"Idaho's transparency websites fail in part because they do not provide any information on the recipients of economic development subsidies. Additionally, Idaho does not link to tax expenditure reports from its portal."Following the Money 2015
—U.S. PIRG "Following the Money 2015"
"Idaho, North and South Dakota and the majority of the New England states—Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont—are perceived to be the least corrupt states."While academic studies wrestle with the problem of how to measure and define government corruption, a few experts have noted how the Internet and access to government information is changing public perceptions about it.
—"Measuring Illegal and Legal Corruption in American States: Some Results from the Corruption in America Survey," Dec. 1, 2014
A 5th District Court judge in Twin Falls has ruled in the matter of the who exactly is the chairman of the Idaho Republican Party.
The verdict is: The party doesn't have a chairman.
Judge Randy Stoker ruled Tuesday that embattled Idaho GOP Chair Barry Peterson is out; Peterson insisted that he's still in charge, in spite of this summer's state convention being unable to choose a chair. Peterson went as far as changing the locks on the party headquarters in Boise, which triggered a number of resignations from staffers.
Meanwhile, a meeting is set for this Saturday, Aug. 2, when party officials are expected to gather again in hopes of voting on a new chairman.
For nearly 30 years reporter Dan Popkey has been pounding the streets of Boise and haunting the halls of the Statehouse, covering politics and the Legislature for the Idaho Statesman. That career started on the police beat, but led him to such high-profile stories as the sex scandal surrounding former U.S. Sen. Larry Craig—which earned him a Pulitzer nomination in 2007—and, more recently, taking on a larger role as a commentator on Idaho politics.
According to an announcement from Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador's office Aug. 29, Popkey, 55, is moving on from the Statesman to serve as press secretary for the Republican House member, known for frequent appearances on national television programs. As of July 6, Labrador has appeared nine times on NBC's Meet the Press.
Making note of Popkey's long experience as an observer of state politics, Labrador stated that "Dan will help me better communicate my message to constituents and the media."
For his part, Popkey applauded Labrador's "independence, integrity and fierce commitment to setting our nation's fiscal house in order," and said he is "thrilled with the opportunity to apply what I've learned to help advance our state's priorities in Washington."
Popkey will remain in Idaho, running Labrador's national press operations from the congressman's office in Meridian. According to the Statesman, Popkey's resignation from the paper is effective immediately.
In the wake of the revelation from the U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services, which indicated that some unaccompanied miigrant children had already been settled into Idaho, it turns out that the vast majority of children arriving in the U.S. from Central America are already in the custody of relatives.
On July 23, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter fired off a letter to the Obama White House, saying Idaho didn't want any of the children, but within 24 hours, HHS said some children had already come to the Gem State. Even more children had been settled into Oregon and Washington. Democratic gubernatorial candidate A.J. Balukoff said Otter's letter was nothing more than political posturing.
And the New York Times is reporting that a total of 30,340 migrant children have been released to sponsors, according to the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Texas leads the list (4,280 children), followed by New York (3,347), Florida (3,181), California (3,150), Maryland (2,200) and Virginia (2,200).
The resettlement office says the children's sponsors must be vetted by criminal-background checks and promise to make sure that the child appears for required immigration court appearances. The adults do not have to be legal citizens, and the Times reports that officials acknowledge that some sponsors may be living in the U.S. illegally.
Children who are not able to find qualified sponsors (about 10 percent of the total) are placed in long-term shelters or foster care.
The majority of the children are from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
The ratio of noise versus news will dial up considerably this weekend and next as Idaho Republicans and Democrats gather for their annual state political conventions. Reporters love conventions because there is a disproportionate number of men and women who love to see their names in the paper. Politicians love them because ... well, there are plenty of reporters to oblige politicans' desire to see their names in the paper.
So you can expect to read a fair amount of "he said, she said, he disagreed" news reports in the coming days as the Idaho Republican Party launches its annual state convention today in Moscow. The event continues through Saturday. Much will be made about struggles for party leadership and similar matters that rarely impact citizens' lives.
Former Arkansas Gov. and perennial presidential wannabe Mike Huckabee will be the guest speaker at this evening's convention kickoff dinner at Moscow's Best Western University Inn. Kentucky's junior senator, Rand Paul, will give the convention's keynote address Friday. Most of the convention's activities will be held at the University of Idaho Kibbie Dome.
Less than a week after Republicans hit the road, Idaho's Democrats will be going to Moscow to hold their own state political convention Friday, June 20, and Saturday, June 21.
Melaleuca CEO Frank VanderSloot has named a former Post Register reporter in his defamation lawsuit against Mother Jones, the Associated Press reports.
VanderSloot's attorneys have requested that Peter Zuckerman be added to a list of defendants for his appearance on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show in May 2012. The lawsuit was originally filed in Idaho Falls' 7th District Court in early 2013, in which he contends that a February 2012 article about him, as well as two promotional tweets, defamed him.
