UPDATED: U of I president folds more than $7,000 into GOP legislative primaries

(UPDATED, May 15, with additional contributions.)

In an unusual move, University of Idaho President C. Scott Green has donated $7,289.34 to legislative candidates ahead of the May 21 Republican primaries.

One of the donations — the maximum $1,000 allowed under state law — went to Senate President Pro Tem Chuck Winder, R-Boise. This spring, Winder sponsored a bill designed to restructure the U of I’s controversial $685 million plan to acquire the University of Phoenix. The bill died on the Senate floor in late March, throwing the purchase into jeopardy.

Four of the donations went to Reps. Matt Bundy, R-Mountain Home; Lori McCann, R-Lewiston; Britt Raybould, R-Rexburg; and Julie Yamamoto, R-Caldwell. All four opposed a separate House proposal that would have allowed lawmakers to sue to block the Phoenix acquisition. That proposal passed the House but the Senate never took it up.

However, Green also contributed to Rep. Mark Sauter, R-Sandpoint, who supported the Hous-passed resolution.

Here’s a full rundown of Green’s contributions:

  • Lori Bishop: $1,000. Bishop is challenging Sen. Tammy Nichols, R-Middleton.
  • McCann: $1,000.
  • Raybould: $1,000.
  • Winder: $1,000.
  • Jim Woodward: $1,000. A former state senator, Woodward is running against Sen. Scott Herndon, R-Sagle, in a 2022 primary rematch.
  • Sen. Geoffrey Schroeder, R-Mountain Home: $757.94.
  • Jeff Agenbroad: $521.15. A former state senator, Agenbroad is opposing Sen. Brian Lenney, R-Nampa, in another 2022 rematch.
  • Scott Syme: $260.25. Syme, of Wilder, is a former House member who is running for Senate.
  • Bundy: $250.
  • Sauter: $250.
  • Yamamoto: $250.

All donations went to candidates facing primary opposition, particularly from hardline conservative incumbents or challengers.

It’s not common for a state university president to weigh in on partisan primaries. In a May 2 email, U of I spokeswoman Jodi Walker defended the donations from Green and his wife, Gabriella.

“Any political contributions made by Scott or Gabriella Green are from their own resources and are not associated with any university dollars. It is their right, as citizens, to support any candidates of their choosing,” Walker said.

Gabriella Green contributed $25,000 to Idaho Deserves Better, a third-party group that is campaigning against state Sen. Dan Foreman of Viola, a hardline conservative representing Latah County.

A May 1 screenshot listing some of the Greens’ April political contributions, from the Idaho secretary of state’s office website.

The April donations are not C. Scott Green’s first political contributions this election cycle. In August, Green gave $10,000 to New Horizons, a political action committee headed by then-House Majority Leader Megan Blanksma, R-Hammett.

The April donations are not easily pieced together. Campaign finance reports list variations of Green’s name — his first and middle initials, or his first name of Cumer. The reports also list two different addresses: the U of I’s administration building and the U of I’s presidential residence.

“There is no effort to obscure this support, and in fact (the Greens) proudly confirm these donations,” Walker said.

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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