Foster drops work on behalf of Idaho's 'Students Come First,' asks not to be called a Democrat

John Foster, a former executive director of the Idaho Democratic party and former Democratic Congressman Walt Minnick's 2010 campaign manager, said Monday that he has ended his volunteer affiliation with the campaign by GOP Gov. Butch Otter and GOP Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna to preserve their 2011 education reforms.

Foster said he told aides to Otter and Luna “about 10 days ago” that he needs to focus on building a new business with his partner, Kate Haas, Minnick’s former chief of staff. Foster and Haas were fired by Seattle-based Strategies 360 on Feb. 3 after Foster attempted to make the campaign a client for the company. Strategies 360 fired the pair in February and sued them. Foster and Haas counter-sued. Their new company is called Kestrel West.

“I told them that I had to step away from my volunteer efforts on the education campaign so that I could put all my energy into helping Kate get our business off the ground,” Foster said in an email. “The campaign was taking a long time to get started and I finally decided that I could not wait and had to step away. So for the time being I am not involved.”

Foster said he hopes to return to the campaign as Election Day approaches.

Foster and Haas were fired in February by Strategies 360 after word that Foster would be working on behalf of Otter and Luna. The three laws are subject to repeal at the November election.

In March, Strategies 360 sued Foster and Haas, alleging breach of contract, violation of the Idaho Trade Secrets Act, breach of the duty of loyalty, and breach of the duty confidentiality. Foster and Haas counter-sued, alleging breach of contract, breach of good faith and fair dealing, defamation, invasion of privacy and violation of Idaho wage law.

According to court records, Foster was being paid a $100,000 annual base salary and was eligible for profit sharing and client referral bonuses. Haas was making $90,000, plus client referral bonuses. The bonuses were to equal 10 percent of gross revenue from new client business for the life of the client relationship.

Meanwhile, as they work to build their lobbying and consulting business, Foster and Haas are asking that they not be referred to as Democrats.

In a column Sunday, I wrote about the hiring of Democratic Rep. Brian Cronin of Boise to revive the Strategies 360 office. Without naming them, I called Foster and Haas Democrats.

In an email, Foster wrote, “Both Kate and I ask that you reconsider your descriptor of us as 'Democrats.' Our work is non-partisan and our party affiliation has nothing to do with the work we do. Moreover, on a personal level our party affiliation has evolved. We have not only both been shunned by the Idaho Democratic Party, we are visibly supporting some Republicans and have worked hard to show that we are independent and centrist rather than aligned with any particular political party. You can confirm that with legislators and elected officials across the spectrum.”

Asked how he would describe himself now, Foster wrote, “The best way to describe me right now is Reagan Democrat. Which is to say I would like the Democratic Party to come back to its conservative roots. In the meantime I'm calling myself an aggressive, centrist pragmatist.”

Wrote Haas, “I am a classic Idaho independent. I vote the person not the party. My personal philosophy is based in what I believe, which includes elements of what the Democrats are vocal about and elements of what the Republicans are vocal about. I don't believe in orthodoxy, and I am not going to change my core beliefs to fit a political party.

“Leadership from both parties is guilty of talking to and acting on behalf of the extremes and ignoring the center. I blame that tendency, in part, for the toxic political environment that exists. That very much leaves me in line with the majority of our country - in the center searching for the people who want to roll up their sleeves and work together to solve problems. Whether you think they are center-right or center-left, most of the country doesn't have the patience for rhetoric while they are busy worrying about covering a mortgage or putting food on the table. There are a whole host of factors that have led us to this point, but attitudes of party leaders caused us to lose a bunch of the men and women in both parties who were willing to work together. And I think that is a shame.

“I am waiting it out to see how the parties shift in the coming years. If one party or another steps up in a meaningful way, then I may choose to engage in party politics. In the mean time, I will continue to consult on campaigns for candidates or issues a case-by-case basis, as it always has been for me.”

Haas said she registered last year as a Republican because she wants to vote for GOP Rep. Mike Simpson in the May 15 primary.

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1334628703 Foster drops work on behalf of Idaho's 'Students Come First,' asks not to be called a Democrat Idaho Statesman Copyright 2014 Idaho Statesman . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Not very convincing...

Foster and Haas don't sound very convincing, sincere or genuine. John, you want Democrats to go back to their conservative Reagan-esque principles? Say what? And Kate, do you really want us to believe that the only reason you registered as a Republican is so that you could vote for Mike Simpson? Are you kidding me? What are you possibly going to do when you want to vote your independent mind and you like a Republican AND a Democrat running in separate primary races? Oh, I feel so sorry for your head of hair as you'll be tearing it out trying to decide how to vote and yet maintain your self-professed independence. Oh, and I think Mike Simpson should do alright with or without your vote. I can hear you now, "I'm a registered Republican. But I'm not". Nice punch line.

It's about the money.

Intentions of saving my Party—the Republican Party--like Jack Abramoff saved the Tigua tribe?

