Come as you are, as I want you to be

 

PJ (1 of 1)By Seth Ogilvie, Idaho Reports

Bob Sojka has had a complicated month. Lately, he and the Democratic Party have had two particularly interesting moments.

The incidents both involved influential female leaders.

Sojka is the State Committeeman for the Twin Falls Democratic Party. At a Sunday picnic sponsored by the party, gubernatorial candidate Paulette Jordan made an appearance.

According to the Times-News, Sojka told the crowd “this is the prom,” referring to the event, “and the prom queen is here,” referring to Jordan.

At the Idaho Democratic Convention Sojka walked to a microphone and told several women and people of color “we deserve an apology.”

Sojka’s demand came after he argued with one of the organizers of Boise’s immigration rally. Thousands of people marched to the steps of the Idaho Statehouse to demand changes to the current immigration policy in the wake of child detention and family separation.

The majority of people at the convention supported the protest but not necessarily their goals. The rally happened just hours before Sojka’s demand.

The Sojka “prom queen” statement could quickly be written off as an innocent comment of an older white man not realizing how it might come across, but that’s the point. Sojka didn’t have to merge his theoretical embrace of diversity with its reality. He didn’t have to unite his support of the protests with what he would be supporting.

A prom queen is traditionally elected based on two criteria, popularity or beauty. Their duties consist of getting their photos taken and serving as an emblem for a high school. They are not vested with or expected to perform any significant responsibilities, nor are they elected for their ability or their character.

The prom queen and king also reinforce strict gender roles. The crown confers that the recipient is either male or female other options are not available.

We reached out to Bob Sojka multiple times over the last month. He has not returned any messages.

Twitter, however, had no problem commenting.

Screen Shot 2018-07-21 at 12.43.21 PMScreen Shot 2018-07-21 at 12.41.57 PM

“I think that it’s a pretty superficial term for a woman that has held office,” Caitlin Copple Masingill, a precinct captain for the Idaho Democrats told Idaho Reports. “This was something to call out.”

Copple was concerned about the repercussions of a statement like this. “It takes a woman being asked an average 12 times before they’ll agree to run,” Copple said. “I think this will make them more hesitant because, with comments like these, it’s that much harder to be taken seriously.”

Sojka may not have realized how the comments would come across, but he had to have had an intention of saying it. We have found no instances of Sojka referring to A.J. Balukoff, Keith Allred or Jerry Brady as the prom king.

He could have said the next Governor of the State of Idaho (a fairly common practice). He could have said the parties leader, he could have even said the new Idaho matriarch if Sojka was determined to inject gender, but he didn’t.

That brings us back to the idea of the emblem. For a straight white man in Idaho, it’s easy to like the idea of diversity. It is easy because, for many Idahoans, it’s theoretical. It’s not uncommon for people in Boise, a supposed hotbed of liberalism, to go an entire day without knowingly talking to a person of color or a person from the LGBTQ community.

Without familiarity, it’s easy to transpose one’s ideas, values, and desires onto the blank canvass of that other individual. A Native American woman can be perceived as the same as that straight white man as long as they stay theoretical, as long as all of their hopes, dreams, values, and abilities remain unknown.

Conversely, people can be vilified without familiarity. We’ve seen it throughout history in racist or xenophobic ideology.

At the Idaho Democratic Convention Jennifer Martinez introduced an amendment to the Democratic body that would support the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The debate was heated. The majority of the people in the room wanted to support the protests going on that same day. They didn’t want children separated from their parents. They knew the compassionate, and moral thing to do was to stand up for these families, and they wanted to be on the side of the protestors, but the demonstrators had aims.

They did not support what Martinez, one of the event organizers, said was the aim of the protests.

Their aims were the abolition of ICE and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). These aims were not popular with the majority of the people in the room. The protest like the prom queen would be more appealing for some without the ideological baggage.

An argument broke out at the convention. One side wanted to support the protestors, but not the aims to abolish ICE and CBP.  Sojka joined that side. The others claimed you couldn’t support a protest without supporting the goals of the rally.

After several minutes of debate, Martinez’s amendment died.

Jessica Chilcott took the microphone after the vote. “We had a chance to be an ally to communities of color, and we rejected it. If we’re going to, as a room full of white people claim that we’re allies for people of color, we should try to act like it.”

Chilcott put a spotlight on the issue Democrats in Idaho are facing. Being theoretically in favor of diversity is different from accepting diversity for what it is.

The Idaho Democratic party has always marketed itself as tolerant, accepting and as a big tent. The Democratic party has always promoted diversity, but this year diversity has had a voice, diversity had ideas, and diversity had goals.

Woman and minorities have taken up the highest positions in the party.

At the Democratic convention, delegates learned that being in favor of the idea of protests is different from being in support of their goals.

