On Halloween, Education Voters of Idaho is unmasked

UPDATED, 4:42 p.m., to reflect that Foster was a former campaign manager to Minnick.

Nine days ago, when they were arguing for their donors’ secrecy, Debbie Field and John Foster painted themselves as champions of the little guy.

Said two of the founders of Education Voters of Idaho, in a guest opinion: “For too long, Idaho parents have been left on the sidelines of the political debate over education. ... The most important voices in this process are often lost or outright ignored.”

On Wednesday afternoon — Halloween, in one of those you-can’t-make-it-up sort of ironies — this all was revealed to be a cheap plastic mask. Under a court order, EVI finally told Idahoans who was really behind their campaign to keep Propositions 1, 2 and 3 on the books.

These downtrodden and drowned-out “little guys” include:

• Joe Scott, the grandson of Joe Albertson and a major investor in the online education industry: $250,000.

• New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg: $200,000.

• The Republican Governors Public Policy Committee, a group that seldom sends surrogates to PTO bake sales in Grangeville or Gooding: $50,000.

• Hagadone Hospitality of Coeur d’Alene, which had already shaken out the hotel mattresses for a $15,000 donation to Yes for Idaho Education: a matching $15,000.

• M3 Eagle, a Phoenix company pursuing a large planned community in the Eagle Foothills: $10,000.

• Intermountain Gas Co.: $10,000.

• Clear Springs Foods, a Buhl based trout farm: $10,000.

• The J.R. Simplot Co.: $5,000.

These big donors aren’t political neophytes. The same can be said for the folks who defended their secrecy. Field, a former state legislator, managed Gov. Butch Otter’s successful re-election in 2010. Foster, a former Idaho Democratic Party executive director, was a campaign manager for former Rep. Walt Minnick.

Why did these folks — and their donors — engage in a three-week shell game? Why did they conceal their identity until Wednesday, six days before Idaho voters render their verdict on three landscape-changing education laws?

I have but one theory. And it’s perfect for Halloween.

They tried to convince you they are something they aren’t.

Education Voters for Idaho is no voice for parents. It is an advocate for big business and moneyed interests. That is the group’s constitutional right, of course. With that right comes an obligation to be transparent. To be straight with the voters who, with the three complicated Students Come First education laws, already have enough to sort out.

Transparency in government a beautiful thing, rich with subpoena power. It compels money to talk.

At 3 p.m. Wednesday, the witching hour struck. And when Education Voters of Idaho’s sunshine reports finally went public, the money spoke loud and clear.

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Well put!

Thank you Kevin.

Just sharing

I had breakfast with a group of retired friends this morning. Three in the group are former teachers who claim they have already voted and were 'yes' on the 3 propositions on education. One teacher, the only Boise teacher, stated she thought the union activities were one of the few things she disliked during her career. For what it's worth.


Now jump on the Vote No Money wagon and tell us who is funding them and for how much.

Here you go. Knock yourself out.

Unlike the people hiding in the shadows at the Vote YES campaign, the people at the Vote NO campaign have nothing to hide.


I will tell you - Idaho

I will tell you - Idaho parents, Idaho teachers, and teachers from other parts of the country. I am an Idaho parent who contributed to the no campaign.


To bad you are wrong. I looked at the pages they submitted on their donors. It looked like more than 90% of it came from out of state unions and companies. Very small donations from people in Idaho. I don't know how I am voting on this yet, but people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. If you are going to look at the donors look at both sides.

Who are the unions?

Where do you think unions get their money? From the dues paid by members. Teachers in Idaho.

Out of Idaho

A SIGNIFICANT portion of the NO money is union money outside of Idaho.

Hey Butch,

you are awfully quite on this one. Aren't you proud of your Secretary of State and your Idaho legal system for enforcing the laws and integrity of their offices? Just wondering.

Excellent article...

Thanks for an excellent review of this disaster for our public schools. We knew it wasn't a group of concerned citizens...but rather a group looking to profit off the backs of teachers. Vote no...

Kudos to the financial

Kudos to the financial supporters who are concerned enough about the quality of education in Idaho to use their resources for such. Students first as it should be.

Prepare yourselves

Might as well prepare yourselves for the legislature to override the Vote No campaign, assuming it succeeds. Most of the majority members in the legislature know that they can vote however they please and still have excellant prospects of re-election, no matter how smelly the deal. The legislature has overridden initiatives before on both term limits and right to work laws. It is not inconcievable to think that they would do it again. Big money will find a way to make themselves transparent.

Kevin, this is the best

Kevin, this is the best column you have ever written. Thank you.

Seeing through the smoke and mirrors

Great article! Vote No,No and No.
Let the big money people waste $$$ on ads instead what should have been spent on education.

