Freedom Foundation seeks investigation into school district’s use of public resources to promote tax bond

Idaho Freedom Foundation staff Articles

BOISE, ID—Today, the Idaho Freedom Foundation asked Bonneville County Prosecuting Attorney Daniel R. Clark to investigate whether Idaho Falls School District 91 improperly used public resources before an important bond election.

The Boise-based Idaho Freedom Foundation contends District 91 illegally promoted the bonds to voters. The Foundation asserts the district used its vast taxpayer-funded resources, including websites and promotional fliers, to sway voters toward passage.

IFF believes that though the language used on the bond materials is factual, it’s also selective and cleverly tailored to omit key points.

“When a school district only gives the ‘good news’ to voters and ignores the ‘bad news,’ it is purposefully misleading,” said Lindsay Atkinson, IFF’s local government policy researcher.

Atkinson added, “It’s fine to let voters know that their tax levy won’t be raised, but it is not a neutral expression if the district leaves out key facts, including how passage of the measure is a commitment to not lower tax rates for the next twenty years.”

Spending public resources to sway voters is a violation of a recently passed state law that forbids government entities from using taxpayer funds to persuade voters ahead of bond and levy elections. Idaho’s Public Integrity in Elections Act, signed into law earlier this year, clearly states government agencies cannot use public funds to advocate for or against a ballot measure. All information must be ”stated in a factually neutral manner” for the sake of transparency to voters.

“When voters cast their ballots at the polls, they deserve the whole story to make an informed decision,” Atkinson concluded. “Unfortunately, the district failed them in that regard.”

Idaho Falls School District voters head to the polls on August 28 to decide the fates of the $124 million bond measures.