July 23, 2008

Correction from Idaho Democrats: Idaho IS For Sale

Posted by Adam Graham in : Idaho Conservative, The

Does anyone remember this?


Two years ago this was the rallying cry of the Democrats in Idaho, their nominee for Governor, Jerry Brady, in particular shouted the phrase.  And it was used against Bill Sali, then a Candidate for Congress who received support from economic conservatives around the country through the Club for Growth. Back then Idaho liberals were shocked, yes, shocked that people from outside Idaho would try to support candidates in our election.

Democrats breathlessly warned of out-of-staters invading the State’s political process. “Idaho’s not for sale” was their rallying cry.

Idaho Democrats were hypocritical then, as Larry Grant’s campaign lapped up cash from Congressional leaders and labor unions.

Now, though like the pigs in Aminal Farm who wrote, “All Animals Are Equal” and then painted below it, “But some are more equal than others,” the Democratic Party is changing their slogan to,  “Idaho is Not for Sale–Unless We’re Doing the Selling.”

Bryan Fischer made the following point in his update today:

Democrats couldn’t criticize Bill Sali enough for the out-of-state help he received in 2006. Let’s see if they will get as exercised about news that Walt Minnick is going to get $349,000 in purchased ad time from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which of course is based in Washington, D.C. and is as out-of-state as it is possible to get.

Fischer’s mention of the DCCC money led me to check out a breakdown of Walt Minnick (D) and guess what I found?

According to data compiled on campaign contributions for Democratic Nominee Walter Minnick by the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, seventy-one percent of Minnick’s money is coming from out of state.

While these reports are not complete, they indicate a huge amount of out-of-state fundraising.  This does show the hypocrisy of the Idaho Democratic Party, as well as of the Idaho mainstream press, which breathlessly reported what percentage of Bill Sali’s contributions were out-of-state. Now the story is non-news.

It is not just where the money comes from, but the who. I was never bothered by where money was coming from, but the question of who is a big concern. Bill Sali was being financed by principled economic conservatives. Such is not the case with Walt Minnick.

What type of values will Walt Minnick represent in Congress? Perhaps we can take a hint from where Minnick’s money has come from. His top metropolitan area is New York City. The campaign isn’t over, and according to the Center for Responsive Politics, Minnick has already raised nearly five times as much from the New York City area as Larry Grant and Bill Sali combined in the 2006 cycle.

Just what Idaho needs: A Congressman with New York values. Over the coming days, we’ll share with you what some of these values are, so that you know what liberal interests want to buy this seat and elect Walt Minnick (D-NY) to Congress.

In the meantime, let me say that what we’ve seen going on here is journalistic malpractice. Bill Sali gets big out-of-state support in 2006 and its headlines everywhere and whispers about the “shadowy Club for Growth.” Fair-minded Idahoans should demand to know why the Statesman is treating Walt Minnick in 2008 different than Bill Sali in 2006.


In the comments, Bubblehead asks:

“The numbers on this page are calculated from contributions of more than $200 from individuals, as reported to the Federal Election Commission. PAC dollars are not included.”

Really, Adam? You’d sink so low as to use data from a source with such skewed methodology and try to pass it off as actual information?

Why would I not find a site that includes contributions under $200? Answer: Those contributions are not required to be reported by the FEC. Therefore, what most Congressional candidates do is put in a total number of unitemized contributions plus the total amount. As the FEC doesn’t report this amount on the website, and there’s no breakdown of it, there’s no way to calculate this normally.

Walt Minnick’s Treasurer, apparently not knowing what he was doing did itemize all of his unitemized contributions (including amounts of $3, $4.62, and $5.69) which is how he ended up with an extremely large 300 page FEC report.

Because Walt Minnick chose to report this information, it doesn’t mean it goes into the FEC database (sorry to break it to the person who gave $4.62), in order to compare apples to apples, you compare itemized contributions to itemized contributions.

Bubblehead alleges:

A quick look at Minnick’s most recent campaign finance report shows that the vast majority of his contributors are people making small (under $200) donations from here in Idaho.

