Idaho Power: Gift doesn't mean we toe tea party line

Idaho Power Co.’s vice president for public affairs said Thursday that the company gave $1,000 to the Idaho Freedom Foundation, but that doesn’t mean it is fully aligned with the group’s libertarian and tea party agenda.

I reported Thursday that the company is a silver sponsor of IFF’s July 19 annual banquet — the first old-line company to publicly support the group that began operations in 2009. Idaho Power President and CEO LaMont Keen and his wife, Vicki, are gold sponsors and gave to IFF as individuals in 2011.

Keen and Vice President for Public Affairs Jeff Malmen didn’t reply to requests for comment Tuesday and Wednesday, but Malmen provided a written statement Thursday.

“Idaho Power and its employees participate in hundreds of community events,” Malmen wrote. “It is inappropriate to categorize participation in any particular event as alignment by Idaho Power with all views of an organization or its members. Idaho Power’s modest contribution to purchase a table at the Idaho Freedom Foundation’s dinner featuring Judge Andrew Napolitano is one example. Support for these community activities is not included in rates paid by our customers.”

Malmen declined to elaborate on issues where it differs with IFF. The foundation is a leading opponent of establishing a state-run health insurance exchange. During the 2012 Legislature, IFF helped squash a bill supported by Gov. Butch Otter’s insurance director and the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry. Keen is a member of the IACI board.

Hoffman said Thursday that Idaho Power is not the only old-guard company to support IFF, though it is the only one willing to disclose support publicly.

“I think we have two that meet that criteria and have been consistent givers since 2010,” Hoffman said, adding that two more old-line companies gave in 2012. He said those contributions total about $5,000.

Idaho Public Utilities Commission Chairman Paul Kjellander said Idaho Power can not get ratepayers to cover the gift. Spending on memberships to the Arid Club, dues to trade groups, political contributions and lobbying must be paid by shareholders, not customers of the regulated monopoly.

“It’s off the table,” Kjellander said. “If anyone tried to incorporate those costs the intervenors (customers) would come unglued.”

Hoffman said Thursday that IFF is not a political organization. To keep its tax-exempt status, it can spend no more than 20 percent of its budget on lobbying. In 2011, IFF spent $10,920 on direct lobbying of the Legislature, or 3 percent of its $350,348 in expenses, according to its tax return.

“The rest is education,” Hoffman said. “We engage in public policy within the confines of Idaho law and federal tax code, and that includes lobbying.”
Hoffman said IFF doesn’t disclose donor information without permission: “Keeping support secret is honoring the wishes of the donors.”

IFF does disclose major donations to the IRS, but not donors’ names. In 2010, five donors gave $432,600 of $504,575 raised, with one giving $195,000 and another $190,000. In 2011, 10 donors gave $225,500 of $357,879 in support, with the top giver at $60,000.

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Is there some way he's a Vandal so that BDuck 2009 can post?

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You fry wants with that?

"Modest Contribution to Purchase a Table" or Sponsorship?

Idaho Power is listed on the Invitation as a "Silver Sponsor", which is higher than Thayn's $500 "Bronze Sponsor" level.

So, which is it? A sponsor of the event or just bought a table? I'm sorry, Mr. Malmen, but people who just bought a table are probably not listed as sponsors.

The contribution was $1,000 for 'Silver Sponsor'

Jeff Malmen gave me that figure today; Wayne Hoffman would not disclose the amount paid by Idaho Power or the bronze, silver and gold levels.

Dan Popkey

So, this is more than simply buying a table.

Assuming the banquet tables seat ten people, it would be only $500 to "purchase a table". Idaho Power has chosen to support the Freedom Foundation at a higher level than others who attend the banquet. I don't know of any company that hands sponsorships out without some specific PR objective or real belief in the organization they are supporting. Why has Idaho Power decided to support the Freedom Foundation?

Hmmmmm

Wonder how much milage DP is going to try to nurse out of this one?

Mr. Popkey, what is the deal with Lorna Finman?

I see she is also a gold sponsor of the event....along with giving big money to ultra conservative legislators, PACs and organizations. If you start connecting the dots, her name shows up a lot.

Another Republican arguing for small government that

apparently makes their money from government (military) contracts (via LCF Enterprises). Oh the irony...

"No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government." Neil Peart

Call it whatever ... Idaho Power supports limited government

It doesn't matter what the CEO or the Vice President of Public Affairs have to say -- a $1,000 check to a organization promoting "limited and smaller government" at taxpayer expense is support for the organization. No one can say that this "money" does not come out of the wallets Idaho Power customers ... it does. This is the mission of Idaho Power and IACI -- to make the divide between the rich and poor much larger than it already is. It is not good business decision and it is certainly bad corporate politics, at best

Good try, Malmgren, but its

Good try, Malmgren, but its still a snake pit no matter what you deem to portray it as. Gotta bridge I'll sell you.

What's that old saying about lipstick and pigs?

Nice try, Idaho Power. Unlike your electricity, I'm not buying it.

It got Obama elected...

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You fry wants with that?

Fadness and Hoffman=only sex IPCO has got.

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You fry wants with that?

Idaho Power seems to care

Idaho Power seems to care less what their customers think about their association with an organization like IFF. What next, John Birch membership?

Nice to be a monopoly. Also, Hoffman's claim that IFF isn't a political organization is complete bull. Helping to squash a bill supported by Otters insurance director and the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry? Sound like a political organization to me. More underhanded tparty tactics.

the Sky is falling

Lets all jump to conclusions...thanks Dan for starting yet another FIRE in Idaho that is a non-issue except it sells advertising and you keep your job.

the Sky is falling

Lets all jump to conclusions...thanks Dan for starting yet another FIRE in Idaho that is a non-issue except it sells advertising and you keep your job.

I disagree.

for those who follow Idaho politics closely, I think this is an issue. When I got the invitation and noticed Idaho Power listed as a sponsor, my first response was, "What the ???" If mainstream corporations start supporting organizations like Hoffman's, that is a definite shift from the status quo.

I do wonder what Idaho Power's objective is in sponsoring the organization. Is Keen simply using the company to support his own personal views? Did someone other than Wayne Hoffman ask them to support the event? Are they trying to get on the good side of the far right? If they just want to be present at the event and socialize with the legislators, why didn't they just buy a table instead of sponsoring? Are they just trying to buy Hoffman off so he won't target them next legislative session?

Is this an indication of the increasing power of IFF? I do think this sponsorship is significant in Idaho politics and raises a lot of questions.

I guess

IACI was too squishy and liberal for them.

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Need I say more!