The 2012 campaigns for and against Propositions 1, 2 and 3 have busted the Idaho record for spending on ballot measures, with opponents having raised about $3.6 million and proponents about $2.6 million.
The standard was set in 1986 when 54 percent of voters affirmed the Legislature's passage of the Right to Work law, which bars union membership as a condition of employment. Unions spent $2.8 million attempting to overturn the law, proponents defended the measure with $1.167 million.
While that doesn't account for 26 years of inflation, we're not finished in the battle between teachers unions and much of Idaho's GOP establishment and national supporters of school reform. Expect the airwaves to be chock-full of ads through Tuesday's vote.
Late Wednesday, I spoke with Frank VanderSloot, CEO of Melalueca and the big bankroller of Props 1, 2 and 3, who has vowed to counter union money. Said the Idaho Falls billionaire: "I'm not done yet."
VanderSloot's contributions total $1,443,576.
Wednesday afternoon, the Idaho Education Association (IEA) reported a new $100,000 contribution to fight the laws passed by the 2011 Legislature. Last week, after the 7-day pre-primary reporting period closed, the National Education Association (NEA) reported a $740,000 contribution. The teachers unions say the money comes member dues, which fall below the $500 annual threshold for reporting of individual contributors by a non-business entity under Idaho's Sunshine law.
A clear calculation of fundraising to date was made possible by Wednesday's court-ordered filing of Sunshine reports by Education Voters of Idaho, which has raised $641,160, including $250,000 from Albertson's heir Joe Scott and $200,000 from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
This morning, I took a breath and broke down the fundraising and spending by both sides. I read all the reports, including newly filed 48-hour notices.
In short, opponents of the laws authored by School Superintendent Tom Luna and backed by Gov. Butch Otter have raised $3,563,225, all but 4 percent of that coming from the NEA and IEA. NEA has spent $2,814,636, IEA $600,529. Other sources have contributed $148,060.
Most of the opposition dough has gone to the Vote No on Propositions 1, 2, 3 political action committee. But $105,098 was raised by Idaho Republicans for Our Schools, which is wholly funded by IEA. IEA Vice President Rick Jones, a Republican, chairs that PAC.
It's more complicated on the "Yes" side.
The leading outfit is Yes for Idaho Education, which has raised $985,474. Of that, VanderSloot contributed $604,000 and his former Melaleuca colleague Allen Ball gave $150,000.
Next comes Education Voters of Idaho, with that $641,160.
The Idaho Federation of Republican Women raised $428,000, all of that coming from VanderSloot. Melaleuca gave all but $20,000 of the money contributed to the GOP women; another VanderSloot company, Natural Guardian, gave $20,000.
On top of his contributions to the committees, VanderSloot's two companies have reported $411,576 in independent expenditures, principally for newspaper, TV and radio ads.
Parents for Education Reform, an affiliate of Education Voters of Idaho (EVI), has raised a net $150,000. That net figure subtracts $200,350 raised by EVI and transferred to Parents for Education Reform. The $150,000 came from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ($50,000), where VanderSloot is a board member, and Students First ($100,000), a Sacramento-based reform group led by former Washington, D.C., School Superintendent Michelle Rhee.
Retiring Rep. Bert Stevenson, R-Rupert, chipped in with an independent expenditure of $250.
Grand total for proponents of "Students Come First:" $2,616,460.
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