About

Our Mission

Our mission is to make Idaho into a Laboratory of Liberty by exposing, defeating, and replacing the state's socialist public policies.

Our Story

The Idaho Freedom Foundation’s roots can be traced to 1977, when Ralph Smeed and Maurice Clements started the Center for the Study of Market Alternatives (CSMA) in Caldwell. CSMA was years ahead of its time. National organizations existed to promote liberty, but there really were no state-based think tanks working to educate state and local public servants and citizens about free markets and the principles of liberty. In Idaho, CSMA filled the void. Many of Idaho’s political luminaries, including former U.S. Sen. Steve Symms, Northwest Liberty Academy Director Elizabeth Hodge and Foundation for Economic Education President Larry Reed point to Ralph, Maurice and CSMA as playing a pivotal role in their beliefs.

In 2008, Ralph Smeed and Maurice Clements reached out to Wayne Hoffman about starting a new state-focused, free-market think tank dedicated to Idaho issues. At that point, every state in the country had a free market think tank except for Idaho. Ralph and Maurice described their vision for the organization as one that would provide policymakers with free-market solutions and hold those same officials accountable for expanding government.

Coincidently, Idaho native Heather Lauer was also working on a plan to start a think tank in the Gem State. Heather had reached out to Norm Semanko, who connected Wayne and Heather. Together, Wayne and Heather put together the organizational blueprint and the funding to start what became the Idaho Freedom Foundation, which officially launched in January 2009.

The Freedom Foundation quickly developed a reputation as an accurate, independent source for liberty-minded policy innovation and as a tireless watchdog against government waste and marketplace intervention. Three months after its founding, IFF had provided the intellectual ammunition to stop a well-greased effort to raise taxes on cigarettes and alcohol. By August 2009, IFF had launched a government transparency website, and two months later it began producing original journalism, which eventually became IdahoReporter.com.

IFF’s work has been credited with saving taxpayers millions of dollars, eliminating failed government programs and holding politicians accountable like never before in the history of the state.

What We Believe

What if Idaho were the single best state in the nation to live, raise a family, start a business, hold a job and go to school? What if Idaho’s taxes and regulations were so low that our state attracted employers and employees from throughout the country without special incentives and corporate welfare that hurt entrepreneurs? What if our state helped lead our country back toward prosperity, by embracing free market ideas and reducing reliance on a bankrupt federal government?

Answering those questions is at the center of what Idaho Freedom Foundation is about. The Idaho Freedom Foundation exists to advance conservative principles — limited government, free markets and self-reliance — made our country the envy of the world. Unfortunately, special interests have grown in influence in our state, encouraging city, county and state government officials to reject conservative principles. Instead, these special interests advance policies that have resulted in higher taxes, more regulation, and more dependency on Washington, D.C. We aim to turn that around through the advancement of principles that help promote a vibrant, prosperous and free life for all Idahoans.

Idaho Freedom Foundation gives a voice to the voiceless, the people who don’t have the means, the time or the wherewithal to take on the special interests, which include labor unions, the government bureaucracy or businesses that seek a handout. We hold lawmakers accountable when they say one thing and do another, when they promise conservative leadership but then vote to expand government, support special interests or make it harder for Idahoans to get ahead and stay ahead.

Imagine what would happen if Idaho were to have the lowest taxes, the best schools, the least regulatory burden and the least dependency on the federal government of any other state? Imagine what might happen if local people, who know and love Idaho the most, were in charge of our public lands. What if, instead of adding people to government welfare rolls and entitlement programs, Idaho’s charities, churches and communities pitched in to help lift people from poverty?

Our research, journalism, education and advocacy dovetail to help Idaho policymakers make better decisions, rooted in conservative principles, so that Idahoans will be better off.

Our Team

Wayne Hoffman

President

Wayne Hoffman

Wayne Hoffman has been at the helm of Idaho Freedom Foundation since the organization launched in January 2009.

Wayne is considered one of Idaho’s most influential figures in politics and public policy and an expert on an array of issues facing local, state and federal governments. Hoffman has spent three decades writing about and analyzing the laws and regulations that impact individuals, families and businesses. Wayne writes a weekly column, found in newspapers and on websites throughout Idaho, and is often invited to speak on complex issues including taxation, health care, criminal justice and education. His commentaries have also been published by national publications including the Wall Street Journal and Watchdog.org.

