Campaigns on Idaho Props 1, 2 & 3 raised $6.4 million

Opponents of Propositions 1, 2 and 3 raised $3.6 million in their successful effort to repeal the laws in the Nov. 6 election. Opponents spent $2.8 million. The great bulk of the money was spent on advertising.

The total spending of $6.4 million tops the $3.967 million spent in the 1986 referendum campaign that affirmed passage of right-to-work. But adjusted for inflation, those 1986 dollars are equal to $8.4 million in 2012 dollars. In short, the 2012 campaign cost 76 percent of what the 1986 race cost in real dollars.

The school reforms were championed by Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna and Gov. Butch Otter and supported by most Republicans in the GOP-controlled Legislature. But 57 percent of voters opposed the restrictions on unions and teacher tenure in Prop 1; 58 percent opposed merit bonuses for teachers in Prop 2; and 67 percent opposed the laptop and online mandate in Prop 3.

Not much changed since I last calculated spending the day before the election, based on reports to the Idaho Secretary of State.

The latest finance reports were filed Thursday, the same day the Idaho House elected new Speaker Scott Bedke. They cover Oct. 22 to Nov. 16. I was finally able to catch up today.

Opponents relied almost entirely on the National Education Association and Idaho Education Association, which provided $3,467,590 of the $3,615,788 raised. NEA spent $2,822,407; IEA, $645,183. Together, that was 96 percent of the funding for the two opposition groups, Vote No on Props 1, 2, 3 and Idaho Republicans for Our Schools.

Proponents raised $2,260,368 for four committees, Yes for Idaho Education ($1,087,647), the Idaho Federation of Republican Women ($430,451), and two affiliated committees, Parents for Education Reform ($501,360) and Education Voters of Idaho ($240,910). (Because EVI largely funded Parents for Education Reform, I have calculated net figures, so as to not double-count.)

An independent media campaign funded by Melaleuca CEO Frank VanderSloot added $525,724. VanderSloot gave $643,481 to Yes for Idaho Education and $428,000 to the Idaho Federation of Republican Women.

In total, VanderSloot provided $1.6 million, about 57 percent of the financial backing for proponents, including 47 percent of the money raised by the committees.

Two interesting details appear in the EVI report.

Last week, Gov. Otter touted poll results paid for by the group as making the case for pressing to revive portions of all three measures during the 2013 Legislature. The day following the election, EVI reported spending $17,300 for polling by Moore Information of Portland and $15,637 for polling by Advantage Inc. of Arlington, Va. EVI spokesman John Foster declined to say how much the polling cost after Otter's speech Wednesday. Neither Otter nor Foster have released poll results.

EVI also reported spending $35,489 on legal fees. Secretary of State Ben Ysursa successfully won his lawsuit against the the group, forcing it to disclose sources of its money, which included $200,000 from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and $250,000 from Albertsons grocery heir Joe Scott.

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