I never said the vast majority of his contributors came from out of state, I said the vast majority of his money came from out of state. The vast majority of Bill Sali’s contributors are/were in-state small contributors, that’s the case with nearly every campaign. I went through the report (because as this is because a stupid blog war one has to do these type of things) and I found as one would expect that most of Minnick’s small contributions came from Idaho (not from Boise proper necessarily.) Here’s the way I calculated it:

From Idaho: $21,055.77

From Out of State: $5,053.62

From Boise: $11,988.77

From New York City: $575

So, while Boise passes New York (a lot of small donor money came in from Portland and San Francisco.), the total difference in small Donor money between in-state and out is $15,002.25 with the YTD totals from Minnick’s report. Now, there were probably other small contributions on other reports. I’m not OCD enough to go and go through them. The difference in the donations that are actually itemized for everyone to see is $220,121. This $15,002.25 is not even 7% of Minnick’s In-State v. Out-of-State gap.

All that any media outlet that measures In v. Out of State contributions has is the Itemized contributions. They can’t use unitemized contributions, and I’m not going to either. So, when I’m talking out of State Contributions, for future reference, I’m using Itemized Individual Contributions, which is what the media uses. And I and Bryan Fischer are both correct in using that figure.   

Bubblehead goes on to say:

If you go to the page that has the PAC dollars, which one can assume are mostly from out of state, you’ll see that Sali has outraised Minnick in that category, as of June 30th, by $381K to $45.5K.)

The point is actually not Sali, but rather Idaho Democrats who went around shouting, “Idaho is not for sale” and are raking in big contributions from out of state. If they hadn’t been so blasted sanctimonious in 2006, I wouldn’t be writing this now.


  1. Comment by Bubblehead

    And when you’re done, and if it turns out that Bill Sali is still getting a higher percentage of his money from out of state than Walt Minnick (assuming the Sali campaign ever figures out how to file their statement), will that change your conclusion?

  2. Comment by Adam Graham

    No, I doubt Sali will end up with 71% out of state contributions. My position is:

    1) Idaho Democrats are hypocrites for saying, “Idaho is not for sale” and then taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in out of state contributions without blinking an eye.

    2) The media is being horribly biased in not covering Minnick’s big out of state bucks.

    3) I don’t think Idaho should elect a Congressman with New York values.

  3. Comment by Bubblehead

    I bet Sali’s take from out of state will be a lot more than 71%. (Remember he got $66K from one D.C. event, and he only raised about $155K during the last reporting period overall.) And what happened to the claims of “San Francisco values”? Was that not playing as well? Will you include a discussion of NYC police and firefighters and their “New York” values? How about Wall Street financiers? West Point cadets?

    I, as a realist, am perfectly willing to admit that Idaho Democrats should, and apparently have, learned the lessons from Sali’s 2006 win that 1) out of state money is important for winning Idaho elections, and 2) no one really gives a crap when it’s all said and done. My guess is that the press will discuss Minnick’s out of state fundraising, but they’ll want to compare it with Sali’s, and — darn it — they still don’t have those numbers from the Sali campaign, 8 days after the filing deadline.

  4. Comment by Adam Graham

    New York Police Officers and Firefighters aren’t handing in $2300 checks or $200 Checks to an Idaho Congressional Candidate. Neither are West Point Cadets.

    Idaho Democrats are pragmatists who, if Minnick is elected, will start making excuses when he goes up there and does the bidding of the Congressional Democrats that tried to go under the radar screen including New York’s Charlie Rangel (D-NY) whose PAC gave $5000 to Mr. Grant. Congressman Rangel got Federal Earmarks for his own personal project (The Charlie Rangel Center for Public Service.) at the City College of New York and used his position as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee to lobby for funds for said project.

    Every single House Freshman Democrat voted to fund this pork project and you can bet Larry Grant or Wally Minnick would have to. Bill Sali said no and it’s no wonder the New York political establishment is coming after him.

  5. Comment by Bubblehead

    Hey, I finally went and read your source data on the 71% for Minnick, and here’s what I found about the methodology: “The numbers on this page are calculated from contributions of more than $200 from individuals, as reported to the Federal Election Commission. PAC dollars are not included.”

    Really, Adam? You’d sink so low as to use data from a source with such skewed methodology and try to pass it off as actual information?

