Voters across the state received a fat 48-page newsprint publication in the mail this week – mine was addressed to “resident” – calling itself “The Idahoan,” and purporting to be a newspaper that is published only right before an election – complete with endorsements of far-right candidates in the May 15 primary, multiple ads for the Idaho Freedom Foundation, editorials decrying certain Republican candidates as too moderate, a screed against urban renewal, a call to cut taxes, and multiple typos, including one misidentifying the election date as May 8.
The publication, and its accompanying website, identify longtime GOP campaign consultant Lou Esposito and Patrick Malloy as the editors and publishers, but the original filing with the Idaho Secretary of State’s office for The Idahoan was made by none other than Wayne Hoffman, now president of the Idaho Freedom Foundation.
“It used to be Wayne Hoffman’s DBA; he’s terminated that,” Idaho Secretary of State Tim Hurst said today. “The Idahoan LLC is Patrick Malloy.” According to state records, Hoffman terminated his use of the business name on April 19, the same day that Malloy filed to use the name.
Hurst said, “We’re looking to decide if it’s a newspaper like it says it is, and if it is, they’re exempt from electioneering communications” reporting requirements – which would otherwise require identification and reporting of who’s funding the voter outreach effort. Asked if a newspaper can exist that’s published only right before an election – and focused only on electioneering – Hurst said, “We’re looking at that.”
The cost to send out this large mailer statewide had to be substantial. Idaho’s much-smaller voter pamphlet, which is a pamphlet of a few pages that also is printed on newsprint and mailed out statewide when there’s a constitutional amendment on the ballot, costs about $200,000.
“The Idahoan,” in an article by Esposito on page A2, declares that it’s a “conservative voter information periodical.”