As a journalist, Wayne won many prestigious awards for investigative and political reporting. After leaving the news business in 2005, Wayne managed public affairs and communications for two Idaho agencies, wrote speeches for and developed the policies for several successful political campaigns. For two years, he ran the communications operations for a member of Congress. Wayne has two children and lives in Boise.

Dustin Hurst

Vice President

Dustin Hurst

Dustin Hurst serves as the Idaho Freedom Foundation's vice president. Before serving in this position, Dustin worked as IFF's communication director for more than five years.

Before joining the Idaho Freedom Foundation, Dustin worked as a social media coordinator and reporter for Watchdog.org, a national news publication. His work there was featured or recognized by Fox News, Human Events, Reason.com, TownHall.com, Public Sector Inc. HotAir and The Daily Caller, among others.

Dustin, a graduate of Boise State University, lives in Boise with his wife and three wonderful kids. His work at IFF has been featured by Reason, the Foundation for Economic Education, Fox News and other outlets.

Fred Birnbaum

Legislative Affairs Director

Fred Birnbaum

Fred Birnbaum joined the Idaho Freedom Foundation as vice president and chief operating officer after working 25 years in the paper and packaging industry.

Fred now serves as the IFF's Legislative Affairs Director and guides the Foundation's policy efforts.

Most recently he served as director of business and financial analysis for Packaging Corporation of America (formerly Boise Inc.) and has lived in Boise since 2000. His experience in industry includes roles in finance, operations, project management, and factory management.

Fred served in the U.S. Army as a communication staff officer and platoon leader and worked briefly for US Senator John Glenn, as a Military Affairs Fellow, following his Army career He received his master’s degree in business administration (MBA) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Anna K. Miller

Education Policy Director

Anna K. Miller

Anna is the Education Policy Director at Idaho Freedom Foundation. She is an alumni of the MA Fellowship at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. She lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband, Brock. Anna earned her M.A. in Economics from George Mason University (2020) and a B.A. in Philosophy, Religion, and Ancient Greek and Roman Studies as a Division 1 student athlete from Furman University (2017). Anna’s work has been published in the Wall Street Journal, RealClearPolicy, The Hill, The Detroit News, The Washington Examiner, and The Daily Caller among others.

Kaitlyn Shepherd

Research Assistant

Kaitlyn Shepherd

Kaitlyn Shepherd is a research assistant with the Idaho Freedom Foundation. She graduated from Evangel University in 2018 with a bachelor's degree in government and history and from Regent University School of Law in 2021 with a juris doctor. She served as staff editor and managing editor for the Regent University Law Review, and her research on education law and policy was published by the Law Review in December 2020.

Prior to joining the Idaho Freedom Foundation, Kaitlyn worked as an intern and research assistant for legal and policy studies with the Family Research Council, where she conducted research primarily on issues related to domestic religious liberty.
A Minnesota transplant, Kaitlyn enjoys exploring the great outdoors and capturing the beauty of nature with her camera.

Alli Megal

Office Manager

Alli Megal

After living in Wisconsin for many years, Alli returned to her hometown of Boise to be closer to her family.

She graduated from Milwaukee Area Technical College with an Associate’s Degree in accounting then spent seven years running her own small business, pursuing her passion as a Certified Labor and Postpartum Doula, assisting women and couples through their transition into parenthood.

Alli brings 20-plus years of administrative and accounting experience to her new role as the office manager at IFF. She understands the challenges small-business owners face and has a desire to support the staff and clients of IFF in their mission to make the Gem State an even better place to live, work, and start a business.

Alli has two amazing daughters and two wonderful grandchildren. Her hobbies include drawing, writing, cooking, and spending time outdoors swimming, kayaking, and riding her bicycle.

Niklas Kleinworth

Research Intern

Niklas Kleinworth

Niklas is a summer research intern at the Idaho Freedom Foundation. Previously, he conducted research for the University of Idaho on COVID-19 patient management policy in the Gem State and presented his findings to members of the Idaho Legislature during the 2021 legislative session. He will graduate from the University of Idaho with a B.A. in political science and a minor in pre-health professions studies in the summer of 2021. He hopes to continue a career in healthcare policy by completing an M.A. in public health and ultimately attend medical school.

When he is not enveloped in his studies, Niklas enjoys exploring the great scenery that surrounds his hometown of Naples, Idaho.

Dr. John M. Livingston

Medical Policy Adviser

Dr. John M. Livingston

Dr. John M. Livingston serves as the medical policy adviser to the Idaho Freedom Foundation.

