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Follow the money: Firefighters, Freedom Foundation, library & stadium opponents spend into Boise races

The Sundance Company
Boise Mayoral Election

The first filing deadline for campaign finance reports was last week. (See the Idaho Press’ excellent roundup here). While much of the attention focused on the candidates – the filings behind political action committees add texture to some of the hottest races.

BoiseDev did the digging. Here’s what you need to know.

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Firefighters start spending cash on TV

The Boise Fire Fighters PAC has already been active, spending money and giving to another political action committee.

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The PAC made two donations in its filing – totaling $16,000, to the Bright Future Boise PAC. It initially said the address for Bright Future Boise was the home address of candidate Lauren McLean. But after questions arose, the PAC amended its filing to a PO Box. McLean previously had a similarly named Boise Future PAC – but the two are not related, and the McLean PAC is inactive.

Both the Boise Fire Fighters PAC and Bright Future Boise PAC list Jim Walker as chairman. And both PACs started spending money.

Records with the Federal Communication Commission indicate both PACs are running TV ads.

Bright Future Boise PAC launched ad buys on both KTVB-TV and KIVI-TV this week. The ad schedules and spend amounts are not listed in the FCC public file database. Bright Future Boise also had not filed campaign disclosures with the City of Boise as of Wednesday morning.

The Boise Fire Fighters PAC also signed a contract to spend $17,940 on ads on KBOI-TV (CBS 2) and KYUU-TV (The CW) in coming weeks. The ads will run in sports, news and prime time broadcasts on the station – and started Monday. We scoured several local programs and could not find the TV ads. We’ll update when we find them.

Fire Officers hedge their bets

The Boise Fire Officers PAC, a separate group from the Boise Fire Fighters PAC, maxed out with a $1,000 donation to the Bieter campaign. But the same day, it also gave $250 for Bieter’s competitor Lauren McLean.

It also gave to Patrick Bageant, Meredith Stead and Elaine Clegg.

Dollars flow on both sides of library, stadium

Several policial action committees sprung up around the Boise libary and stadium issues.

Protect Our Libraries, as the Idaho Press first reported, shared resources with the campaign of Dave Bieter, despite his campaign’s initial, false, denial.

It also netted a $1,000 contribution from his campaign in April. Boise council member Scot Ludwig also gave $1,000. Only three other donors gave money to the PAC, including a $5,000 donation from former Micron CEO Mark Durcan and a $10,000 contribution from AJ Balukoff.

The PAC spent the bulk of its money on Facebook advertising. The ads, available in the Facebook ad database, show the PAC looked to tell voters that “outside interests” were behind the petition campaigns.

Concerned Boise Taxpayers, a group headed by former Albertsons CEO Gary Michael and former Idaho Stampede president Bill Ilett is active in the market, with electronic billboards asking folks to vote yes on Boise propositions 1 and 2. A campaign finance disclosure form had not been posted by the city clerk as of Wednesday morning.

Boise Working Together, which helped put the initiatives to constrain how elected officials could spend on the library and stadium projects, raised nearly $12,000. Many of the public names associated with the campaign gave money, as well as CBT’s Gary Michael, and Micron co-founder Ward Parkinson. Its expenditures primarily went to wages – including to Vanishing Boise founder Lori DiCaire.

There are no PACs listed that appear to be spending in opposition to the library and stadium petitions. Bieter told a group in August that he is “pretty confident that (the initiative) would be found unconstitutional.” A Boise Working Together spokesperson disagreed, according to the Idaho Press.

Freedom Foundation spends into the race

SMART Boise, which is operated by the Idaho Freedom Foundation, started spending in September with Facebook ads. The ads promote a report it produced about City of Boise spending, the price of the Boise library, and a Q&A with some of the Boise mayoral candidates.

The ads do not promote any individual candidate but are aimed at issues in the election.

Builders back Arnold

The Building Contractors Association of SW Idaho, which lists many local developers and building interests as donors, laid down some chips for the upcoming elections.

Contributed to Rebecca Arnold, Patrick Bageant, Debbie Lombard-Bloom and Meredith Stead in Boise. It gave money to Joe Palmer and Jessica Perrault in Meridian.

Planned Parenthood backs McLean

Planned Parenthood Votes Idaho PAC maxed out with a $1,000 donation to the McLean campaign. It also backed Meredith Stead and Patrick Bageant with $500 each.

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