A mysterious $1,000 donor to the Ybarra campaign

Sherri Ybarra’s most recent — and modest — campaign fundraising haul includes one mysterious $1,000 donation.

The donor: KHSE LLC, of Fairfax Station, Va.

Never heard of them? Don’t feel bad. No one seems to have gotten to the bottom of who KHSE is — or who they represent. And considering KHSE’s $1,000 represents nearly a tenth of the $11,805 Ybarra raised from Jan. 1 through April 29, the KHSE money doesn’t exactly get lost in the shuffle.

So, who are these folks?

According to the nonprofit and nonpartisan National Institute on Money in State Politics, KHSE has given $14,000 over the past three years, including $2,000 to former Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican; and $10,000 to the Florida Republican Party. But, according to the institute, “the industry of this entity has not been determined.”

KHSE’s mysterious paper trail goes back further. In 2013, the PAC contributed $2,500 to Ken Cuccinelli, a Republican gubernatorial candidate in Virginia. WWBT TV in Richmond, Va., looked into the donation and, well, ran into radio silence.

“(KHSE claims) to be a radio station,” WWBT reported on its Decision Virginia blog site. “The trouble is there is no such thing as a radio station called KHSE anywhere in Virginia or Fairfax Station.”

KHSE also has gotten involved in national politics.

The Washington Post reported that KHSE was incorporated in Delaware in 2007, and in 2014, it gave $25,000 to the Unlocking Potential PAC, headed by former Hewlett-Packard chief Carly Fiorina. In 2016, KHSE gave $10,000 to a PAC supporting Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential bid. But the Post lumped KHSE into a list of “ghost corporations” pouring money into the 2016 election.

“(KHSE lists) as its address a stretch of wooded area in Fairfax Station, Va.,” wrote the Post’s Matea Gold. “However, the address does not exist in Fairfax County property records.”

The Ybarra donation is not KHSE’s sole foray into the 2018 Idaho elections. The group gave $1,000 to the Esto Perpetua PAC in Boise. The PAC has since funneled much of its 2018 contributions to Risch Pisca PLLC, a Boise lobbying firm, and the Idaho Prosperity Fund, which is run by the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, a prominent Statehouse business lobbying group.

And what about KHSE’s April 23 donation to Ybarra?

“I don’t know anything about them,” said Timothy McMurtrey, Ybarra’s campaign treasurer. “I just collect the checks and deposit them.”

I’ve reached out to the Ybarra campaign for information about the donation, and have received no response. I will update this blog if I get more information.

The last big fundraising reports are due this week, ahead of the May 15 primary elections. Check back at Idaho Education News for the latest news.

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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