it was 100 percent. The report also showed that nearly 90 percent of lawmakers got the majority of their campaign funds from corporations, businesses and PACs/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. And: George Prentice/Boise Weekly here. And: Dan Popkey's Idaho Statesman story here.

Question: What do you make of this AARP study that shows outside PACs & corporate interests provide majority of funding for many Idaho politicians?

AARP: Lawmakers ignore voices of older voters, campaign finance reforms needed

The Idaho AARP has issued a new report on campaign contributions in Idaho, concluding that corporations, businesses and PACS spent $2.7 million on Idaho's winning 2010 campaigns for governor, lieutenant governor and state Legislature; that 35 percent of those contributions came from outside Idaho; and that 34 legislators received 90 percent or more of their campaign contributions from those groups - including seven for whom it was 100 percent. The report also showed that nearly 90 percent of lawmakers got the majority of their campaign funds from corporations, businesses and PACs.

Idaho AARP State Director Jim Wordelman said the group was disappointed with the Legislature's lack of response to AARP members' concerns, including finding new revenues to address the state budget shortfall, such as closing business tax loopholes, rather than cutting programs; and protecting the wishes of dying patients from being overridden by the conscience concerns of medical providers. “The outcomes of this past legislative session left many AARP members believing that Idaho has a golden rule, and that is, those who have the gold make the rules,” Wordelman said. “When the most powerful voting group in Idaho, voters aged 50 and older, feels that their voices and issues are ignored by state lawmakers, we've got an issue of public confidence in the system.”

The seniors group is calling for requiring Idaho candidates to raise the majority of their campaign funds from individuals living in their districts; limiting contributions to and by PACs; and limiting contributions to state political parties. You can see the AARP's full report here, and its statement here.

Allred amending campaign disclosure

Here’s a news item from the Associated Press:  BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Keith Allred is amending his campaign’s disclosures to include an in-kind contribution worth $3,000 to $4,000 for work done by the Boise-based business consulting firm he joined this week as a partner. Employees at HB Ventures conducted an analysis around March to examine how far Idaho’s economy had fallen behind neighboring states — and why it had slipped in the rankings. But Allred, who lost to Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, didn’t report the contribution. Allred said Wednesday he was filing new paperwork, to correctly account for the in-kind contribution. Allred wasn’t the only candidate to make a disclosure mistake in the 2010 Idaho elections, with 1st Congressional District candidates Raul Labrador and Vaughn Ward both forced to amend filings, too. Click below for a full report from AP reporter John Miller.

Democrats want probe of AFPWA spending

Washington state Democrats want the Public Disclosure Commission to go after a group that spent money against some of their legislative candidates but hasn’t revealed where the money comes from.

They filed a complaint today against Americans For Prosperity Washington, an offshoot of the national Americans For Prosperity, for campaign ads against Sens. Tracie Eide, Rodney Tom, Eric Oemig and Randy Gordon. The group has yet to file any contribution or spending reports or registration forms with the Public Disclosure Commission.

“This organization is purposely concealing who they are and who their funders are,” state Democratic Party Chairman Dwight Pelz said. “In effect, these efforts amount to creating a secret political organization spending hudreds of thousands of dollars attempting to influence our elections and mislead the voting public.”

The state is currently investigation possible sanctions against Democratic consultants for filing misleading reports that hid the source of funding for candidates in a primary that helped knock out a Democratic incumbent that labor unions opposed, Pelz said. It also should go after a group like AFPWA for filing no reports.

How about a little honesty in PAC naming?

Here’s a modest proposal on campaign finance reform that might meet constitutional muster with the U.S. Supreme Court: Let’s have a truth-in-labeling law that requires political committees to say what they really are up to.

Democrats got in trouble last week – potentially big enough trouble to void an election – while playing the old “hide the hit money behind nice-sounding PACs” game in a Snohomish County legislative race. They’re facing sanctions for deliberately not reporting the money and hiding the donors to a conservative state Senate candidate, all part of an effort to whipsaw a moderate incumbent Democrat the unions didn’t like.

Not reporting the donors on time could result in big fines. But the part of their scheme that’s annoying but perfectly legal is the regular practice of giving money to one nice-sounding PAC, then moving it into a second nice-sounding PAC, and concealing for a short time whom the money is coming from. Thus the commercials say this ad paid for by Very Concerned Citizens for Great Communities, funded by Concerned Citizens for Very Great Communities.

Or something like that. There are dozens of these shadow PACs, set up by Democrats and Republicans, every year. How about a law that says they must say what they really are, like Unions Trying to Defeat Sen. Schmoe or Businesses Against Rep. Snerd.

It would be so much easier for the voters to tell who’s spending the big bucks to sway their vote, and let them judge for themselves if those unions or businesses are really concerned citizens interested in great communities. And yes, I know that hiding things from the voters is the whole point of these PACs, but does freedom of speech include the right to be sneaky?