Follow the Money

By Seth Ogilvie

If money truly drives elections, we wanted to give you an idea of who is attempting to “buy” Idaho’s First Congressional District.

Over $1.2 million has flown into the campaign coffers of the six major Republican candidates. Much of that money has come from out of state and the candidates themselves.

It can be hard to visualize how a campaign is being financed when you’re staring at endless spreadsheets, so we built up some maps to show where the money is coming from.

We’ll start at the top of the list with the runaway winner in the 2018 money war: Former state senator Russ Fulcher.

Fulcher Contributions

Fulcher raised over $435,000, and that number has most likely increased since his last filing. The largest donations come from the Club For Growth, the House Freedom Fund and a $35,000 loan Fulcher gave himself.

As you can see from the heat map, Fulcher had strong monetary support in Idaho, but he also received a significant amount of contributions from outside the state.

Fulcher is also in the lead with the amount of money he hasn’t yet spent. His current cash on hand totals over $82,000.

Former lieutenant governor David Leroy was next, with almost $332,000.

Leroy Contributions

Almost a third of Leroy’s money came out of his own pocket — about $100,000. Leroy did not receive the large PAC donations that Fulcher did. The majority of his money came from individual citizens.

His most substantial contributor was actually his campaign treasurer, Richard Howard, who donated over $9,000. He was able to exceed the $2,700 limit because they were in-kind contributions — in other words, Howard donated his accounting services.

Leroy still has almost $55,000 on hand.

Rep. Luke Malek finished third in the fundraising race with nearly $250,000.

Malek Contributions

 

Malek donated less the 10% of the total money his campaign raised. The one-time $24,000 donation he made did, however, came late in the campaign, on April 20.  

The majority of the rest of the money came from individual donations, with a few groups like the Coeur d’Alene Tribe and the Simplot Company PAC sprinkled in with large contributions.

Malek has spent almost all his money and currently has about $2,700 on hand.

Michael Snyder rounded out the over-$100K club.

Snyder Contributions

Snyder put in less than 5% of the roughly $124,000 he raised. The big story of Snyder’s money is that it came from out of state. Of his top 10 itemized contributions, only one came from Idaho.

This is not surprising, as Snyder is a prominent conservative author and broadcast personality that may actually be better known outside of Idaho.

Snyder still has about $24,500 on hand.

Lt. Col. Alexander Gallegos surprised a few political gadflies by finishing fifth in fundraising with over $70,000.

Gallegos Contributions

Gallegos, like Snyder, mined his out-of-state contacts for contributions. Gallegos has strong military ties, and it shows in this map, with large amounts of money coming from military communities.

Gallegos donated less than 7% of the total money to his campaign in the form of loans. His most significant contributor was a self-employed commercial contractor living in California, who donated the maximum for both the primary and general totaling $5,400.

Gallegos still has about $28,500 on hand.

Coming in last in the money race among the major candidates was “the girl with all the guns,” Rep. Christy Perry.

Perry Contributions

In Perry’s latest filling, she only received 17 itemized contributions, including a $1,000 gift from her husband.

Perry raised less than $16,000. To put that in context, Perry managed to raise almost double that — over $30,000 — in her last state legislative primary in 2016. If you add up the money Perry and her husband put into this campaign, it makes up almost a third of the total.

Perry currently has about $3,700 on hand.

If it was just money that won elections, the race would already be over. But it’s not. Votes cast by people like you win elections. So whoever you’re supporting, get out there on Tuesday and vote for your favorite candidate, whether they raised a few thousand dollars or almost half a million. The choice is still in your hands — and that’s the great thing about democracy.

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Primary Concerns

By Devon Downey

Days before the primary election, candidates are being pulled from the ballot and then returned, and an investigation was reported as opened, closed, and then possibly opened again into a major gubernatorial candidate. All these things were initiated by the office of the Idaho Secretary of State — the person charged with maintaining fair and open elections.

Over the past few days, the Secretary of State’s office has lost one case disqualifying a candidate, basically withdrew from a second one, and then made a Comey-like announcement about the Ahlquist campaign.

