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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

Party goes negative so Otter doesn’t have to

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter likes to say he doesn't go negative - all his TV campaign ads are positive and are about him, not his opponent. But there have been plenty of negative ads airing targeting Otter's Democratic challenger, Keith Allred, thanks to a $400,000 infusion this month from the Republican Governors Association to the Idaho Republican Party, which then aired the anti-Allred ads. Both are different versions of the same message: That by saying all options are on the table for reviewing "special interest" tax exemptions, Allred's really said he's going to tax everything from child care to church bake sales, a contention he rejects.

"The Idaho Republican Party has a very good working relationship with the Republican Governors Association," said Jonathan Parker, Idaho GOP executive director. "They were very supportive of the party and obviously wanted to see Gov. Otter handily re-elected, so they chose to invest some resources in the state party to help us get the governor re-elected." He added, "What we did as an independent expenditure was completely apart from the governor's office, there was no coordination, they didn't even know it was coming - legally they can't." The RGA is flush this year, Parker said, due to successful fundraising efforts by its chairman, Haley Barbour, that left the group with close to $60 million in the bank in September.

Said Parker, "They were just looking for places to spend it."

According to the Idaho GOP's latest campaign finance report, the RGA gave it $200,000 on Oct. 4 and another $200,000 on Oct. 8. So far, the party's spent $349,530 on independent expenditures in support of Otter, all paid to companies in Washington, D.C. and Virginia, apparently for the TV ad campaign. Asked if something more is coming with the remaining $50,470, Parker said, "Possibly so, yes," and referenced "things that are currently in the works."

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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