A.J. Balukoff, the Democratic candidate for governor, says GOP Gov. Butch Otter’s handling of a troubled $60 million broadband contract shows “incompetence,” and is calling on Otter to “come clean” on the deal, after reports today that state officials negotiating with Syringa Networks over the deal have been attempting to secure a secrecy agreement.
“Gov. Otter’s incompetence in his role as guardian of taxpayer dollars is shocking,” Balukoff said in a news release today. “But even worse, he has never explained to the people of Idaho how and why this contract was awarded to a campaign donor in violation of state law. Before asking voters to give him a third term in office, he needs to come clean on that. This case fails the smell test badly.”
The $60 million contract was awarded in 2009 to Qwest, now CenturyLink, and Education Networks of America, which new campaign finance reports show donated $5,000 to Otter’s campaign this year. But those weren’t the first ENA donations to Otter; records filed with the Idaho Secretary of State show ENA has donated $18,250 to Otter’s campaigns since 2006. That included $5,000 in October of 2006; $1,000 in 2009; $2,000 in 2010; $1,250 in 2012; and $4,000 in 2013. Add in the $5,000 that ENA donated on Sept. 26 of this year, and it comes to a total $18,250.
Otter’s campaign spokesman couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. Balukoff’s full news release is online here; Idaho Education News reporter Kevin Richert, who scrutinized the most recent campaign finance reports filed last week and noted the September donation, has a full report here.