Livingston, a Boise resident, performed general and trauma surgery for more than 35 years, including 12 in the U.S. Navy and 25 Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise. He attended medical school at The Ohio State University and interned at Portsmouth Naval Hospital. He performed trauma surgery at Norfolk General Hospital and pediatric trauma surgery at the University of Florida. He also performed trauma surgery at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center and served as a staff surgeon at a naval hospital in Kelfavic, Iceland.

Gov. Butch Otter appointed Dr. Livingston to the Your Health Idaho oversight board in April 2013.

Board of Directors

Brent Regan

Chair
Brent Regan is the founder and president of Regan Designs, specializing in designing electromechanical products for medical, aerospace, defense, marine and automotive industries. He holds 11 U.S. patents for medical devices. An advocate of the free market, Regan has testified in favor of free market health care. He also initiated the North Idaho Conservative Resolution against the federally mandated health insurance exchanges. He has successfully assisted in organizing and opposing Local Improvement Districts in Kootenai County; sponsored legal efforts to protect neighbors’ property from illegal commercial land use; conceived, sponsored and was the master of ceremonies for the Conservative Candidate Forum prior to the 2012 primary; and developed a caucus sign-in procedure and volunteer training for the Kootenai County Republican Caucus. “Leisure” activities have included building and competing in automobile endurance road racing including 24 hours of Daytona (first in class (GTU), third in class (GTP)); six hours of Riverside (third in class); four-hour Sears Point Endurance Race (overall winner, twice); 24 hours of Nelson Ledges (third overall); and three seasons of campaigning 3 fighting robots in the Battlebots series aired nationally on Comedy Central. Regan has lived in Idaho since 1999. He is married with three children.

Brent Regan

Chair
Brent Regan is the founder and president of Regan Designs, specializing in designing electromechanical products for medical, aerospace, defense, marine and automotive industries. He holds 11 U.S. patents for medical devices. An advocate of the free market, Regan has testified in favor of free market health care. He also initiated the North Idaho Conservative Resolution against the federally mandated health insurance exchanges. He has successfully assisted in organizing and opposing Local Improvement Districts in Kootenai County; sponsored legal efforts to protect neighbors’ property from illegal commercial land use; conceived, sponsored and was the master of ceremonies for the Conservative Candidate Forum prior to the 2012 primary; and developed a caucus sign-in procedure and volunteer training for the Kootenai County Republican Caucus. “Leisure” activities have included building and competing in automobile endurance road racing including 24 hours of Daytona (first in class (GTU), third in class (GTP)); six hours of Riverside (third in class); four-hour Sears Point Endurance Race (overall winner, twice); 24 hours of Nelson Ledges (third overall); and three seasons of campaigning 3 fighting robots in the Battlebots series aired nationally on Comedy Central. Regan has lived in Idaho since 1999. He is married with three children.

Bryan Smith

Vice Chair
Bryan Smith is an Idaho Falls attorney who has practiced law for over 30 years. Smith has also owned several small businesses in Southeast Idaho. Smith graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor’s degree having studied English, and Smith graduated from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1989. Smith fully supports the mission of the Idaho Freedom Foundation. Smith also promotes advancing in all arenas free-market principles, limited government where possible, and individual freedom and liberty. Smith advocates that people should be free to succeed or fail without government interference. Smith lives in Idaho falls with his wife Sharon and is the proud father of five awesome children and five grandchildren with more hopefully on the way. Smith’s hobbies include growing tomatoes in his greenhouse and sailing on Bear Lake.

Bryan Smith

Vice Chair
Bryan Smith is an Idaho Falls attorney who has practiced law for over 30 years. Smith has also owned several small businesses in Southeast Idaho. Smith graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor’s degree having studied English, and Smith graduated from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1989. Smith fully supports the mission of the Idaho Freedom Foundation. Smith also promotes advancing in all arenas free-market principles, limited government where possible, and individual freedom and liberty. Smith advocates that people should be free to succeed or fail without government interference. Smith lives in Idaho falls with his wife Sharon and is the proud father of five awesome children and five grandchildren with more hopefully on the way. Smith’s hobbies include growing tomatoes in his greenhouse and sailing on Bear Lake.