Sounds like a good group of people and business-folks....

Dems can learn something, instead of getting the illegal vote out....

Id rather be with successful people, than whiners....

a group of people most of

a group of people most of whom do not even live in Idaho.

Just like the NEA outside of


Correction, pendleton, its a

Correction, pendleton, its a group of people some live in Idaho and all are concerned about the quality of education.

Enough of this clap trap about follow the money. That rhetoric can be applied every day to everything. From your use of electricity, grocery store, etc, etc. etc.

How about truly thinking about the quality of education and those impacted by the quality of education -- THE STUDENTS.

If your true concern is the about education, then you absolutely must and have no choice but to vote YES.

I am thinking about the

I am thinking about the quality of education. On line courses have never been proven to improve education. Pay for performance has never been proven to improve education. Taking away the rights of teachers to collectively bargain over cla$$ size has never been shown to improve education. What these laws will do is take a big chunk of money out of my wallet in taxes while WORSENING education in Idaho.

I wonder

Why haven't you guys looked into the source of the 501(c)4 Union money coming into Idaho? Who, besides it's membership, has money coming into Idaho? $2 Million from them vs. this other, this is small change.

Who are the donors sending $2 Million into my state to overturn Idaho laws, is that also not important? Or is it just dependent on who's side you are on Kevin?

The No side has disclosed

The No side has disclosed its donors fully.

Otter says

it was Lori who asked Bloomberg to donate, not him. We have a Gov that is looking out for the special interests and to h@ll with the majority of Idahoans that he is supposed to be representing. Re-call time.
Otter only solicited Joe.

Looks like

I won't be hanging out at the resort in CdA the next time I go up. Shame. I liked that place.

who cares ????


Dont go....


Okay, now we know.

Any surprise? Any tricks?

People with money donate to political causes.

What is funny is reading the Field/Foster opinion.

Granted, John Foster does have young children going to school in Idaho. He just needed a treasury to support his goal.

I remember another ambitious and questionable person who had the same problem--- I think his name was Christopher Columbus. "Hey King, I just need some money to make this happen, Mr. King Bloomberg."

Kings and Pimps got the money and Idahos do the work.

These people lied to you.

These people lied to you. They presented themselves in a Reader's Opinion and elsewhere as a grassroots organization that represented the "little guy." They would be the voice of parents, remember?

You don't care that you were lied to?

Bloomberg and his billionaire buddies dropped over $2 million in Louisiana last fall on races for unpaid seats on school boards. Why? Same reason he dropped $200,000 to shore up the Luna laws: to lay the groundwork for privatization of public education so that he and his billionaire buddies can siphon off billions in public taxpayer dollars, while Joe Scott makes millions through investments in companies like K12, Inc., the operator of Idaho's largest virtual charter school and Luna's largest campaign contributor ($44,000 or nearly 20% of the total). For cryin' out loud, wake up. You are being robbed.

Boy, I am sure glad to have the names.....

Of these roaches, vampires and corporate thugs out in the open instead of hiding behind the curtain. Now that I have all these names, I am going to......uh.....well I'm gonna......and then I'm gonna......(let me get back to you on this).

You could act like a grown-up, for a change.

You could act like a grown-up, for a change, and grant to this matter the seriousness it deserves. And you could act like a civic-minded adult with the best interests of your community in mind by voting NO on all three propositions. Or you could continue to engage in smirking, smarmy childish games. Your call.

Explain yourself, Kevin

"Education Voters for Idaho is no voice for parents."

Are you suggesting, Kevin, that none of these donors have children or grandchildren, or that once your children reach a certain age you should no longer be allowed to have a voice in education policy? Exactly what is your criteria for someone to be a voice for parents?

And why shouldn't big business and moneyed interests, along with small business, have a voice in education policy? You do want them to pay taxes to support our public school system, don't you? You do want them to create jobs and hire our children after they graduate, don't you? You do like partnering with the Albertson's Foundation for your Go On campaign, don't you? Like it or not, these people are stake holders, too, who have a multi-dimensional interest in public education, including that of being a parent, a taxpayer, and employer. And, yes, those Junior League women and their husbands have contributed their share to PTO bake sales, parent booster clubs, etc.

Halloween is over. Maybe you should take off that anti-business mask before it scares away the Statesman's advertisers.

Michael Bloomberg has

Michael Bloomberg has children and grandchildren in the Idaho school system? Wow, I did not know that. Maybe the fact that Idaho businesses are supporting the Luna laws, a huge waste of taxpayer money, explains why our economy isn't doing better. Idaho business leaders do not seem very bright.

Please. You expect us to swallow that?