  6. Comment by Bubblehead

    Thanks for the update, Adam. I note that you say that Bryan Fischer is correct for using only a small portion of donations to claim that 71% of Minnick’s contributions comes from out of state. While you correctly label the money in question as “contributions’, Fischer is and remains completely incorrect, because he says that 71% of Minnick’s “campaign funds” come from out of state. Since “campaign funds” would seem to mean, to any reasonable individual, funds used to run the campaign (and which would include individual donations, PAC donations, and donations the candidate makes to themselves, among other things), Fischer is clearly wrong. Would you agree? I even E-mailed Mr. Fischer to point out that discrepancy, and he refused to retract his clear error. I have more on Mr. Fischer’s problems with reading and interpreting the official English language here: http://bubbleheads.blogspot.com/2008/07/idahos-dogmatists-day-late-and-dollar.html

  7. Comment by Bubblehead

    Sorry, I didn’t see you’d already linked to my post. In any event, your main thrust seems to be that Idaho Democrats are hypocrites for saying one thing in 2006 and doing another in 2008. I submit that Idaho Democrats learned a valuable lesson from the 2006 election, and decided to apply some of Sali’s principles to their own campaign. Isn’t imitation a form of flattery? Isn’t it reasonable that people could gain new information, process it, and change their actions and attitudes as a result of the new information gained? I realize that’s a foreign concept for many conservative dogmatists, but trust me… people do it all the time.

  8. Comment by Adam Graham

    Look if you add PACs in there, I think it adds up to probably more than 71%. According to the FEC, Minnick has received more than $100,000 in PACs once that’s all processed that should change on the website as there’s almost no Idaho Federals PACs. You want to throw in his own contributions and that’s about the only way you have an argument. Personally, to me it seems like you’re trying to make an “angels dancing on the head of a pin” argument.

    As for the Idaho Democrats. It’s very convenient when people gain “perspective” when it benefits them to do something they attacked as immoral. What’s changed is that they have the power and people from New York, San Francisco, and the Portland area willing to come in and spend the funds. If the Democrats acknowledged they’d changed their minds that’d be one thing. To just brag about the money while never telling us the source and pretending like nothing’s changed is downright Orwellian.

  9. Comment by Bubblehead

    And now that you insist on including the PACs, Bill Sali’s percentage from out of state goes up well above 71%, so it looks like your guess in comment #2 is out the window. (As you said, there are “almost no Idaho Federal PACs”.) And since Walt’s contributions to his own campaign are clearly “campaign funds” by any reasonable definition of the term, it remains that Bryan Fischer is still wrong.

  10. Comment by eva grecius

    This is approaching how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Adam, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Seriously, man, your interpretations are not only amateur, they’re downright bizarre. And where were you when Sali took all that blood money from the Club for Growth? Where is your denuciation of that?
    For those of us who know Minnick, saying he has New York values is hilarious. He is the most relentlessly outdoorsy Idaho guy I know…his idea of a great day is coming home covered in mud from hiking, rafting, flyfishing, camping or climbing, and he doesn’t do it every now and then – it’s the way he’s been all his life. It’s not for politics, and it’s not for show, and you wouldn’t catch him in New York City unless he really, really couldn’t get out of it.

  11. Comment by Adam Graham

    First of all, Bubbs, my point is that you’re dodging the point, not that we should count or not count PACs. The point is that he is New York-funded and it’s hypocrisy from where Democrats stood just two years ago and Democrats switch is just convenience.

    Secondly, Eva, if being “Idaho” is simply going outdoors and enjoying hiking, I think that’s kind of shallow. You can enjoy all the things you’re saying in Vermont. He may not like New York, but New York sure as heck likes him. They ain’t sending him money so he can go out and smell flowers.

    Third, Bill Sali didn’t take blood money from an organization that makes its money, destroying human lives. That’d be Mr. Minnick. Club for Growth is for less governnment and Bill Sali has gone up and fought the irresponsibility of your party in wasting billions of tax dollars on boondoggles.

  12. Comment by Bubblehead

    And Bill Sali is Texas-funded. I think you’ll find there are lots of 1st District Idahoans who aren’t that happy about Congressman Sali doing the bidding of the Big Oil companies without exception. We’ll find out in November who was right.

  13. Comment by Adam Graham

    I prefer Texas to New York and I think most Idahoans will too. As for Big Oil, I think it is pure demogoguery to villify them when their margins are actually quite reasonable. The problem is a lack of supply and House Democrats aren’t going to solve that by implementing the failed ideas of Jimmy Carter.

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