Regardless of the intent, Secretary of State Lawerence Denney’s office has affected multiple elections, doing possible harm to former Reps. Phil Hart and Kathy Sims’ campaigns, as well as Dr. Tommy Ahlquist’s gubernatorial run.  Both Hart and Sims have been disadvantaged by the legal uncertainty of their campaigns, with ballots already having been cast which excluded both of them.

Denney said that voters who mailed absentee ballots should be able to request a new ballot and have their old one spoiled, as long as the clerk can verify the ballot belongs to the voter. Those who voted early in person are not able to get a new ballot. At the time of posting, District 3 where Sims is running, has had 384 absentee votes turned in and 166 in-person early votes. Hart’s District 7 has had 261 absentee votes and 240 in-person early votes. Not all of these ballots had their names crossed out, but there are probably ballots that did.

Both Denney and Deputy Secretary of State Tim Hurst maintain that these candidates may not be legally qualified to serve in the legislature, and that those qualifications will be reexamined after the primary. This statement alone could cause voters to change their mind and not vote for Hart or Sims.

Ahlquist was on the wrong side of a very Comey-esque announcement. Just one week before the election, Hurst claimed that the campaign was under investigation for campaign finance violations, then a few hours later claimed he misspoke. During an Idaho Reports interview on Thursday, Denney clarified that the Attorney General’s office has the complaint now, but acknowledged that his office had “dropped the ball.”

However, Denney also stated that his office expected an amended campaign finance report that would have clarified some of the in-kind contributions. The investigation, not investigation, maybe investigation talk coming out of the Secretary of State’s office can’t be helpful for Ahlquist’s campaign.

Questions have been raised the past few years about election integrity and the ability of political leaders to put their thumb on the scale. These three campaigns have all been affected by the Secretary’s office.

We will never know exactly what impact the Secretary of State’s actions had on these races. All three of these elections may be close, and Denney told Idaho Reports that he is expecting to see election contests filed.

For more on this story, watch Idaho Reports at 8:00 pm Friday or online any time after the show at http://idahoptv.org/idreports and see our full interview with Secretary of State Lawerence Denney.

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Early Signs

By Devon Downey

 

 

The election has already begun, and we’re getting a sneak peek at who just might win.

Both Democrats and Republicans have seen an increase in early and absentee votes compared with 2014.

Democrats have seen their turnout increase by large margins and with some remaining unaffiliated, the trend looks even better for Dems.

The numbers have increased by 107% to 4,390. 2,002 of those votes came in Ada County, nearly matching the statewide total from the last gubernatorial election.

This presumably would be good for Mr. Balukoff, who won Ada County in the Democratic primary four years ago by nearly 60%. Winning without Ada County would be almost impossible for Balukoff; 48% of his votes in the last primary came from Ada.

Representative Jordan should be happy with the turnout numbers as well. North Idaho has seen a large increase in Democratic ballots, with over 500 more ballots coming from Latah, Kootenai, and Bonner counties, Jordan’s home base.

Higher Democratic turnout may also benefit Jordan because of her campaign’s relationship with supporters of Senator Sanders (Jordan has been endorsed by Democracy for America, which supported Sanders over Secretary Clinton in 2016, and the Sanders affiliated group Our Revolution). Sanders overwhelmingly defeated Clinton in the Idaho caucuses, partly due to historic voter participation.

Unaffiliated, Constitution, and Libertarian ballots have also been coming in at a higher rate than expected. Statewide, there has been a 66% increase in unaffiliated and third party ballots. The increase for unaffiliated voters is also focused in Ada, Latah, Kootenai, and Boundary counties.

Those voters did not grab a Republican ballot since the Republican primary is closed to all but Republicans. They either voted for Democrats or unaffiliated with a ballot mostly made up of judges.

An increase in unaffiliated votes is then assumed to be a good thing for Democrats, because even if a third of unaffiliated voters choose Democratic ballots, there will be roughly another 1,000 votes for Democrats, and none of those votes will be Republican.

