Ex-wireless contractor on Otter’s campaign

The governor’s finance director resigned from Education Networks of America in September.

IDAHO EDUCATION NEWSFebruary 27, 2014 

Martin Bilbao had worked for the Nashville, Tenn.-based company as its Idaho account services manager. Last summer, when ENA submitted a bid for a multiyear Wi-Fi installation contract at schools, the company’s 308-page bid cited Bilbao’s ties to Idaho and Idaho Republican politics.

In July, ENA won a contract that could extend to 15 years at a cost of more than $33 million.

But since then — and as Gov. Butch Otter gears up to run for a third term as governor — two multimillion-dollar ENA contracts have come under scrutiny at the Statehouse.

Otter has budgeted more than $2 million for the Wi-Fi project, but on Tuesday he was noncommittal about Sen. John Goedde’s proposal to have districts get contracts on their own.

“He is open to discussing with our partners in the Legislature how this Wi-Fi portion of the equation fits into the overall broadband puzzle,” spokesman Jon Hanian said.

Otter, meanwhile, has taken an active role in pushing for $14.45 million for ENA’s Idaho Education Network. The statewide broadband system is embroiled in a contract dispute that has left federally administered funding in limbo.

Legislative budget writers are balking at Otter’s proposal to provide $7.3 million for the network in 2014-15; they approved a $6.6 million stopgap to fund the system through June 30.

Bilbao resigned from ENA and is not on a leave of absence or retainer, Otter campaign manager Jayson Ronk said Wednesday. He took the full-time campaign finance director’s position in October.

According to Otter’s campaign finance report, Bilbao has been paid $7,548.75.

Bilbao and Ronk have worked together before. He was the state Republican Party’s finance and political director when Ronk worked for the state party. In 2010, Bilbao managed Lt. Gov. Brad Little’s re-election campaign.

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