New Idaho PAC targets Otter, Wasden

BOISE — A new group with ties to Republican Party central committees in two Idaho counties raised more than $100,000 in the past week for campaign attacks on Idaho’s Republican governor and attorney general.

The group — Integrity in Government PAC — sent mailings sharply critical of Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden to registered Republicans statewide. The PAC also has a website criticizing Otter and calling for his defeat in Idaho’s primary Tuesday.

Lee Ann Callear, the PAC’s chairwoman, is an Idaho Republican Party executive committee member and Region 2 chairwoman. She formed the PAC with three other central Idaho residents and Doyle Beck of Idaho Falls, who is the Bonneville County Republican Party chairman.

“We’ve never done this before,” said Callear, of Ahsahka. “I’m trying to expose some of the things that I think are corrupt in Idaho government, just like Butch Otter saying that our economy is in such good shape, and I don’t believe that.”

Since it formed in March, the PAC had raised just under $20,000, mostly from out-of-state individuals and couples. That total also included $2,000 from the Idaho County Republican Central Committee and $1,700 from the Clearwater County Republican Central Committee.

Then, in the past week, the Integrity in Government PAC suddenly raised $107,000 in nine big donations — six of those from residents of the Idaho Falls area, including two-time GOP congressional candidate and longtime John Birch Society organizer Chick Heileson. The other three are from Utah and Wyoming.

Callear said she hopes to “counter some of the big money that is coming from the lobbyists.”

Gary Moncrief, a Boise State University political scientist and an expert on campaign finance, said the PAC’s activity is “unusual, there’s no doubt about that. … The central committee donating money – to my knowledge that’s unprecedented. I don’t remember that happening in Idaho before.”