Explain to me what Michael Bloomberg's "multi-dimensional interest" is in public education, as exemplified by the Luna laws. Is it also exemplified by his investment of over $2 million, along with his billionaire buddies, in races for unpaid seats on school boards in Louisiana last fall?


Yes, Yes and Yes

I was worried the money came from the Jimmy Hoffa Trust Fund to get even with his union thug buddies for hiding his body so well. It is not about the kids, it's about the power. Both sides are horribly wrong here. The $3 million could have worked miracles for Idaho kids.

Agreed the $3 million could

Agreed the $3 million could be put to better use. But let me point out it was Tom Luna who started all this.

Genesis of the angry No campaign

Idaho voters have not forgotten that the IEA put all their eggs in one basket in 2010 and poured a lot of money into defeating Luna for Superintendent. They might have won that election or at least not have lost it by such a wide margin had Stan Olsen not presented himself as an intellectual snob in a televised debate. For many voters Olsen is still the poster boy for what the IEA stands for - faux elitism and a blind faith in credentialism. The IEA has never conceded the 2010 election, and the No campaign is just a further extension of it after having failed to stop the SCF laws from being passed by the legislature. I'll give them credit for being doggedly determined to defeat Luna one way or another, but Idaho voters know Luna didn't start the war against education reform. We also know who nationalized this campaign and propelled it into a money war.

Fallacy of False Equivalency

There's a huge difference between everyday people pooling their money to stand up for themselves and for public education and a coterie of millionaires, billionaires, and corporations hiding behind a phony "grassroots" organization purporting to speak for the "little guy" and for "parents without a voice," when the true intent of these money-grubbing greedheads is to privatize public education in order to siphon off billions of taxpayer dollars to further fatten their wallets, all while violating one of the fundamental laws of the state that enables participatory democracy to function. If Bloomberg and Joe Scott had their way, we'd all be living in a society of haves and have-nots that more closely resembles Mexico than it does the USA.

Are you saying

The NEA is a group of everyday Idaho people? Don't forget, Idaho is a right to work state and there's not a lot of everyday people union funds laying around. I think we will find out soon that when you get outside of transplanted Boise, it IS about the kids and unionism isn't held in much regard.


Heaven forbid we have successful people and groups backing solid education reform. Oh No! Lions, Tigers and Bears - Oh My!

Kevin seems to think this is the nail in the coffin on these Props and that could not be further from the truth. It only solidifies my support for this great reform.

Could the Mistakesman Staff be more transparent in their liberal agenda??

Just wow.

Why as a conservative are

Why as a conservative are you supporting a measure buying laptops for $1200 apiece? And that doesn't include the cost to replace them if they break or the cost of the electronic textbooks. How can you call yourself a fiscal conservative?

Not a Piggy Bank!

My tax dollars are not a piggy bank for corporations. I don't mind paying a fair wage to teachers, fire fighters, and police, but I have a real problem with laws designed to siphon off my hard earned tax dollars for private companies.

And your pocket book takes

And your pocket book takes predecence over the quality of education in Idaho. Interesting. Shame on you. Lets just let our declining education system in Idaho further go down hill. Nice; what a number you are.

I suspect that you've been had . . .

If you think that the Luna laws ever had anything to do with education reform or with improving the quality of education in Idaho, then either you haven't been paying attention or you've been had. These laws have been, from the get-go, aimed at stripping the IEA of what little power it possess in this right-to-work state, punishing Luna's political opponents, rewarding Luna's campaign contributors (and contributors to the campaigns of Otter, Nonini, and Goedde), and--as the exposure of Education Voters of Idaho makes clear--laying the groundwork for the privatization of public education so that billionaires, hedge funds, and corporations can siphon off billions of taxpayer dollars.

And to think it all started by convincing you and others like you that the sky is falling. Guess what? It isn't.

Start here, with education historian Diane Ravitch's review of "US Education Reform and National Security."


Let's try it.

We may like it. Can't be worse than the current results.

Yes, Yes and Yes

I was worried the money came from the Jimmy Hoffa Trust Fund to get even with his union thug buddies for hiding his body so well. It is not about the kids, it's about the power. Both sides are horribly wrong here. The $3 million could have worked miracles for Idaho kids.

Yes, Yes and Yes

I was worried the money came from the Jimmy Hoffa Trust Fund to get even with his union thug buddies for hiding his body so well. It is not about the kids, it's about the power. Both sides are horribly wrong here. The $3 million could have worked miracles for Idaho kids.

Yes, Yes and Yes

I was worried the money came from the Jimmy Hoffa Trust Fund to get even with his union thug buddies for hiding his body so well. It is not about the kids, it's about the power. Both sides are horribly wrong here. The $3 million could have worked miracles for Idaho kids.