A group seeking to avoid being forced to reveal donors whose $200,000 financed TV ads promoting public schools chief Tom Luna’s education overhaul filed a request Oct. 25 to move the case to federal court.
The effort by Education Voters of Idaho came just hours before a state judge in Boise is scheduled Oct. 26 to consider Secretary of State Ben Ysursa’s demand that the group disclose its donors.
Education Voters of Idaho, whose founders include Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s campaign manager, Debbie Field, and former Gov. Dirk Kempthorne’s chief of staff, Phil Reberger, contributed more than $200,350 to a related political action committee, Parents for Education Reform, for broadcast advertising meant to help save the overhaul on Nov. 6.
Ysursa argues the group is required by Idaho’s 38-year-old Sunshine Law to disclose its donors.
But group attorney Christ Troupis has said his client is a nonprofit, 501(c)4 organization that’s allowed under federal law to shield donors’ identities to preserve their free-speech rights.
In his filing in U.S. District Court, Troupis maintains that Education Voters of Idaho has 1st Amendment and 14th Amendment constitutional claims.
Luna’s education changes limit union bargaining power, promote teacher merit pay, and require online classes and student laptop computers.
This dispute has made headlines ahead of the Nov. 6 vote on whether Luna’s overhaul will survive.
Deputy Secretary of State Tim Hurst told The Associated Press Oct. 25 that lawyers from the Idaho attorney general’s office were reviewing Troupis’ filing before deciding how to respond.
Fourth District Judge Deborah Bail was due to consider Ysursa’s motion for a temporary restraining order at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 26 in her Boise courtroom.
Ysursa wants donors’ names disclosed by Nov. 2, four days before the election, in a bid to inform voters of just who is behind the group.