Former Idaho Republican Party Chairman Tom Luna's attack on the directors of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, Idaho Freedom Action, and Idaho Freedom PAC reveals just how seedy the underbelly of establishment politics in our state is and has been for decades.
Luna released an op-ed Thursday afternoon claiming that because some of the IFF and IFA board members have financially supported Idaho Freedom PAC that they're disloyal to the Republican Party in which they also hold leadership positions. That's because Idaho Freedom PAC endorsed Ammon Bundy, an independent candidate for governor.
Luna has been around long enough to know that's not how this works. When a person gives money to a political action committee, that committee will support any number of candidates, be it one or a dozen, from any number of political parties.
Some PACs only support Republicans, and some only support Democrats. There are also PACs that support candidates irrespective of party affiliation, which is true of Idaho Freedom PAC. It supports freedom-loving candidates who prioritize ending socialist public policies above all other considerations.
So, here's what happened with Idaho Freedom PAC: Bryan Smith, Doyle Beck, and Brent Regan, who hold leadership positions in the state and county Republican Party and are board members of IFF and/or IFA, all gave money to Idaho Freedom PAC. They gave so that the PAC would then support certain Republican candidates. Other donors gave in support of candidates, too — sometimes the same ones backed by Smith, Beck, and Regan and sometimes different ones.
One of those differences is the PAC's support of Ammon Bundy. Neither Smith, Beck, nor Regan were involved in that decision. They are not part of the PAC's leadership team, and although they are part of the leadership at IFF and IFA, those organizations do not in any way direct the PAC's activities. The money they gave to the PAC went to the conservative Republican candidates they wanted to support, as evidenced by campaign finance disclosures, to change the direction of the state Senate away from leftism, a tactic that appears to have worked.
So, how can Luna demand that the three be held accountable for the PAC's actions? The answer is, he can't.
What's really interesting to me is that Luna insists that party loyalty and consistency necessitate unconditional support of the GOP nominees for office, and that extends into the giving they do.
Yet other GOP party officials also give money, directly and indirectly, to other PACs that support Democrats and leftist policies. Chief among these is the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, whose Prosperity Fund has been weaponized against any Republican who supports the party’s own platform and the GOP's stated policy goals. In fact, the more aligned you are with the GOP platform, the more likely you are to weather attacks from IACI, which receives money from such Republican luminaries as Frank Vandersloot's Melaleuca.
Conversely, Republican candidates routinely take in support from radical environmental groups, labor unions, and pro-abortion groups like the Idaho 97% without so much as a peep from the legacy Republican leaders. You've never heard Luna or Brad Little or anyone else complain about the orthodoxy of that, have you?
The truth is, establishment Republicans in Idaho have held onto power for so long, it’s all some in the establishment crave: power. Nothing else interests them. They judge success not in the number of policies that conform to conservative values but in the number of seats held in the Legislature and other offices. They satiate the electorate’s appetite for conservative policies by passing pro-life legislation and lowering taxes a little bit here and there. Then they hope you won’t notice that the government has gotten bigger and more frustratingly complex over time and that the special interest groups are getting more and more favors and handouts at your expense.
Luna’s op-ed wasn’t intended to force Smith, Beck, or Regan to retreat from their support of IFF, IFA, or Idaho Freedom PAC. All three have strong enough personalities that they won’t be bullied into making concessions or having to apologize for something they didn't do.
No, instead, this was a stunt intended specifically to attack IFF and IFA because we are the ones responsible for exposing decades of establishment and special interest control. We've unmasked what's really going on in Boise, and the people behind the curtain are getting uncomfortable in the glare of the spotlight.
This phony attack won’t deter or frighten the principled conservatives that ushered Luna out of his GOP leadership post this summer. There’s a new energy among conservatives, and they are dead set on holding leaders accountable when they fail to live up to their promises. Luna should know that better than anyone.
And IFF and IFA will continue in our mission of making Idaho the best, freest place to live, work, and raise a family. IFF's research apparatus and IFA's accountability tools are being readied for a fresh deployment come January. Soon, Idahoans will have a clear picture of who’s a socialist and who represents Idaho’s conservatives values.