Republicans have also seen an increase in absentee and early voting, but not nearly as large of a percentage change. While there are over 2,500 more Republican ballots this year so far, that is only a 17% increase from 2014 compared with the 107% increase the Dems saw.

Idaho Republicans should feel secure knowing that they still drastically outnumber Democratic votes by a rate of 4 to 1.

One interesting thing to note for the Republican voters is that while they have seen more voters turn out, many Idaho counties have actually seen a decrease in the number of votes as compared to last election cycle. Of note is Canyon County, which is a Republican stronghold.

There are 174 fewer votes cast in the county compared with last cycle. This is a small number considering that there have been over 1,500 ballots cast so far, but considering the circumstances it is a little concerning.

Unlike last cycle, the race is for an open seat which typically boosts turnout.

Many rural counties in Idaho have seen a decrease in Republican turnout, which may hurt Lt. Gov. Little, who has been courting the agricultural community. The largest increase is in Ada County, where Little, Rep. Labrador, and Dr. Ahlquist all have large bases of support.

Labrador will be trying to run up his vote total in CD1, which he has represented for almost eight years. Many of the smaller counties in CD1 have lower turnout than during the last gubernatorial election, but an increase in Latah, Kootenai, and Bonner counties will make up for those losses.

Ahlquist and Little have been heavily campaigning in eastern Idaho, hoping to run up the scorecard in more favorable areas. Ahlquist has helped develop the Twin Falls area, which could be good for his campaign.

Bonneville, Blaine, and Twin Falls counties all have seen an increase of at least 100 votes. In a race that could come down to the wire, any connection with these areas can be an advantage.

Regardless of which party you may belong to, there is positive news. Democratic enthusiasm seems high, boosted by a rare contested statewide primary and historic trends that favor the minority party in Congress.

Republicans can be happy knowing that they are not losing much ground on Democrats, even with the population increases. In just under a week we will see how these races play out, but right now it appears that excitement about the gubernatorial race is helping Idahoans become more engaged than they were four years ago.

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Threatening Words 

By Seth Ogilvie

Last week, voters across the state received The Idahoan in their mailboxes, with thousands of words penned by editors Lou Esposito and Patrick Malloy. The mailer kept the Idaho political community talking for days. Was it electioneering? Was it a newspaper?  

There’s another question hidden within the pages of The Idahoan: Did it contain a threat?

IMG_7138
“She likes to say ‘remember the gal with guns,’’ Esposito wrote about congressional candidate Rep. Christy Perry. “We say if she has her vote on other issues WE WILL HAVE TO EVENTUALLY USE OURS.”

The poor sentence structure raises questions. What does Esposito want to use? Votes, or guns?

Perry took the statement as a threat. “The nasty and seemingly threatening comments made about me and other candidates put forth by that libertarian rag are perfect examples of what is wrong with Congress right now- lack of truthfulness, leadership, and civility,” said Perry, who is running for Congressional District 1. “It is insulting to the public-they deserve better.”

The comments came in an editorial titled “We Endorse Russ Fulcher for U.S. Representative, District 1.” The column said the usual nice things about Fulcher, and negative things about the other male candidates in the race, but reserved the “seemingly threatening comments,” as Perry said, for the only woman in the race.

Idaho Reports has reached out to Esposito and the Idahoan for clarification on the endorsement, but has not received comment.

But ambiguous writing and poor usage isn’t the only trouble The Idahoan has seen since landing in mailboxes last week.

Capture

The Idaho Democratic Party has asked for an investigation by the Secretary of State’s office into the legal legitimacy of the newspaper. The question: Is it a newspaper protected by the First Amendment, or an electioneering pamphlet made to look like a newspaper?

The Democratic Party has also asked Secretary of State Lawerence Denney to recuse himself due to his relationship with Esposito. In 2011, Denney, then speaker of the house, appointed Esposito to the state redistricting commission. He also donated $10,000 of House Leadership fund money to Esposito’s Gun PAC in 2012.

Then there is the Idaho Freedom Foundation involvement. Freedom Index ratings are displayed throughout The Idahoan, and advertisements for the Freedom Foundation appear multiple times.