This year diversity walked into the convention and started yelling inside its walls. The diversity could no longer be theoretical, and for some, that was not what they wanted to hear.

Sojka pounced on this moment. He demanded an apology from Chilcott. He claimed Chilcott and the others arguing with him did not understand what was in his heart. “We’ve been doing things that she has absolutely no freaking knowledge of,” said Sojka.

Chilcott responded, “we don’t get to decide what they want.”

I reached out to Sojka shortly after his comments to find out what they had “absolutely no freaking knowledge of.” He has not returned my request for comment.

Idaho Reports has also reached out to the Jordan campaign who also has not returned my request for comment.

Chilcott had little doubt what the performance meant. “There have been ongoing concerns voiced by communities of color, both locally and nationally, about how the Democratic Party expects their support without doing its best to address the issues faced by those communities,” Chilcott wrote Idaho Reports. “What I felt was happening was more performative allyship. If we will not boldly work to dismantle an abusive, racist system, what good are we as allies?”

Another delegate at the convention put it much more bluntly, looking across the floor to where Sojka had just demanded an apology. “We all need to check our privileges,” she said. “Especially the white men.”

 

Correction: A previous version of this story identified Bob Sojka as the head of the Twin Falls Democrats rather than the State Committeeman.

 

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With friends like these

By Seth Ogilvie, Idaho Reports

Last week, Republican lieutenant governor candidate Janice McGeachin made a post on Facebook. The post linked to an Idaho Politics Weekly story, and echoed a general Republican talking point about why Trump is popular: “He is keeping the promises he made to the voters…”

A few days later, the conversation went off the rails. A comment about white nationalism, a Bundy sympathizer, outrage from centrists and a candidate trying to keep everyone happy pulled the conversation into an ideological circus tent.

Thank you Bob

Bob Jackson posted “I’m proud to be white again!” to which McGeachin responded, “Thank you Bob!”

Jackson then responded back to Rep. McGeachin saying “Thank you Janice McGeachin, with your leadership we’ll take back this state!”

The first objection came from Robbie DeLeon: “Janice McGeachin Why should anyone who isn’t white vote for you after seeing these comments? If you want to represent our state you need to represent everyone, not just white conservatives.”

McGeachin did not respond or thank DeLeon, but Jackson did saying “She clearly doesn’t need your vote OR ANY OF YOUR LIBERSL BUDDIES. THIS IS IDAHO! GO RED WAVE! #MAGA or #GTFO.

The thread played out like this for almost 24 hours. Idaho Reports then contacted McGeachin, asking “Does Janice McGeachin support the sentiment ‘I’m proud to be white again?’”

“I hope the voters in Idaho know that I believe that our country should celebrate diversity,” McGeachin told Idaho Reports in an email. “My ‘thank you’ was in response to his support of Trump and my campaigns.”

McGeachin then posted a video from Eric Parker. Parker is best known for his involvement in the Bundy ranch standoff. The video compares the 1st and 2nd Amendments, and encourages people to be as disciplined with their words as they are with their firearms, stating “Stop shooting the people around you and start shooting the target.”

The video can still be found on Parker’s Facebook page.

Later Monday afternoon McGeachin deleted all the posts and the video and replaced it with this statement:

Statement McGeachin

Idaho Reports reached out to Jackson and received this statement shortly after the thread was deleted. We’ve copied and pasted it without editing. Warning: There is profanity.

“I’m so mad I’m shakin. She posts about why Trump is getting support and I thank her, she thanks me, then all hell brakes lose. I ask sone of my millitia buddies to push back on the hate I was getting then next thing u know bitch tells me to watch myself and I’m getting beat up by Eric Parker himself for saying things he says all the time. Check FB him and me are/were friends. Now his goons are telling me I’m not wrong, just whatch where I post. Anyway it looks like its over because the bitch deleted my post and put me in FB jail so I can’t post comments to her stuff. McGeachin has no integrity. Can’t support the second while wiping your feet on the first or something like that.”

Idaho Reports cannot verify several of the claims Jackson makes in this statement. We reached out to McGeachin about Jackson’s comments and she declined to comment.

Below is the entire thread for context:

 

 

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A Total Election Miscommunication

This week the state’s highest elections office wrote letters to the most powerful political players alleging they had broken the law. The recipients may face fines for supposed campaign finance violations, but those letters could be going to innocent groups and people.

It’s 13 days after a critical campaign finance deadline. That number will be unlucky for 12 PACs and three people who face allegations by the state that they didn’t properly disclose the money they spent.

It’s not clear, however, whose at fault.

Several high-profile PACs, as late as June 27, appeared to be in violation of Idaho campaign finance laws, according to the Secretary of State’s office. The Idaho Realtors PAC who raised $651,518 and spent $259,611 in this year’s primary is the highest profile group that has been accused of violating state law by the elections office.

