School choice PAC: Statehouse opponents are targets

A group pushing for state funding of private schools has put almost $228,000 into legislative primaries.

And the Idaho Federation for Children PAC is making no secret of its intentions: It is going after lawmakers who helped kill a private school tax credit earlier this year.

“If you’re a candidate or lawmaker who opposes school choice – you’re a target,” Nathaniel Cunneen, the American Federation for Children’s director of strategic analysis, said in an email to Idaho Education News. “We intend to ensure their constituents know where they stand on education freedom. We will continue to fight alongside parents to deliver opportunities for Idaho’s kids.”

The bulk of the Idaho Federation for Children PAC’s $227,715 has gone into negative campaigning. The group has spent about $57,000 apiece against Reps. Melissa Durrant, R-Kuna, and Richard Cheatum, R-Pocatello, and almost $53,000 targeting Rep. Kenny Wroten, R-Nampa.

The three lawmakers cast decisive swing votes in March, when the House Revenue and Taxation Committee killed a controversial bill to create a $50 million private school tax credit and grant program. The bill was supported by AFC and other advocates for school choice, a loose term attached to the tax credit and similar proposals to move public money into private schools.

The Idaho Federation for Children has spent about $21,000 apiece supporting Sen. Julie VanOrden, R-Pingree, and Rep. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls, and a little more than $19,000 supporting Senate President Pro Tem Chuck Winder, R-Boise. Horman was a lead sponsor of the tax credit bill.

“If you’re a champion for parents – we’ll be your shield,” Cunneen said.

The Idaho Federation for Children PAC is headquartered in Maryland. In April, the group received a $400,000 contribution from the AFC Victory Fund in Alexandria, Va.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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