Idaho politics: Sleazy, even by robocall standards?

The Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry has built its reputation for lobbying — usually successfully — on tax and business issues.

On Wednesday, the group did nothing for its reputation. It jumped into the governor's race, fronting a sleazy and gloom-mongering Internet and robocall campaign.

IACI's Idaho Prosperity Fund said Democratic gubernatorial candidate Keith Allred would willingly pile up $82 million of debt, by spending dollars Idaho won't have. I got one of the robocalls Wednesday night; it didn't disrupt dinner, but neither did it pass the smell test.

IACI's coup de grace is a website called, not too subtly, www. allredink.com.

Reads the site: "Keith Allred has the same kind of budget agenda that Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are using to bankrupt our nation with reckless spending, government takeovers and crushing debt. If Keith Allred has his way, he’ll put Washington-style government right here in our backyard!"

Some quality guilt by association there.

The facts are more nuanced. The $82 million in question centers on spending for the 2010-11 budget year, which opens July 1. Allred maintains the 2010-11 budget should have been built on more optimistic revenue forecasts crafted by state economist Mike Ferguson; Gov. Butch Otter and the Legislature rejected that idea and wrote essentially a flat budget.

Allred is sticking with his criticism, even though April tax collections are expected to fall $55 million shy of forecasts. In that sense, IACI's website is right: "The numbers are in." April wasn't good, and because it reflects income tax returns, it is an important month in the 2009-10 budget year.

But how do the April figures inform the budget decisions for 2010-11? That's where IACI's doom-and-gloom "the numbers are in" pronouncement falls apart.

Sales taxes and individual income tax withholdings were up. Even Otter, while defending his austere budgeting approach, offered a somewhat optimistic read of the April numbers. "I have no doubt that our economy is headed in the right direction. However, April’s tax filings largely still reflect what was happening with the economy last year – not over these past few months of marginally improving conditions."

Not surprisingly, Allred spun the argument a little differently. He was quick to defend the Legislature's hold-the-line approach for 2009-10 — a fact seemingly lost on IACI — but used the April numbers as another opportunity to criticize Otter's 2010-11 budget: "Viewing policy decisions for next year based on last year’s income tax returns is like trying to drive by looking in the rearview mirror," he said in a statement. "In contrast, the ongoing trend of higher-than-expected sales tax revenue tells us that we need a major course correction."

IACI chief Alex LaBeau is standing behind his assertions; "We’ve got to go back and check what his numbers were," he told the Associated Press. "But right now, the information we have is what we double-checked. And we were very thorough about that.”

But Allred struck a chord with his response to the IACI blitz, saying it "speaks to the worst in us, not the best."

It also assumes the worst about the economy — and Idaho's ability to pay for schools and other needed programs. Some message from the self-proclaimed "voice of business in Idaho."

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Running scared...

...and it isn't even the general election, yet. IACI seems to be fearful of losing the disproportionate influence it holds in the Governor's mansion. Keith Allred will listen to the people of Idaho, not just the lobbyists.

Why is IACI poring this kind of money into the Gov's race?

When Allred is polling so far behind Otter and he has little to no name recognition in most of the state?

Because Allred is gaining momentum fast

They realize his potential.

I'll believe it when I see it

I like Allred, but the latest numbers I looked at were not at all impressive and didn't show any momentum. His campaign has been less than dynamic. Unless he moves into overdrive very soon, he doesn't stand a chance. I could always be wrong, but I don't think things look good for him. I suspect IACI's moves are more about kissing up to the Gov and LaBeau's friendship with his chief of staff.

they never saw him coming.....

they thought it was going to be just another year of righties rubber stamping the R inc*u*mbents here in Idaho

The symbolism is worse...

than just the distortion of the facts. The Web site alludes to the color red - commonly associated with communism and/or socialism - and has Allred image imposed with images of our president and the leaders of the House and Senate along with a "clock" that shows the national debt. Typical Idaho politics - all rhetoric and no substance.

ROBO CALLS

Its hilarious that anyone would take these call serious to even debate them. Neither side has any credibility with me. What is not funny is if these calls are made to cell phones and we are charged for their minutes of drivel. I signed up for the do not call on cell phones and I hope these kinds of calls are included in it.

It is laugh out loud funny to see......

liberals running around with their hair on fire and ther panties in a wad. This column belongs in the comic strip section! You guys are killing me.

Wadded panties over age 18 are usually fun I think?

Are you the Pod that destroyed Rancher?

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You can use any words you like here, as long as you don't use actual words.

Wadded

Mr. Family Values, David Vitter, prefers to get his diapers wadded.

Name one.

You have a vivid imagination - no substance.

Mushmouth and Weird Harold could do better...

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You can use any words you like here, as long as you don't use actual words.

guilt by association?

Kevin,

Are you saying that Obama, Reid, and Pelosi are responsible for the massive debt, but it's not fair to tie Allred to them? If you want to point fingers, start with shrub, who took us to war on a credit card and cut taxes at the same time which created huge debt. Also, point at the Ayn Randers who are always trying to deregulate the banks and financial industry, which of course only leads to the kind of crash we are just now digging out from, and Obama, Reid, and Pelosi are doing a great job in spite of the Grand Obstructionist Party.

IACI website is slick

Nicely designed website I must admit. The black adds to the gloom of their message and the use of AllRED made me chuckle in its cleverness. I am sorry to realize that many viewers will like the site AND swallow their lies. For this I do not chuckle.

It has too many words

The website has too many words for most conservatives. They won't read it all, and they won't get the "AllRedInk" double meaning either.

IACI

Not surprised to see IACI involved in a sleazy campaign...just wondering why so early? Negative trends in the polls? Granted their members have a great deal to lose if Otter isn't re-elected...they might have to pay their fair share of the tax burden.

IACI vs fair share??????

That won't happen while they still own the legislature.

They'll have to sell it eventually: bad economy.

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You can use any words you like here, as long as you don't use actual words.