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.