The Idaho Realtors PAC was one of the biggest spenders in the primary election. Cutting large checks for independent expenditures in favor of Lt. Gov. Brad Little, who was running as a gubernatorial candidate.

The filing deadline was June 14.

PACs and individuals could face a $50-a-day fine for their tardiness. Yet, “our goal is to get disclosure rather than to balance the budget on fine money,” said Deputy Secretary of State Tim Hurst to Idaho Reports Tuesday. “So we may coddle the candidates and PACs more than we should.”

The Idaho Realtors were not the only pro-Brad Little PAC who missed the June 14 deadline. The Agriculture & Natural Resources Industry PAC who raised $22,060 and spent $16,623, which included donations to Little, will also be receiving a fine letter. 

Many of the letter recipients may be confused when they open their mailbox.

Idaho Reports reached out to the Secretary of State’s office at 11:30 am on Tuesday with a list of PACs whose reports did not appear on the state’s website. Hurst responded in an email by saying “The PAC’s listed below have (y)et to file their post-primary reports. It has not yet been determined if a fine will be imposed.”

Idaho Reports then reached out to the six PACs Hurst said had not reported. Several did not respond.  Others disputed the idea that they had not reported.  

Sue Wigdorski, the treasurer for the Political Action Committee for Education, told Idaho Reports “I think you may not have the correct report. We did file on time.”

“The issue will be resolved by tomorrow at the latest,” wrote Max Pond of the Idaho Realtors to Idaho Reports in an email on Tuesday. The realtors have “a history of always accurately reporting and, in some cases, over-reporting. We will continue to do so.”

Around 3:30 pm, Hurst started to change the story. Idaho Reports had earlier asked about the Senate Democratic Caucus report. “Lisa told me the Senate Democratic Caucus has filed,” Hurst responded to Idaho Reports inquiry. “She is checking to see why it wasn’t posted and will get it there.”

At that same time, the secretary of state’s office began posting reports on the website which was 12 days after the deadline. Every sunshine disclosure pointed out by Idaho Reports had been posted by 4:00 pm except the Idaho Realtors PAC and the Senate Democratic caucus.

Idaho Reports asked Hurst if his previous statement that the PACs had yet to file was still accurate. Hurst said “the statement is no longer accurate. I just checked again with our campaign finance people who told me the reports for PACE (Political Action Committee for Education), Agriculture & Natural Resources Industry PAC, Idaho Wheat and Barley PAC, and IAFF Local I-83 Political Action Committee were received today.”

The reports are time stamped by the Secretary of State’s office. Two of the filings are in fact time stamped June 26, the day Hurst claimed. Two are not. Take a look:

IAFFPACEBarleyAG&NAT

A little after 4:00 pm on Tuesday, Idaho Reports received an email from Dorothy Canary of the Secretary of State’s office.

“We have received all of the reports that you listed except for Realtors PAC,” Canary said, “The fine letter went out in today’s mail so the fine will begin on June 28th of $50.00 dollars a day until the report is received in our office per Idaho Code 67-6625A.”

The realtors were not the only people to receive this letter. Several PACs that had already filed the 30-day report will also be receiving the message. Here is the list and status of all recipients as of Wednesday morning:

AIA Idaho Political Action Committee (No 30-day Report), Idaho Democratic Latino Caucus (No 30-day Report), Idaho Social List (Reported), Meridian Firefighters IAFF Local 4627 (Nothing reported this cycle), Opportunity Idaho Committee (Reported), Realtors PAC (No 30-day Report), Agriculture & Natural Resources Industry PAC (Reported), Idaho Wheat & Barley PAC (Reported), Fair Share Idaho (No 30-day Report), Keep Idaho Elections Accountable, Liberty Shoot (Nothing reported this cycle), Local 5005 Worley Firefighters PAC (No 30-day Report).

Three individuals who ran for elected office should also be checking their mail; Dalton B Cannady (No 30-day Report), LeeJoe Lay (Reported), Jay Waters III (Nothing reported this cycle).

“Prior to send(ing) out fine letters to those who missed the filing deadline,” Hurst said. “Our office calls and e-mails the various treasurers who have not filed reminding them to get their reports in.”

Despite the calls and emails there still appears to be some significant miscommunication in the process. Multiple people on the above list will receive a letter despite having already filed their 30-day report, and almost two weeks after the deadline there is still a slim chance of fines.

“This is a total miscommunication on my behalf,” Pond told Idaho Reports. “We will be in compliance today. I have successfully uploaded the documents.”

Shortly before this story published The Idaho Realtors PAC 30-day report appeared on the Secretary of States website.

 

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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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