Who’s spending in Tuesday’s election? A guide to some key players

A complicated — and competing — network of outside groups has funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars into Tuesday’s legislative primaries.

Let’s try to untangle the spider web.

Here’s a rundown of some of the big players — and players with an education connection.

Idaho Liberty PAC

Who are they: This Boise-based PAC has emerged as the preeminent supporter of mainstream Republican incumbents and challengers.

Who funds them: The Idaho Victory Fund is by far the PAC’s largest donor, to the tune of $710,000. The victory fund, in turn, receives most of its money from industry-friendly groups such as Friends of Brad Little.
What they’ve spent: $940,900.

Who they support, and oppose: The PAC supports a roster of mainstream Republicans in tight primaries, but the group has also spent aggressively on negative campaigning. The PAC has spent more than $484,000 targeting four Senate hardliners: Brian Lenney of Nampa; Tammy Nichols of Middleton; Chris Trakel of Caldwell; and Glenneda Zuiderveld of Twin Falls.

Make Liberty Win

Who are they: A conservative group based in Alexandria, Va., and one of this campaign’s largest supporters of hardline Republicans.

Who funds them: One of their big supporters is Young Americans for Liberty, based in Austin, Texas.

What they’ve spent: $655,546.

Who they support, and oppose: While the group generally aligns with hardline incumbents and candidates, 16 dissatisfied lawmakers disavowed themselves from YAL last week. The lawmakers said YAL had failed to give some hardliners the support they need this election — while openly opposing some hardliners.

Make Liberty Win has also aggressively challenged Statehouse leadership, spending nearly $110,000 in an attempt to oust House Speaker Mike Moyle, and $104,000 challenging Senate President Pro Tem Chuck Winder.

Citizens Alliance of Idaho PAC

Who are they: Based in Hayden. Citizens Alliance is headed by Matt Edwards, a prominent hardline supporter from North Idaho.

Who funds them: The Citizens Alliance PAC, based in Fairfax, Va., accounts for $390,000 in contributions. The remaining $10,000 came from Doyle Beck, an Idaho Freedom Foundation board member from Idaho Falls.

What they’ve spent: $398,656, in a single report from Wednesday.

Who they support: Hardline Republican candidates. Their largest beneficiaries are Senate candidate Josh Keyser of Meridian; former state Rep. Karey Hanks of St. Anthony, who is seeking to return to the House; and Lenney.

Idaho Federation for Children PAC

Who are they: An Idaho satellite of a pro-school choice PAC, headquartered in Columbia, Md.

Who funds them: The American Federation for Children’s Victory Fund, based in Alexandria, Va., contributed $400,000 to the Idaho PAC on April 14.

What they’ve spent: $302,953 in April and May.

Who they support, and oppose: The PAC is targeting three House Revenue and Taxation Committee Republicans who helped kill a bill to siphon $50 million in private school support: Reps. Melissa Durrant of Kuna; Richard Cheatum of Pocatello; and Kenny Wroten of Nampa. The PAC is supporting Winder; Sen. Julie VanOrden, R-Pingree; and Rep. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls.

Idaho Freedom Caucus PAC

Who are they: This PAC, based in Coeur d’Alene, is aligned with the Statehouse’s hardline Freedom Caucus. Its chair is retiring, Rep. Mike Kingsley, R-Lewiston. Its treasurer is Rep. Elaine Price, R-Coeur d’Alene.

Who funds them: The PAC’s largest donors, at $25,000 apiece, are Larry Williams, a Boisean who frequently contributes to conservative candidates, and Money Metals Exchange of Eagle.

What they’ve spent: $156,774 in April and May.

Who they support: Hardline conservative incumbents, with some spending against their moderate opponents. The group has spent most heavily supporting Rep. Jacyn Gallagher, R-Weiser, and Zuiderveld.

Right 2 Learn

Who are they: The Boise-based PAC describes itself as a Republic organization that mobilized because “out-of-state special interests are targeting Idaho with taxpayer-subsidized private school voucher schemes.”

Who funds them: Its largest donor is the Idaho Education Association’s Political Action Committee for Education, which has donated $90,000.

What they’ve spent: $122,442.

Who they support, and oppose: Right 2 Learn’s primary focus is a House race in Bonneville County. The group has spent nearly $28,000 targeting Horman — the powerful co-chair of the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, and an ardent supporter of using taxpayer money to support private schools. Right 2 Learn has also spent about $44,500 supporting one of Horman’s opponents, Ammon Mayor Sean Coletti, who is running on a platform opposing school choice.

Retire Career Politicians

Who are they: A Washington, D.C.,-based PAC.

Who funds them: Unknown. The PAC has pledged to file paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission.

What they’ve spent: $76,000.

Who they oppose: Moyle. All $76,000 has gone into negative campaigning against Moyle, R-Star, who is seeking a 14th term.

ID Family PAC

Who are they: Based in Boise. Its chair, Christian Welp, is director of diocesan projects for the Catholic Church’s Diocese of Boise.

Who funds them: The PAC has reported just two donations, a combined $80,000 from Williams and his wife, Marianne.

What they’ve spent: $37,082 in May.

Who they support: Key beneficiaries include Sen. Ben Adams, R-Nampa; Rep. Tina Lambert, R-Caldwell; and Senate candidates Brenda Bourn of Meridian and Joshua Kohl of Twin Falls.


Who are they: An Idaho Falls-based company, specializing in personal care products.

Who funds them: Melaleuca’s CEO Frank VanderSloot and his wife Belinda are prominent GOP donors.

What they’ve spent: $33,156.

Who they support: All of this money has gone into Horman’s primary, supporting the incumbent and opposing her challengers, Coletti and Bryan Smith. (The VanderSloots have also contributed personally to Horman’s campaign.)

Sound Money Defense League

Who are they: An Eagle-based PAC with ties to the precious metals trade and hardline donors.

Who funds them: That’s not completely clear. But the league shares a post office box with SMC Properties. SMC and its owner, Stefan Gleason of Charlotte, N.C., are frequent contributors to conservatives.

What they’ve spent: $31,940.

Who they support: Moyle. All of its spending has been in support of Moyle.

Idaho Deserves Better

Who are they: Based in Moscow.

Who funds them: Their biggest donor is Gabriella Green, the wife of University of Idaho President C. Scott Green. She gave the PAC $25,200.

What they’ve spent: $18,605 in April.

Who they oppose: All of the PAC’S spending has gone into negative campaigning against Sen. Dan Foreman, R-Viola, a hardline conservative who represents Latah County.

Idaho Freedom PAC

Who are they: Based in Boise. Its chair, Ryan Spoon, is the Ada County Republican Party’s first vice chair. Its treasurer, Dustin Hurst, is a former employee of the Idaho Freedom Foundation.

Who funds them: Contributions include $10,000 from SMC Properties, and $1,800 from former West Ada school board candidate Tom Moore.

What they’ve spent: $14,291.

Who they support, and oppose: The PAC is spending on behalf of Foreman and Zuiderveld, and has spent $3,500 opposing Tuesday’s West Ada supplemental schools levy.

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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