Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Idaho initiative receives nationwide funding

Libertarian foundations support Proposition 2

Express Staff Writer

Although Proposition 2 is all about the power of local governments, the campaigns for both sides have been funded largely by out-of-state contributors. The proponents' campaign chest dwarfs that of the initiative's opponents.

In its most recent financial disclosure report, submitted to the Idaho secretary of state on Oct. 10, This House Is MY Home, the Boise-based organization promoting the initiative, revealed that 84 percent of its $413,804 in funding has came from two organizations. The Fund for Democracy, founded by New York real estate developer Howard Rich to provide seed money to state initiatives that would curtail government power, donated $237,000.

This House Is MY Home has received $110,000 from America At Its Best, which, according to the financial disclosure report, is based in Kalispell, Mont. However, This House Is MY Home Chairman Laird Maxwell said he chairs that organization as well. Various media stories have named Rich as a primary funding source for America At Its Best. Maxwell said Rich had provided seed money to the organization, but he said he was uncertain whether he was still a contributor.

Locally, the pro-Proposition 2 group Citizens for Smart Government reported total contributions of $25,250, almost all of which came from three donors. Hailey residents Harry and Shirley Hagey donated $10,000. Another $10,000 came from Thomas W. Smith, of Greenwich, Conn. Smith is the former chairman of the National Center for Policy Analysis, a Dallas-based organization promoting limited government. Cambridge, Mass., resident Greg Carr donated $5,000. Carr could not be reached to explain his interest in Blaine County politics. The only other contributors were Sun Valley residents Ed and Sue Dumke, who donated $250.

The statewide opponents' organization, Neighbors Protecting Idaho, reported total contributions of $32,195. Of that, $20,000 came from Paul Brainerd, a Seattle software entrepreneur who is president of The Brainerd Foundation, which seeks to protect the environmental quality of the Northwest.

Citizens for Smart Government is not the same group as Blaine County-based Citizens for Smart Growth, which has come out against Proposition 2.

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