Ron Crane

Treasurer
Ron G. Crane was born in Nampa, Idaho. He is a graduate of Nampa Christian High School and later graduated from college with an Associate's Degree. He received an honorary doctorate from Ohio Christian University in 2008. He served as a member in the Idaho National Guard from 1971 -- 1977, receiving recognition as Idaho's Soldier of the Year in 1975. Crane started his own successful business, Crane Alarm Service, in 1979. Today, Crane Alarm is one of the oldest and largest alarm companies in Idaho. He is a member of the Nampa and Caldwell, Idaho Chambers of Commerce, was a founding member of the Lifeline Crisis Pregnancy Center, and serves on the board of trustees for Nampa Christian Schools. Crane has been married to his wife, Cheryl, since 1969. They have six children, four girls and two boys, and seven grandchildren. The Cranes reside in Nampa, Idaho.

Ron Crane

Treasurer
Ron G. Crane was born in Nampa, Idaho. He is a graduate of Nampa Christian High School and later graduated from college with an Associate's Degree. He received an honorary doctorate from Ohio Christian University in 2008. He served as a member in the Idaho National Guard from 1971 -- 1977, receiving recognition as Idaho's Soldier of the Year in 1975. Crane started his own successful business, Crane Alarm Service, in 1979. Today, Crane Alarm is one of the oldest and largest alarm companies in Idaho. He is a member of the Nampa and Caldwell, Idaho Chambers of Commerce, was a founding member of the Lifeline Crisis Pregnancy Center, and serves on the board of trustees for Nampa Christian Schools. Crane has been married to his wife, Cheryl, since 1969. They have six children, four girls and two boys, and seven grandchildren. The Cranes reside in Nampa, Idaho.

Dar Symms

Dar Symms is the president and a co-owner of Symms Fruit Ranch, one of Idaho’s oldest and longest-operating fruit growers.He joined the family operation in 1994. Prior to that, he graduated from the University of Idaho’s law school in 1991, and worked at a Boise law firm. He is a member of the Idaho Bar Association. At Symms Fruit Ranch, Dar manages and oversees all packing, marketing to Latin America, human resources and finances. He is married and has two children. In his spare time, Dar enjoys, travel, golf, hunting, hiking, skiing and fishing. He joined the Idaho Freedom Foundation board to hold policy makers accountable, and to encourage the government to do less and not more.

Dar Symms

Dar Symms is the president and a co-owner of Symms Fruit Ranch, one of Idaho’s oldest and longest-operating fruit growers.He joined the family operation in 1994. Prior to that, he graduated from the University of Idaho’s law school in 1991, and worked at a Boise law firm. He is a member of the Idaho Bar Association. At Symms Fruit Ranch, Dar manages and oversees all packing, marketing to Latin America, human resources and finances. He is married and has two children. In his spare time, Dar enjoys, travel, golf, hunting, hiking, skiing and fishing. He joined the Idaho Freedom Foundation board to hold policy makers accountable, and to encourage the government to do less and not more.

Doyle Beck

Doyle Beck is a founder or major investor of several successful, Idaho-based business ventures. His business portfolio includes construction, finance, development, and manufacturing companies, with focuses that span civil engineering projects to financial management to innovative technology. Beck is also active in politics and civil society. He’s been a commissioner on the Bonneville County Planning and Zoning Board for 14 years and serves as the board chair. In addition, Beck is an active pilot with over 10,000 hours airtime and experience flying a variety of aircraft. He regularly volunteers his time and aircraft to support search and rescue operations and with the Bonneville Sheriff’s Office. Beck is an active member and leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. A native of eastern Idaho, Doyle and his wife Elizabeth make their home in Idaho Falls, Idaho. They are the proud parents of four children and twenty-one grandchildren.

Doyle Beck

Doyle Beck is a founder or major investor of several successful, Idaho-based business ventures. His business portfolio includes construction, finance, development, and manufacturing companies, with focuses that span civil engineering projects to financial management to innovative technology. Beck is also active in politics and civil society. He’s been a commissioner on the Bonneville County Planning and Zoning Board for 14 years and serves as the board chair. In addition, Beck is an active pilot with over 10,000 hours airtime and experience flying a variety of aircraft. He regularly volunteers his time and aircraft to support search and rescue operations and with the Bonneville Sheriff’s Office. Beck is an active member and leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. A native of eastern Idaho, Doyle and his wife Elizabeth make their home in Idaho Falls, Idaho. They are the proud parents of four children and twenty-one grandchildren.

Bob Tikker

Bob Tikker is a mechanical engineer and the president of Tikker Engineering in Boise. Bob grew up in Idaho and graduated from Meridian High School and the University of Idaho. At the turn of the century, Bob’s grandparents immigrated to the United States to escape an oppressive government. Bob and his family are now living the American dream and strongly support the Idaho Freedom Foundation. Freedom is a fundamental requirement of man’s mind. Capitalism is based upon this fundamental requirement of freedom where men voluntarily consent to trade their goods and services with one another without coercion by government or others. Capitalism reigns as the superior system of government both economically and morally. Bob and his wife Jen are the proud parents of five awesome children and enjoy the outdoor pursuits Idaho offers.

