The refusal of a new nonprofit group to reveal the source of $200,350 contributed for TV ads backing Propositions 1, 2 and 3 is under legal review, the Secretary of States Office said.
The spending was disclosed by Parents for Education Reform, which filed its sunshine report Tuesday. The money came from an affiliated organization, Education Voters of Idaho.
John Foster, a consultant for Parents for Education Reform and spokesman for Education Voters of Idaho, said the second group will not file a sunshine report disclosing contributors.
We are a nonprofit, 501(c)4 under the eyes of the Internal Revenue Service, said Foster. We dont have to disclose.
Finance reports are due Wednesday for candidates and political action committees under the Sunshine Initiative, a law passed by 78 percent of voters in 1974.
Asked whether Fosters group was exempt, 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.
Foster said the groups have been working with Secretary of State Ben Ysursas office in good faith.
Parents for Education Reform and Education Voters for Idaho were formed to support Superintendent Tom Lunas 2011 education laws, which are subject to repeal should a majority vote no on Nov. 6.
Gov. Butch Otter, a key supporter, helped raise money at the Republican National Convention in August to defend the laws. Those contributions havent surfaced in public reports.
But during the convention, Garden City businessman Tracy Lotz, a frequent contributor to Luna and other Republicans, posted on Facebook a photo of Luna and Melaleuca CEO Frank VanderSloot, saying VanderSloot gave $100,000 to defend the Students Come First laws. VanderSloot has been spending thousands on full-page newspaper ads supporting the laws.
Formed in August, Parents for Education Reforms directors were listed as Debbie Field, Otters two-time campaign manager; Phil Reberger, a lobbyist whose firm represents Apple, iSchool Campus and the Idaho School Boards Association; and Mark Dunham, a trustee of the College of Western Idaho and former lobbyist for the Associated General Contractors, also a Reberger client.
Field, formerly a GOP legislator and Otters drug czar, leads Parents for Education Reform. Her group spent all but $32 of the $200,350 from Education Voters of Idaho on broadcast ads. The money went to Sandler-Innocenzi Inc., a GOP consulting firm in Arlington, Va.
A sunshine report is due Wednesday from the leading proponent of the education laws, YES for Idaho Education, led by Ken Burgess, a GOP strategist and former U.S. Senate aide. The opponents of the propositions, Vote No on Propositions 1, 2, 3 and Idaho Republicans for Our Schools, also must file today. The great bulk of opposition money has come from state and national teachers unions.
The pro and con groups have said they each could spend $1 million by Nov. 6.
Dan Popkey: 377-6438, Twitter: @IDS_politics