IMG_7139

“I saw the newspaper and the ads after it hit mailboxes,” said Wayne Hoffman, president of the Idaho Freedom Foundation. “They didn’t need my permission. All our stuff is public domain anyhow.”

That would mean your blog, newspaper, skateboard or any other object could also proudly display the Idaho Freedom Foundation logo without legal repercussions.

Then there’s the name. In 2007 Hoffman started a business called The Idahoan. Here is the filing:

Idahoan

You might notice Hoffman lists himself as editor and publisher, roles that Malloy and Esposito fill for the current incarnation of the paper.

But as of today, “I didn’t have any involvement in The Idahoan, its production, endorsements, funding or any other aspect of the publication,” Hoffman said.

Finding out if The Idahoan is a newspaper or a political expenditure could take some time. As for the “nasty” comment, you be the judge.

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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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Across the Aisle

By Seth Ogilvie

Lieutenant governor candidate Rep. Kelley Packer received a financial endorsement from House Assistant Minority Leader Ilana Rubel.

“We don’t always agree,” Rubel told Idaho Reports, “but I respect her.”

Rubel

A who’s who of Republican lawmakers surround the $100 donation from Rubel on Packer’s most recent financial disclosure. Reps. Caroline Nilsson-Troy, Rick Youngblood, Eric Redman, Dell Raybould, Maxine Bell, Neil Anderson, Mike Kingsley, and Steve Miller joined Rubel on the contribution list.

Republicans giving money to Republicans, however, is no surprise. But a Democratic House leader?

Rubel said she was interested in helping out what she thought was the best Republican for the job. “There are only a few people on that side of the aisle that I wouldn’t mind in office,” said Rubel, “and she is one of them.

The contribution came to light as Democrats have been picking sides in their own legislative and statewide primaries. Notably, Rubel has not endorsed either A.J. Balukoff or Paulette Jordan, choosing to stay neutral in a contentious gubernatorial primary battle. (Rubel is one of the few lawmakers who hasn’t endorsed. Twelve of the 17 Democratic lawmakers have endorsed Balukoff.)

Rubel’s bipartisan work has stood out in the House. She worked with Rep. Christy Perry on mandatory minimum legislation and Rep. Steven Harris on civil asset forfeiture reform.

In the last days of the 2018 legislative session, Rubel stood up to debate in support of Perry and Packer’s attempts to resurrect Gov. Butch Otter’s dual waiver health care proposal.

“I hold (Packer) in high esteem,” said Rubel. “She has displayed courage and civility in a place that doesn’t always have either.”

Rubel said she has not donated to any other Republicans this year.

Packer has managed to raise $25,586.29 this election cycle, the vast majority coming from her fellow Republicans. As of Thursday morning, hers was the only campaign finance form uploaded in the lieutenant governor race, except for former candidate Rebecca Arnold, who dropped out earlier this spring and raised no money.

Rubel told Idaho Reports that those partisan lines would be redrawn this fall. “I will support the Democratic candidate in the general election,” she said.

But for now, she’s happy to support her colleague across the aisle. “On the Republican side, she would bring the most credentials to the office,” Rubel said.

 

 

Corrected May 3rd at 2:22 PM: A previous version of this story said Rep. Steven Miller cosponsored civil asset forfeiture reform.

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She’s got a ticket to ride, and everyone cares

By Seth Ogilvie

Vicky McIntyre wants to be the next treasurer of Idaho, which would make her the chief financial officer and banker of the state.

But she’s been accused of having trouble accounting for her own financial transactions as Ada County Treasurer, and it’s not the first time.

McIntyre has been in the news before. She misplaced a check in 2015 that led to a $19,000 settlement and recently she attempted to get paid for taxi rides that Ada County has already paid, but those incidents could have been honest mistakes. Scott Logan of KBOI-TV and Cynthia Sewell of the Idaho Statesman have comprehensive coverage of that.

Two of the transactions that happened earlier this year, however, are harder to explain away as a simple mistake. One purchase was for an NHL hockey in Las Vegas. The other was for a ride on a 550 foot tall Ferris wheel.