Bob Tikker

Bob Tikker is a mechanical engineer and the president of Tikker Engineering in Boise. Bob grew up in Idaho and graduated from Meridian High School and the University of Idaho. At the turn of the century, Bob’s grandparents immigrated to the United States to escape an oppressive government. Bob and his family are now living the American dream and strongly support the Idaho Freedom Foundation. Freedom is a fundamental requirement of man’s mind. Capitalism is based upon this fundamental requirement of freedom where men voluntarily consent to trade their goods and services with one another without coercion by government or others. Capitalism reigns as the superior system of government both economically and morally. Bob and his wife Jen are the proud parents of five awesome children and enjoy the outdoor pursuits Idaho offers.

Tina Deboer

Tina DeBoer is a local Realtor who wants to play a role in making sure Idaho continues to serve as a beacon of freedom and liberty for decades to come. Tina became passionate about the concept of laissez-faire since taking an American government class in high school. She has been an avid supporter of the Idaho Freedom Foundation and its goals to protect and educate Idaho citizens. Tina and her husband are both small business owners living in Nampa Idaho. Some of her hobbies include camping, riding her ATV and Harley, scuba diving, and singing.

Tina Deboer

Tina DeBoer is a local Realtor who wants to play a role in making sure Idaho continues to serve as a beacon of freedom and liberty for decades to come. Tina became passionate about the concept of laissez-faire since taking an American government class in high school. She has been an avid supporter of the Idaho Freedom Foundation and its goals to protect and educate Idaho citizens. Tina and her husband are both small business owners living in Nampa Idaho. Some of her hobbies include camping, riding her ATV and Harley, scuba diving, and singing.

Heather Lauer

Heather Lauer is the owner of Villageous LLC, a public affairs consultancy. She also leads People United for Privacy, an organization fighting to protect every American’s First Amendment right to support causes they believe in without fear of harassment and intimidation. Heather has worked on political campaigns at the national and state levels. She directed the Whip Operation at the 2004 Republican National Convention, oversaw voter contact programs for New York Governor George Pataki’s successful re-election campaign in 2002, and got her start in politics working on Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign. Heather also played a key role in the launch of the Idaho Freedom Foundation in 2009. Heather is a graduate of the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. Born and raised in Nampa, she currently divides her time between Washington, D.C. and Fairfield, Idaho.

Heather Lauer

Heather Lauer is the owner of Villageous LLC, a public affairs consultancy. She also leads People United for Privacy, an organization fighting to protect every American’s First Amendment right to support causes they believe in without fear of harassment and intimidation. Heather has worked on political campaigns at the national and state levels. She directed the Whip Operation at the 2004 Republican National Convention, oversaw voter contact programs for New York Governor George Pataki’s successful re-election campaign in 2002, and got her start in politics working on Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign. Heather also played a key role in the launch of the Idaho Freedom Foundation in 2009. Heather is a graduate of the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. Born and raised in Nampa, she currently divides her time between Washington, D.C. and Fairfield, Idaho.

RALPH SMEED LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD WINNERS

2010: Ralph Smeed
2011: Maurice Clements
2012: Don Brandt
2013: Stan Hawkins
2014: Elizabeth Hodge
2015: Dan Symms
2016: Lenore Hardy Barrett
2017: Rachel Gilbert

MAURICE CLEMENTS LEGACY OF FREEDOM AWARD WINNERS

2016: Kathleen Sims
2017: Bryan Smith

FUN FACTS

  • IFF was originally going to be named The Gem State Institute.
  • IFF’s logo features the state raptor, the peregrine falcon. The letters “IFF” make up the raptor’s feathers.
  • An elongated bolo tie forms the line between the words “Idaho Freedom” and “Foundation.”

LEGAL STUFF

IFF's Internal Revenue Service's "determination letter" is found here.

Our income tax returns are available for 2018, 2019, and 2020.

The Idaho Freedom Foundation does not endorse candidates for elective office.

HAVE A QUESTION?

Feel free to ask your question by submitting this form

Idaho Freedom Foundation
802 W. Bannock Street, Suite 405, Boise, Idaho 83702
p 208.258.2280 | e [email protected]
COPYRIGHT © 2021 Idaho freedom Foundation
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