Half a million dollars of grass seed

Updated 4:04 pm, May 6th, to reflect volunteer efforts from Reclaim Idaho and the cost per signature.

By Seth Ogilvie and Melissa Davlin

Idaho will have to wait and see if the effort to get Medicaid expansion on the ballot worked, but at least we now know how much a grassroots effort can cost you: almost half a million dollars, with grass seed shipped from Washington DC.




The DC-based Fairness Project spent $474,042 trying to get Medicaid expansion on the ballot, almost all of which was spent on signature-gathering through Fieldworks LLC.

But Fieldworks employees didn’t act alone. According to Reclaim Idaho, volunteers collected approximately 43,000 signatures, meaning paid Fieldworks employees gathered the remaining 17,000.

That’s an impressive volunteer turnout, to be sure. But if that’s true, that means the Fairness Project’s money didn’t go very far. $474,042 for 17,000 signatures works out to about $27.88 per signature.

Compare that to the $45,485 spent by Reclaim Idaho for its estimated 43,000 names. That works out to $1.05 per signature.

In total, we know efforts to get Medicaid expansion on the ballot cost $519,527 between Reclaim Idaho and the Fairness Project. For 60,000 signatures, that’s $8.65 per name.

And there are still hurdles to clear. According to the last update Idaho Reports received from the Ada County Clerk’s Office circa 4:30 pm Friday, the ballot initiative had 43,981 verified signatures. That’s about 12,000 short of the needed 56,192 signatures statewide, but Ada County is still processing petitions. Though the campaign says it verified signatures as it went, the counties go through their own verification process, and the county clerks and Secretary of State are the final arbiters of that verification.


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