McIntyre told the Idaho Reports on Thursday the hockey tickets were offered as part of the annual Government Investment Officers Association conference, which took place  March 21-23 this year. The tickets were put on her county credit card. “I got an email from the conference asking me to attend,” McIntyre told Idaho Reports on Thursday. She could not immediately produce the email.

“I didn’t intentionally use it for something I didn’t think was appropriate,” McIntyre said.

The tickets were not accidentally added on to the bill for the conference. McIntyre didn’t pay for the conference on her county card; Rather, used a voucher from the county to pay for it. Yet she paid for the hockey tickets on the county credit card, and the hockey tickets were not related to participation in the conference.

Jennifer Felger, executive director of the Las Vegas-based Government Investment Officers Association, told Idaho Reports on Wednesday the hockey game was a “separate event not included in conference.” Tickets were separate, meaning McIntyre would have had to consciously buy them — which she says she did.

In the event description of the conference, there is no reference to a hockey game. The only conference event being held on the day of the hockey game was early registration and there was no official conference activity.

On Jan. 16th, McIntyre received a voucher from the county totaling $175.00 to pay for her conference fees. She said that money was put on her county card to pay for the conference. Here is the document:

Treasurer's Travel Voucher 412380_Page_1

Fourteen days after McIntyre received the voucher, she purchased the hockey tickets. The receipt does not show a charge for the conference, lining up with Felger’s statement that the two events were separate. Here is that document:

Personal CC Utilization_Page_1
The two transactions were different things. The conference was an approved purchase authorized by the county. The voucher document proves that. McIntyre told Idaho Reports that a similar voucher document should exist for the hockey game, and that the purchase couldn’t have been made without the voucher.

Idaho Reports requested all documents related to the credit card purchases and travel, and did not receive any documents showing a voucher for a hockey game.

“There is no voucher for the hockey game, as it was a credit card transaction,” said Ada County Clerk Chris Rich. “The credit card can be used without a voucher, and the county is stuck with the bill, even if the purchase was not approved or appropriate.”

“They are probably not giving you all the documents,” McIntyre said when asked about the discrepancy.

Rich disagreed. “She and her office are the originators of those documents,” he told Idaho Reports on Friday. “We simply review them, and we have turned everything we have over to you. We would never knowingly withhold documents.”

According to the Ada County Accounting Handbook “purchase of personal items are strictly prohibited.” It continues, “reimbursement for alcohol, cigars, entertainment, etc., is strictly prohibited.”

The milage and the timing are also important here, as McIntyre bought the tickets two months before going to Las Vegas. She bought the tickets online after receiving an email from the Government Investment Officers Association. McIntyre says she purposely bought the tickets on the government card. It was no accident.

McIntyre also purchased tickets to take a ride on the LINQ High Roller Ferris Wheel, costing $104.00 on her public credit card. According to the current price list, it looks like the ride was at night. According to the documents, she brought a guest, and the ride had an open bar.

WHAT ARE THE TICKET PRICES?

  • Daytime ride ticket: $25
  • Nighttime ride ticket: $37
  • Youth pricing (ages 4-12): $10 daytime ride, $20 nighttime ride. Children 3 and under are free!
  • Happy Half Hour – Day: $40, includes ride with open bar
  • Happy Half Hour – Night: $52, includes ride with open bar

That transaction was processed via the Ada County accounting system on March 23rd. Take a look:

Personal CC Utilization_Page_3

McIntyre and a woman identified in documents as Beth reimbursed the county for that High Roller ride. (McIntyre has not reimbursed the county for the hockey game.) Regardless, personal purchases of any type with public money is against the rules reimbursed or not.

McIntyre has been asked to surrender her credit card. She has refused.

“Every department has things like this,” McIntyre said. “They’re just coming after me.”

“When things don’t align, it is my job to point out where things are wrong or could use improvement,” Rich said. “My office and I do that for the entire county — my office included. It is my job, and at times, it is not popular.”

The Idaho Debates where McIntyre addressed these issues with her Republican opponents Julie A. Ellsworth and Tom Kealey can be watched right here if you can’t get enough treasurer information.

 

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