The Idaho Democratic Party is demanding an investigation into the statewide mailing of a 48-page candidate endorsement publication under the title “The Idahoan,” charging that it’s “nothing more than a campaign mailer intended to sway voters before the upcoming primary elections on May 15.”
“The Idaho Democratic Party believes that certain conservative political organizations are funding The Idahoan and are attempting to circumnavigate campaign and election laws by improperly classifying The Idahoan as a newspaper,” says a letter from attorney Sam Dotters-Katz, on behalf of the party, to Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney. The letter also calls for Denney to recuse himself from the investigation, because of his past campaign dealings with one of the identified principals behind the publication, GOP campaign consultant Lou Esposito. You can read the Dems’ full letter here.
Chief Deputy Secretary of State Tim Hurst said today that Denney has received the letter. “We’re going to discuss it with the Attorney General’s office,” he said. However, as two key staffers in the Attorney General’s office are out of the office or busy with other matters today, Hurst said, those discussion likely won’t take place before Monday.
Hurst said, “We discussed it a little bit yesterday. … We had a discussion about whether or not it was a newspaper or whether it was something else. … Yesterday we were leaning toward it being a newspaper, understanding that it’s hard to say, when they say it’s the first” edition. The publication says it’s “your newspaper,” says it “will be delivered to you prior to each election cycle,” and also describes itself as “a conservative voter information periodical.”
Idaho’s Sunshine Law requires reporting of who’s responsible and how much they’ve spent when electioneering communications are sent out to voters before an election, but newspapers and periodicals are exempt from those requirements. The Idahoan features an extensive list of endorsements of far-right candidates in the May 15 primary, multiple ads for the Idaho Freedom Foundation and Idaho Chooses Life, editorials decrying certain Republican candidates as too moderate, and multiple typos, including one misidentifying the election date as May 8.