Debbie Field, Gov. Butch Otter's former drug czar and two-time campaign manager, has raised $200,350 from a single source and spent it on broadcast ads supporting Propositions 1, 2 and 3, also known as "Students Come First" and "The Luna Laws."
Field heads a new group, Parents for Education Reform, which filed its Sunshine report Tuesday, a day before the deadline for finance reports covering the period May 26 to Sept. 30. The new political action committee's treasurer is Cordell Chigbrow, who also is Otter's treasurer.
All but $32 of the $200,350 raised was paid to Sandler-Innocenzi Inc., for broadcast advertising, which includes radio, TV and internet spots. Sandler-Innocenzi is based in Arlington, Va., and received the $200,318 payment Sept. 25. Sandler-Innocenzi calls itself "one of the country's leading full-service Republican political advertising firms."
The entire $200,350 came from Education Voters of Idaho, a group that shares the same Boise post office box with Field's group. Education Voters of Idaho has not yet filed a Sunshine report. Field referred me to John Foster, a former spokesman for former Democratic Congressman Walt Minnick.
Foster said the group won't be filing a campaign finance report to disclose where the $200,350 came from. "We are a non-profit, 501(c)4 under the eyes of the Internal Revenue Service. We don't have to disclose."
Foster is a consultant to Parents for Education Reform, which is affiliated with Education Voters of Idaho.
Asked whether the group was exempt from Idaho's Sunshine law, Chief Deputy Secretary of State Tim Hurst said, "We have been in discussions with Education Voters of Idaho about proper disclosure. It is currently under legal review."
Said Foster: "We have been working with the secretary of state's office from the beginning in good faith."
Reports also have not yet been filed by the leading proponent of the education laws, YES for Idaho Education. Neither have the known opponents of the propositions, Vote No on Propositions 1, 2, 3 and Idaho Republicans for Our Schools.
Field represented Southeast Boise in the Legislature for a dozen years and chaired the House Judiciary Committee. During Otter's first governor's race in 2006, Field focused on Otter and neglected her own contest, losing by 175 votes to Democrat Branden Durst.
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