Should the court not allow his addition to the defendants list, a separate defamation lawsuit has been filed against Zuckerman.
Club for Growth, which had poured substantial amounts of cash to help fuel Bryan Smith's challenge to eight-term U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson in the May 20 GOP primary, has reportedly turned off the spigot.
The Wall Street Journal's political blog Washington Wire reports that Club for Growth "appears to have given up hope Mr. Simpson can be defeated."
Blogger Brody Mullins writes that new data indicates that Club for Growth hasn't spent a dime on Idaho race television advertising in the past two weeks after flooding the market with anti-Simpson ads since February.
"We're in a constant state of assessing and reassessing our races, moving resources in and out—depends on the day or week," Club for Growth spokesman Barney Keller told the Washington Wire. "We did move considerable resources into the Nebraska senate race in the last two weeks."
Mullins writes, "The development in Idaho is a big win for the incumbent, Mr. Simpson, as well as the Washington political groups that have been supporting his campaign."
According to advertising data reviewed by the Wall Street Journal, more than $600,000 from the Chamber of Commerce and "establishment organizations" has been spent on pro-Simpson ads in the last months, compared with just $230,000 in spending by groups opposing his re-election. Leading the way was the U.S. Chamber of Commerce with nearly $400,000 in pro-Simpson advertising.
Idaho's Congressional delegation, governorship and state legislature run so red they're scarlet. That hasn't always been the case. In the 1970s, Gov. Cecil Andrus became one of the state's most popular governors, and Democratic Congressman Walt Minnick served from 2008-12 until being unseated by Rep. Raul Labrador.
At a panel titled The Road to Red and hosted by Boise State Public Radio, the evening of May 12, outgoing Republican Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, Democratic strategist Betty Richardson and retired Boise State University Professor Jim Weatherby assembled to unpack why Idaho runs so crimson.
While the panelists discussed the conceptual reasons for why Idaho's elected leaders are predominantly Republicans, they also characterized the ascendance of Idaho's Republican majority as a function of the state's economic, demographic and electoral histories.
"The power of the Democrat Party was certainly diminished greatly by the mining, the timber, the unions. I don't think it's any surprise that the Republicans have risen," said Ysursa.
In the 1980s, Idaho had a popular Democratic governor, Cecil Andrus, but economic decline following the collapse of many of the state's natural resource industries weakened unions that traditionally supported Democrats. Meanwhile, a wave of immigration from California to the Idaho Panhandle turned a blue stronghold into a red one for generations.
"These people weren't coming in from the Bay Area, they were coming in from Orange County. The people were moving to Idaho for cultural reasons rather than economic reasons. They were re-enforcing the conservatism that was already there," said Weatherby.
By 1994, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Larry Echo Hawk lost to former Lt. Gov. Phil Batt, whom Ysursa characterized as an inclusive Republican who built a statewide election apparatus.
"This sounds like heresy now, but he was saying, 'We need to be the party of the big tent,'" he told the crowd.
Contemporary pressures are currently shaping the political landscape as voters prepare to hit the polls May 20, and the panelists wrapped up the symposium with their projections for this upcoming election.
"I think the current Republican Party platform is extreme. You see similarities to 1988. I think we're seeing generational shifts and geographic shifts. It's hard to say where we'll move in 2014, but I hope it's not glacial but I suspect it won't be," said Richardson.
"We still need to be the party of the big tent," said Ysursa. "But that might be utopian."
It's unofficially called the "Nerd Prom."
And Saturday night's White House Correspondent's Dinner, attended by Washington, D.C.'s elite and a cavalcade of celebrities lived up to its promise with a lot of pomp and punditry. The guest of honor was, per usual, the president, and this year's comedy emcee was Joel McHale of NBC's Community and E's The Soup.
But it was Obama who got the best laughs of the night:
"The Koch brothers bought a table here this evening but they used a shadowy right-wing organization as a front. Good evening, Fox News."
“I’m feeling sorry for the speaker of the House as well. These days, House Republicans give John Boehner a harder time than they give me. These days, orange really is the new black."
“In 2008, my slogan was ‘Yes we can.' In 2013, my slogan was ‘Control, Alt, Delete.’”
And here are a few from Joel McHale:
"Over 8 million people have signed up for Obamacare, which sounds impressive; until you realize Ashley Tisdale has 12 million Twitter followers."
“I’m a big fan of President Obama. I think he’s one of the all-time great presidents. Definitely in the top 50.”
"The launch of HealthCare.gov was a disaster. It was so bad. I don't even have an analogy because the website is now the thing people use to describe other bad things. They say things like, 'I shouldn't have eaten that sushi, because I was up all night HealthCare.gov-ing.'"
"Mr. President, when you said you would close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, that was a classic. That was hilarious."