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Strategies 360 sues two former Idaho employees

Strategic consulting and lobbying firm Strategies 360 Inc. is suing two former Idaho employees for stealing its clients.

The Seattle-based firm accuses John Foster and Kate Haas of breach of contract, violation of the Idaho Trade Secrets Act, breach of duty and loyalty, and breach of duty and confidentiality.

Strategies 360 fired Foster and Haas in early February, not long after Foster announced plans to work for Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter on promoting an Idaho education reform plan. In the complaint, filed in Ada County Fourth District Court in Boise, Strategies 360 said the two worked with “an unauthorized client.”

The lobbying and consulting company is known for working with Democratic and “progressive” clients, such as employee unions.

Foster, who has set up a new consulting shop with Haas, said the lawsuit is baseless.

“Honesty, integrity, discretion and candor are at the forefront of the work that we do, and those values are the foundation of the relationships we build,” Foster said in a statement. “That is why it is so disappointing to see our former employer reject those values by engaging in unfounded, destructive and public litigation. We were completely forthcoming in all that we did for Strategies 360, and are confident that we will prevail.”

Strategies 360 wants the court to award financial damages exceeding $10,000, plus interest and attorney’s fees. The company also seeks a court injunction barring them from using Strategies 360’s confidential or trade-secret information, destroying documents or information, and unfairly competing. Boise attorneys Shelly C. Shannahan and Christine Salmi of the Perkins Coie firm filed an original complaint Feb. 28 and an amended version with clarifying language March 2.

The complaint says Foster and Haas signed agreements stating that if they were fired, they could not compete with Strategies 360 for a year. After they were fired in February, however, Strategies 360 closed down its Boise operation. It has no other offices in Idaho.

The two have started a new firm in Boise called Kestrel West. The complaint alleges that the new firm has solicited clients from Strategies  using confidential information, such as customer lists.

The Idaho Business Review contacted representatives for several of Foster and Haas’ former and current clients, including the Idaho Petroleum Council, the Idaho Association of Building Officials and the Idaho Press Club. All of organizations contacted said they were not solicited by Foster or Haas following the closure of Strategies 360 in Boise, but came to do business with the two on their own accord.

Strategies 360 hired Foster in November 2010 as senior vice president of Idaho operations to lead its new Idaho office. Haas was hired in February 2011 as vice president of Idaho public policy. Both had previously worked for former U.S. Rep. Walt Minnick, D-Idaho.

Foster was managing editor of Idaho Business Review in 2006 and 2007.

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  1. Mitch, Idaho Dems are long past that opportunity. There’s not enough ‘house’ to clean or ‘souls’ to search; the smart and courageous ones have left the state. Who has 10-20 years of their life to devote to this, where others are so brainwashed or dispirited as to be completely apathetic? Even if there’s a total economic trainwreck (my belief), the same putzes would just pick-up and do the same all over again.

  2. We once had some Democrats once that weren’t hapless. Like them or not, Frank Church and Cecil Andrus carried some water a long time ago. I have to say that floating Mr. Minnick as a candidate was a pretty poor and short-sighted idea. The D’s gained very little from his tenure in the House and lost a lot of credibility with the base in the process. That party has some house-cleaning and soul-searching to do if they ever want to be viable in this state again. Even then it will take years.

  3. Isn’t it funny that the hapless Idaho ex-Democrats (are there any other kind?), Foster & Haas, are about to get tripped up by a statute their arch-nemesis, Frank Vandersloot, had passed to protect his interests?

    Hey, welcome to Idaho, the “indentured-servant state”.