"Saving" the Tigua: Jack Abramoff: "Fire up the jet baby, we're going to El Paso!!" Mike Scanlon: "I want all their MONEY!!!"

Email interchange between Jack Abramoff and Mike Scanlon, February 6, 2002.


Kate would have had to make a choice, if the primary had remained an open one. In the open primary, you could only vote on one ballot. The big differenece was that no one knew which ballot you chose. You marked the one you wanted, and deposited it in a machine; the other ballot was disposed of face down in another place- at least that's the way it was done in our town.

I understand...

The mechanics of the Idaho Republican efforts to close their primaries are clear and transparent (one of the only things Republicans allow Idaho citizens to see). However, will Kate avow that she will not cast a ballot for any other Republican other than Mike Simpson while she is in the ballot box? Does she have no desire or opinion to support any Democratic candidates in their primary races? What of the fact that she is totally independent? What is the value of her oath to register as a Republican? Is there that much wiggle room when it comes to politics? Or at least her politics? I think you can see the problems she has created for herself.


I think the switch to vote for Simpson is simply a move to get the more liberal candidate in the general election on the Republican ticket. Simpson is easily the least popular of all of Idaho's delegation. But it is funny how she would register just to vote for one race. I can admire someone, even if I disagree with them, if they stand firm for what they believe in, rather than trying to pretend to be something else based on the situation they are in. This applies to Haas and Simpson really.

What is centrist about my Party in Idaho?

What specifically is “centrist” or Reagan Democrat like about my Party defunding public education, taking “baby steps” towards ethics legislation, or deep sixing Cronin’s bill in committee rather than letting it come to a vote in full view of Idaho citizens. The bill that would protect Idaho citizens by providing oversight of for-profit education companies. Reference the ongoing SEC investigation of K-12 Corporation. The Harkins Federal investigation. the Multistate Attorney’s General investigation. The Education Trust Report Subprime. The Frontline investigation. All of Apollo Group/University of Phoenix and the for-profit education industry. Centrists support honest transparent government in Idaho. Idaho Legislators do not. All politics are local. My party “jumped the shark” last year. They embarrassed Idaho citizens even more this year.

Jump the shark?

SunDevil1985, so the past Legislative session was a "jump the shark" moment for Idaho Republicans? I'm glad I'm not the only one disgusted by the actions of the Republican-led Legislature.

It's time to put an Ethics initiative on the ballot.

It was Denny and Hill’s “baby steps to ethics” comment that was the last straw. Combined with defunding public education, and burying Cronin’s bill that addressed the for-profit education problem. Embarrassing.

Time for pushback. I’ll not vote for a fellow Republican locally or nationally in the next election. Grab a clipboard. Collect signatures to put an Ethics initiative on the Ballot. If our legislators are too incompetent to get the job done, Idaho Citizens need to work together to do their work for them.
Critical thinkers unite!

What did they expect...

when they bit the hand that fed them?

They are acting and speaking in a very juvenile, very unenlightened manner.


Political Mercenaries, will sell their "loyalty" to the highest bidder.

Faux enough, How about my favorite Redd Foxx...

Hey, Dummy!


"foreignoregonian" is not anonymous

It is my identity and my philosophy

Would you prefer everyone to be called 'Poster'?

Slime, Slime, Slime

Foster & Haas are all about everything wrong with political campaigns and the current democracy.

These slimes are the bottom feeder of life who paid to say and do anything using opinion based propaganda to manipulate low information people.

Never Never trust and the wordsmithing by the chameleon known as Foster & Haas.........

Haas is in the right company..

Hanging with politicians. Gotta love this nonsensical statement of hers: "I don't believe in orthodoxy, and I am not going to change my core beliefs to fit a political party." The sentence is as empty of meaning as are her political beliefs. Follow the money.


These two caricatures are the biggest snobs I've ever seen. No, you are not God's gift to policy or politicking. Maybe instead of pontificating about how virtuous your ideals are, you should actually live them. Hard to do when they change every 5 minutes, I expect. Disloyal, disengenous, and dirty. Glad for 360 that Cronin is at the helm now. Foster and Haas have sold out too many times to be trusted by anyone. And for all their swagger, they've yet to prove they can be successful at anything.

Well, now we know Minnick's campaign in 2010 ended up alienating so many Democrats.

I met Kate Haas at a party

I met Kate Haas at a party once. Someone commented on what a lovely view we had looking north towards the Depot up Capitol Boulevard at sunset, she remarked on what a small and provincial “town” Boise is compared to D.C. As a result of that snotty comment, I’m surprised she’d want to work in Idaho because we are literally such small potatoes to someone of her caliber. I’m not surprised however that she would claim to be an Independent now after working for Democrats. Consultants will say whatever needs to be said to get work.

IDAHO.....Where Comedy Central gets it's material

This is the only state where the Democrats don't need PAC money to make Republicans look bad. Republicans in this state use their guns to constantly shoot themselves in the foot. NRA should be proud.