Politics & Goverment

Stories about politics, policy, and how government works.

Ada County Statehouse Capitol Building Attorney General Office Wasden
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden has charged two Republicans involved in a highly-scrutinized political action committee for allegedly hiding the source of campaign contributions.

Bonneville GOP Chairman Doyle Beck and former congressional candidate M.C. "Chick" Heileson were charged with a misdemeanor on Friday.

Wasden's office has been investigating the Integrity in Government PAC, based in northern Idaho, since February after multiple questions were raised about the group's contributions.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

In an email to supporters, the Idaho Republican Party boasts that for the first time ever, more Idahoans are registered as Republicans than as Democrats or unaffiliated. The GOP says the March presidential primary recorded the highest turnout ever for a primary in the state.

This comes as no surprise to Jaclyn Kettler, political science professor at Boise State University. She says at the time of the March primary, the Republican presidential nomination was still very much up for grabs.

If you think money has too great a role in Idaho politics, or worry that it could be headed that way, you have until tomorrow to give Idaho voters a chance to decide on some restrictions.

An effort by the political advocacy group Keep Idaho Elections Accountable to reform Idaho’s campaign finance laws needs 48,000 signatures by Saturday to get proposed changes on the ballot in November.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

An initiative to update Idaho’s laws around campaign finance has until Monday at 5 p.m. to reach the signature threshold. Former Democratic state lawmaker Holli Woodings is leading the initiative, called Keep Idaho Elections Accountable.

Woodings says that if the initiative passes muster, voters in November will have the chance to decide how Idaho deals with money in politics.

TASER International / Facebook

A Wall Street Journal investigation this week highlights some possibly shady business practices by Taser, the maker of the eponymous shock device and other police hardware. It uses the Boise Police Department’s nearly $1.5 million body camera deal with Taser last year as an example.

According to the Journal, Taser convinces police departments it is the only company that can provide services in order to secure contracts without having to go through an open bidding process. That’s done, the Journal says, by giving free trips to decision makers.

internet, computer, broadband,
Sean MacEntee / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho officials originally agreed to pay $7.2 million in a settlement over an illegal statewide contract that provided broadband in public schools.

However, a March ruling from the Idaho Supreme Court halted settlement talks after justices upheld a lower court's ruling deeming the $60 million contract was illegal. The surprise ruling came down in the final days of the settlement being finalized.

Bureau of Land Management

The senate subcommittee on public lands, forests and mining will take up a bill Thursday with a long history in southwest Idaho.

Known as the Owyhee Wilderness Areas Boundary Modification Act, the bill amends a 2009 public land management law. Idaho Senator Mike Crapo’s bill would allow ranchers to use motorized vehicles to herd and monitor livestock in the wilderness areas.

Wikimedia Commons

Members of Boise State’s Osher Institute Tuesday heard lectures linking Senator Joseph McCarthy’s Communist witch-hunts of the 1950s to Idaho. History writer Marc Johnson connected the dots between McCarthy and two Idaho elections.

Department of Interior

In an address at the National Geographic Society in Washington D.C., Interior Secretary Sally Jewell stressed the need for what she characterized as a "major course correction" in conservation. Despite her location at the nation's capital, the majority of her comments were about places thousands of miles away. 

Thomas Hart / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho officials on Tuesday voted to use $280,000 of the state's Constitutional Defense Fund to pay legal fees for the opposing side after losing a federal court decision involving work unions.

The 4-0 vote by the Idaho Board of Examiners follows a court order in December.

Idaho lawmakers in 2011 approved the Fairness in Contracting Act making it illegal for unions to subsidize union contract bids to make them competitive with non-union contractor bids.

AP

Anyone who knows 20th century American history knows about Senator Joseph McCarthy and his hunt for Communists in the U.S. And anyone who knows about Idaho history and politics knows about Democratic Senator Frank Church. But what you may not know is that McCarthy's fall contributed to Church's rise.

That’s the theory Marc Johnson is presenting during two lectures Tuesday at Boise State’s Osher Institute. Johnson is a former journalist, adviser to Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus and a long-time behind-the-scenes political player. Now he writes about Idaho and U.S. history.

Aubrey Wieber / YouTube

A Republican central committeeman covertly filmed the head of Idaho's GOP in an effort to bolster his claims that a secret society had been formed to oust certain members from party positions. The video didn't reveal direct evidence of a secret society, but did show the top GOP official criticizing prominent Republicans.

The Post Register reports that Bonneville GOP Chairman Doyle Beck released footage of party Chairman Steve Yates on Thursday.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

An initiative that would halt the refugee resettlement program in Twin Falls did not receive enough signatures to get on the ballot in November.

Supporters of the measure needed nearly 4,000 signatures to put it on the ballot in Twin Falls County. According to the recorder’s office, fewer than one thousand signatures were turned in by Monday's 5:00 p.m. deadline.

Idaho Republican Party / Facebook

Members of Idaho's Republican Party central committee say a secret society has been formed to oust them from their leadership positions.

The men have filed a petition in state district court in eastern Idaho to force Republican officials to give depositions so that members of the alleged secret society can be revealed.

Bryan Smith, a former Idaho congressional candidate, and Doyle Beck, an Idaho Falls businessman, say they cannot file a lawsuit because they do not know enough information about the so-called "clandestine core group."

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

A week ago we woke up to the news that Bernie Sanders had trounced Hillary Clinton in Idaho’s Democratic Primary. Sanders got 78 percent and Clinton got 21 percent. Two weeks before that Ted Cruz beat Donald Trump handily in the state’s Republican primary with 45 percent of the vote to Trump’s 28 percent.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho governor Butch Otter stood in front of reporters Monday and called the legislative session that ended Friday “pretty good.” Later in the press conference with legislative leaders he said lawmakers did a “tremendous job.” Lieutenant Governor Brad Little called it a “great session.” And Speaker of the House Scott Bedke recited a list of people he thought should be happy with it including teachers, students, firefighters and state employees.

Butch Otter
Idaho Statesman

Idaho residents 21 and older will soon be able to carry concealed guns without permits or training under legislation approved by Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter.

The Idaho State Journal reports that Otter signed the bill on Friday, but not without expressing concerns about the new law lacking a training requirement for those who exercise the right to concealed carry.

In a letter to Idaho Senate president and Lt. Gov. Brad Little, he encouraged the Legislature to monitor the implementation of the law to determine if the lack of a training requirement undermines public safety.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Update 3:00 p.m.:

Idaho will remain among the 19 states resisting a key provision of Obamacare. The Idaho Legislature adjourned Friday without agreement on whether to explore an expansion of the Medicaid program.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho finished picking candidates for the Presidential election last week. Now politics watchers are turning their eyes to the state’s May 17 primary election.

The filing deadline for candidates for the Idaho Legislature came and went two weeks ago.

Gary Moncrief is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Boise State, and studies legislatures across the country. Moncrief is the co-author the book “Why States Matter.”

Kyle Green / Idaho Statesman

People stood for hours Tuesday in a line that snaked around several blocks of downtown Boise for a chance to take part in the Idaho Democratic Caucuses. In Bannock County, party faithfuls stood outside in a snowstorm, waiting for their chance. In many parts of Idaho, the caucus system was overwhelmed by an enthusiastic turnout.

Caucuses across the state were expected to close the doors at 7 p.m. Mountain Time. But the line in downtown Boise had already wrapped around three city blocks an hour before the event was supposed to begin, forcing the delay.

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