A judge has ordered a group campaigning for Idaho’s Propositions 1, 2 and 3 to reveal its donors. But that doesn’t mean the list of names will be public any time soon.
District Judge Michael Wetherell joked at the end of Monday’s hearing that no matter what he decided one side would immediately run to the state Supreme Court. Even before Wetherell ruled in favor of Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa over the group Education Voters of Idaho, both sides confirmed appeals would be made.
Ed Voters was created in August along with another group that shares its address and leadership. Ed Voters collected money, then gave it to the second group to buy advertising in favor of Propositions 1, 2, and 3. Those ask voters if they want to keep the state’s Students Come First education laws.
Ysursa says it’s essential that voters know who is trying to influence them before the election. He says his goal remains pre-election disclosure.
“We will fight very, very hard to achieve that goal,” Ysursa says. “Mr. Troupis is representing his clients, and if there was some sort of way to delay this it was probably in the interest of his clients.”
Mr. Troupis is Christ Troupis, the lawyer for Education Voters. He says he’s not trying to stall the process until after the election. He says it’s an important issue that needs a Supreme Court ruling.
Ysursa has emotionally resonant issues like openness in government on his side. Troupis is also calling upon larger themes. Troupis says the case is not about who gave his client 200 thousand dollars to try to convince voters to keep Students Come First. He says it’s about avoiding a dangerous precedent.
“We feel like we are on a watch tower and we have to stem the tide,” Troupis says. “You heard [Deputy] Attorney General Brian Cane say ‘well, we may have to file other lawsuits.’ We want to stop that, or else free speech is at jeopardy in the state of Idaho.”
Troupis argues that if the Secretary can force his client to reveal its funding source, he can force companies like Boise’s Micron Technology to release its financial records because it gives to its own political committee. Ysursa calls the comparison hyperbole. He says Education Voters is not a company like Micron, it’s a political committee created to raise money to influence this election.