Group pulls plug on Nampa house raffle

After three days — and after 47 people bought tickets at $100 apiece — a house raffle to support the ailing Nampa School District has come to an abrupt halt.

The Middleton nonprofit group Enriching Endowments Inc. shut down its Internet site Saturday, after receiving a letter from the Idaho Lottery that said the fundraiser “may be in violation of several state and federal laws.”

The ticket proceeds will be refunded, said Philip Allaire, the Middleton retiree who proposed the house raffle. “I’m not going to be accused to taking anybody’s money,” Allaire said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

The state lottery’s letter outlines several problems with the raffle.

  • The lottery questioned a plan that would reimburse the nonprofit for purchasing and renovating the first home up for raffle: a 950-square-foot house in Nampa. Enriching Endowments had paid nothing to acquire or renovate the house; those costs were incurred by a third party — Luna Property LLC, of which Allaire is a co-owner. Since Enriching Endowments had incurred no costs, and since Luna Property had donated the home to Enriching Endowments, neither party would be eligible for reimbursement under state rule.
  • Enriching Endowments planned to sell raffle tickets over the Internet, a violation of state law.
  • A date for a drawing had not been set, as required by state law. Enriching Endowments planned to sell 2,500 tickets for the first house raffle, and any subsequent raffle, and hold a drawing after the tickets sold out.

In a news release Tuesday, Enriching Endowments blasted the lottery’s “obstinate attitudes and positions.”

“Despite the charitable purpose espoused by the Idaho Lottery, and in particular the objective of benefiting Idaho schools, Enriching Endowments was met with unforeseen and unrelenting resistance from the Idaho Lottery.”

When Allaire unveiled the house raffle on Wednesday, he touted it as a plan to reduce Nampa’s deficit by $4.3 million.

Allaire said he planned to purchase and refurbish 40 Nampa homes, and sell 2,500 tickets for each house raffle — a total of 100,000 tickets, or $10 million in ticket sales. Allaire would be reimbursed for the purchases and repairs, and the district would receive $4.3 million in proceeds.

The first raffle had drawn 3,200 hits to the nonprofit’s website, he said, but only 47 ticket sales.

Allaire said last week that he had worked with the Idaho Lottery on his plans. He said the latest letter from lottery officials left him heartbroken and frustrated.

“It’s just been one thing after another,” Allaire said. “We’ve decided we can’t continue to operate like this.”

The Nampa district has taken several steps to cut into a $5.1 million deficit — from closing Sunny Ridge Elementary School to cutting 27 teaching jobs and 4 ½ administrative positions to outsourcing custodial services. The district hasn’t eliminated the entire deficit, and faces a self-imposed June 18 deadline to balance its 2013-14 budget.

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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