Who Pays?

I can understand that the Idaho Republican Party and our Attorney General Raul Labrador like their closed Republican primary election. I just wish they didn’t expect all of us Idaho taxpayers to pay for this “good old boys” clubhouse they have built.

You know us taxpayers paid the construction costs, don’t you?

First, we paid their lawyers.

Back in 2011, the Idaho Republican Party sued the State of Idaho. There was infighting then, as there is now amongst the R Party about whether their primary should be “open” to all who want to vote, or do they have to show “club membership”, i.e., be a registered Republican. 

The Idaho law back then required open primaries.

But then the Idaho Republican Party sued itself, oops, I mean the State of Idaho about whether it could have a closed primary or not. The Idaho Republican Central Committee passed its rule for closed primaries back in 2007, but it didn’t have enough control in the statehouse to get the law changed, so they filed a federal lawsuit. They won in Federal Court.

Whether that was the right or wrong decision is worth a few other columns, but it was the court’s decision.

And the Idaho Legislative Republicans then voted to pay the Idaho Republican Party lawyers’ $300,000 legal fees. Straight out of the Idaho taxpayers’ pockets straight into the Idaho Republican lawyers’ pockets. How does that make you feel? I get a greasy feeling, like after a week of camping without a shower when I think about it.

That was the first payment.

Now we taxpayers pay yearly rent to the Idaho Republican Party for them to keep a private clubhouse on the public dole. We buy with our tax dollars the voting machines they get to use in their club’s closed primary election. All of us taxpayers pay the salaries of the State and county officials who run and monitor the Private Republican Party elections with our tax dollars. We keep a taxpayer funded public list of their club members.

There’s a public list of Idaho Democrats too. I’m amazed Dorothy Moon hasn’t called for expelling all us Idaho Democrats yet.

Private clubs like the Idaho Republican Party aren’t and shouldn’t be illegal. Heck, they often do good for their communities. I’m sure the Rotarians and the Lions clubs are great organizations. I don’t mind paying for my lunch or contributing to their plate when I attend one of their meetings. But my tax dollars shouldn’t be siphoned into their coffers. The Idaho Republican Party has its hand in the Idaho taxpayer’s pocket.

 Maybe this is okay with you out there because you’re an Idaho Republican. You think the amount of good you’re doing for the State of Idaho is worth the cost. But your private clubhouse must be built on principles. I believe it is. You have a noble, high-minded if not wacky platform. I don’t see anywhere in there where you support public funding of private clubs.

Let’s step back and look broadly. It’s only fair.

Every expense the state or county lays out for the Idaho Republican closed primary is also laid out, in a much smaller proportion, for the other political parties. Us half dozen Idaho Democrats get to vote in our publicly funded primary.

But we don’t require club membership. We allow anybody to choose a Democratic Primary ballot, even if you are unaffiliated with any party. We are not a private club, just a small public one.

This is why primary elections in Idaho should include everybody. Because we all pay for it. Even people who don’t vote pay for it.

But the Idaho Republican Party is getting away with keeping their primary private, “closed” in their terms, and still getting public support to run their elections.

If this sleazy behavior makes you feel dirty, there’s an initiative soon to be on the ballot I need to tell you about.

About ddxdx

A Family physician, former county coroner and former Idaho State Senator
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