E. Idaho representative's 'endorsements' not what they seem

Several people listed as supporters by Jeff Thompson are actually backing his opponent.

(IDAHO FALLS) POST REGISTERApril 30, 2014 

If it's on the Internet, it must be true.

Unless you're looking at Rep. Jeff Thompson's campaign website, thompsonforidaho.nationbuilder.com. The site lists on its endorsement page more than 150 "supporters" and eight organizations backing his candidacy for the District 30A seat.

But several individuals and groups listed on the page said they have not endorsed Thompson in his latest race.

Thompson promised Tuesday that he will take down the list and re-evaluate the endorsements.

"There are endorsements on there that are legitimate endorsements," he said.

Former state Rep. Janice McGeachin discovered Monday that Thompson listed her as a supporter.

"I am not supporting him or his campaign," she said.

McGeachin supported Thompson in previous campaigns, she said, but this year she's backing Steve Yates, Thompson's Republican primary opponent.

Thompson said the list on his website is a running list of anyone who has ever endorsed him, not only those who have endorsed him in the primary race against Yates.

UNAUTHORIZED

Former state Rep. Ann Rydalch also is listed on Thompson's website and encouraged him to run early in his political career. But she, too, backs Yates this spring. Additionally, she said she never asked to be added to any list endorsing Thompson.

"My name is on that list and he did not ask my permission," she said. "I was very disappointed that Jeff would do that without my permission. I was mad. I just don't like being put in that kind of position."

Thompson did not offer an explanation for Rydalch's name appearing on the list, but denied any wrongdoing.

"There's nothing on there intentionally that shouldn't be on there," he said.

Sen. Dean Mortimer, who is listed as a "key supporter," said he likewise did not authorize his listing.

"I wish I would have known, and I wish I would have been asked," he said.

Another name listed as a "supporter" is Mitch Toryanski, Republican candidate for Idaho secretary of state. In an email to the Post Register, Toryanski said he also has endorsed Yates. And Thompson is listed as supporting one of Toryanski's opponents, Evan Frasure of Pocatello.

NOT 'OFFICIAL'

Thompson also lists several "official endorsements," many of which he has not received for the May 20 contest. At the top of his list is an endorsement by the National Rifle Association, but Andrew Arulanandam, director of public affairs for the NRA, said in an email that the organization hasn't endorsed a candidate in the race. Thompson has a B+ rating from the organization.

Thompson said he was endorsed by the Idaho Farm Bureau, but a spokesman said the Farm Bureau does not officially endorse candidates. Thompson has received donations from AGRA PAC, the Farm Bureau's political action committee. His 2013 voting record received a 91.67 percent rating, and he did receive the Farm Bureau's "Friend of Agriculture" award.

Suzanne Budge, Idaho director of the National Federation of Independent Business, said the organization has not yet endorsed anyone in the race, though Thompson's list includes its endorsement.

The Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry confirmed it had endorsed Thompson, as he listed on his website, as did the Idaho Association of General Contractors and Idaho Chooses Life.

WHAT ABOUT ROMNEY?

Curiously, a photo of Thompson alongside former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and U.S. Sen. Jim Risch is the first thing people see when they open the endorsements page on Thompson's website.

Neither is listed among supporters, but in March, Thompson told Spokesman-Review reporter Betsy Z. Russell that Romney had given him his seal of approval at a March 19 rally in Idaho Falls for Risch and fellow Republicans Gov. Butch Otter and U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson.

"It went great," Thompson told Russell. "He endorsed me."

"He used my name at an event supporting my candidacy," Thompson said Tuesday. "He and the governor were there speaking to the crowd and both of them turned and made comments - I don't remember the exact comments - to the effect of we need to support and elect people like Rep. Thompson.

"Anybody who would have heard that would have said it was support, it was an endorsement."

Efforts to reach officials with Romney's camp were unsuccessful.

Thompson called the revelation a "learning opportunity."

"At the end of the day we'll all remain friends and move forward," Thompson said.

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