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Eye On Boise

‘Citizens for HJR 5’ raises $113K+ from elected officials, lobbying groups…

So, who are the “Citizens for HJR 5”? The group just began fundraising on Sept. 30 of this year, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Idaho Secretary of State. Its treasurer is Travis Hawkes, managing partner at Riverwood Strategies in Eagle, which also is consulting on the campaigns this year of U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo and U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson. The firm lists among its other clients the Sun Valley Film Festival, Marco Rubio, The Romney Group, Gardner Co., Butch Otter’s gubernatorial campaign, the Petroleum Association of Wyoming, and the campaign of Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead.

The “citizens” who have donated thus far consist almost entirely of elected officials, nearly all GOP members of the Idaho Legislature, and lobbying groups or large businesses that lobby the Idaho Legislature, including Idaho Power ($5,000), Simplot ($5,000), Idaho Association of Realtors ($5,000), Micron ($5,000) and the Idaho Dairymen’s Association ($5,000).

Forty-three sitting state lawmakers, 41 of them Republicans and two Democrats (Reps. Mark Nye and Elaine Smith of Pocatello), each anted up between $250 and $1,000. The only two individuals who aren’t currently lawmakers and made donations are GOP House nominee Megan Blanksma of Hammett, and Joan Burtenshaw, wife of Rep. Van Burtenshaw, R-Terreton.

Other donors include the Idaho Irrigation Pumpers Association, $3,000; Northwest Food Processors, $2,000; Simpson for Congress, $5,000; Hecla, $2,500; Avista Corp., $2,500; Idaho Forest Group, $5,000; AgriBeef Management, $2,500; Idaho Medical Political Action Committee, $1,000; and Pacific Source, $1,000.

This is not the complete list, but you can see all the donations on the Secretary of State’s website here.

Here’s the really odd thing about these disclosure reports: They report fundraising, but no spending. According to the reports, Citizens for HJR 5 have raised $113,350 since September. The Idaho Republican Party reported receiving $56,194 from Citizens for HJR 5 on Oct. 25, and then spending that same amount the same day on an independent expenditure campaign in which it paid to mail out a postcard to Idaho voters advocating for passing HJR 5.

Tim Hurst, chief deputy secretary of state, has this explanation: The fundraising all occurred during the final reporting period, which ends Oct. 23. If the group spent more than $1,000 on an independent expenditure after that, it would have triggered a 48-hour disclosure requirement. But instead of spending the money, the group transferred it to the Idaho Republican Party, a move it didn't have to separately report. Then it was the party which had to report receiving the money, and report spending it in an independent expenditure campaign; the party did so. 

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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