Press-Tribune: No Campaign Finance Transparency in Failed CWI Bond Campaign 

click to enlarge Artist's rendering of the proposed CWI-Boise campus. - COLLEGE OF WESTERN IDAHO
  • College of Western Idaho
  • Artist's rendering of the proposed CWI-Boise campus.
While College of Western Idaho officials reconsider their strategy following the school's recent failure to secure enough votes for a $180 million bond, one thing trustees won't have to do is show the public who helped fund the losing effort.

The Idaho Press-Tribune reports donations for such bond elections aren't subject to the same campaign finance disclosure rules candidates must follow. The question of who was paying for the community college's bond push surfaced in the final days of the election, when a so-called "awareness campaign" trumpeting the importance of CWI began appearing on television, online and in Treasure Valley newspapers. Idaho law states public schools are not allowed to actively campaign in bond and/or levy elections, but CWI officials insisted the marketing effort was not designed to promote the bond.

CWI trustees had asked voters to approve the $180 million bond, intended to help finance a new Boise campus and upgrade the college's Canyon County campus. By the end of Election Day, Nov. 8, only 59 percent of voters said "yes," falling short of the 2/3rds majority required to pass the measure. Only in precincts of Boise's North End did more than 66.6 percent of voters approve of the bond. Things were worse in Canyon County, where only 51 percent of voters were in favor of the bond.

An effort to hold all election measures—including bonds and levies—accountable to the same campaign finance transparency laws failed in the 2016 Idaho Legislature, but the Press-Tribune reports sponsors are anxious to push a similar proposal through the 2017 session of the Legislature.
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