Updated 12/28/2009. Originally Posted 12/18/2009
Though Keith Allred has been in the race for Governor’s office less than twenty-four hours, there is already plenty of drama surrounding his candidacy. The Republican Party of Idaho thinks Allred violated campaign laws when he informally proclaimed his candidacy, but The Common Interest, which the candidate founded in 2004, believes Allred played by the rules.
In a statement released on its website on Dec. 16, the Idaho GOP contended that by announcing his intention to run for Governor as Democrat in a message to Common Interest members on December 10th, Allred violated campaign finance laws which prohibit certain groups from taking part in partisan political activities. The GOP release went on to explain that The Common Interest is a 501(c)(3), which means the group is designated as non-profit, non-partisan, and not allowed to take sides in an election. The status prohibits 501(c)(3) groups from endorsing candidates, participating in campaign-related activities, or making donations to any certain candidate.
Jonathan Parker, the Executive Director for the Idaho Republican Party, said this about Allred’s message: “I’m disappointed that Keith Allred would try to exploit the non-profit tax-exempt status of The Common Interest to further his own personal and partisan agenda.”
The Common Interest believes Allred’s activities were within the bounds of the law and that the soon-to-be-official-candidate for Governor even went above and beyond requirements.
In a statement released by the group in response to the GOP’s charges, Director Marguerite McLaughlin said that, “Although not required to by law, Keith Allred has resigned as President of The Common Interest, Incorporated, and we are suspending the organization’s activities until after the election.”
The website for The Common Interest notes it is currently registered with the state of Idaho as a 501(c)(4), which allows it to participate in lawful political campaigning, which is not allowed under 501(c)(3) status. The campaign activities, however, may not be the primary focus of the organization, but are allowed as a part of the overall mission of the group.
IdahoReporter.com has learned The IRS has confirmed The Common Interest is registered as a 501(c)(3). The letter, dated February 5, 2005, established the organization as a 501(c)(3) as of October 5, 2005.
The director also explained that in the Dec. 10 message to members, Allred specified that the group does not endorse specific candidates, but candidates could embrace The Common Interest, which Allred has vowed to do. His campaign site, AllredforIdaho.com, features a link to The Common Interest’s webpage.
The candidate’s website also features videos of the candidate speaking about his work with The Common Interest. On the site, the videos are listed under an “Allred TV” section, but the videos are being hosted by YouTube.com through The Common Interest’s account on that site. Neither the Allred’s campaign nor The Common Interest have commented on the videos.
Of the videos, Parker said, “It’s just another example of his campaign…taking advantage of and exploiting The Common Interest.”
Allred made his candidacy official today with an announcement at Twin Falls High School. He also participated in "Allred Rallies" at the Basque Center in Boise last night and the Iron Horse in downtown Coeur D'Alene earlier today.