The Left is Gunning for Idaho: Reclaim Idaho Edition
We are seeking to reveal the forces transforming Idaho. Chief among them are well-funded activist groups. Here is the first part of our dissection of Reclaim Idaho.
Over the last thirty years, states like California and Colorado have gone from red to deep blue. Today, left-wing groups masquerading as “common sense” organizations like The Idaho 97, Take Back Idaho, and Reclaim Idaho are trying to make Idaho the next state to fall.
These groups have the same playbook. They denounce anyone with views that were considered normal twenty years ago as extreme. They advocate for higher spending and increasing the tax burden. The fight to keep abortion legal, to promote the LGBTQ+ agenda, and to oppose efforts to enforce immigration law. Above all, they work to make government the answer to every problem in society while decreasing the independence and virtue of the citizens.
One such group is Reclaim Idaho. In 2018, they passed Medicaid expansion via initiative. They promised it would be a cost-effective way to help Idaho's most vulnerable citizens and warned that people would surely die if we rejected it. However, the cost effective part never quite emerges: spending exceeds original estimates nearly every year.
Reclaim Idaho is back in 2022 with an initiative to increase funding for education to the tune of $300 million per year. This is their third attempt to get this tax hike on the ballot. Their attempts failed in 2020 and 2021. Reclaim appears to be close to the signature threshold this year, however.
Progressive groups such as Reclaim Idaho think the public school system just needs more money to improve its performance. They count on conservative voters to listen to their shallow emotional appeals: Throwing money will solve all the problems of education—otherwise we would have to face the much more uncomfortable truth that our education system has a culture of failure.
Did I say progressive? Reclaim Idaho denies it is progressive. On its website, it claims to “wage campaigns that focus not on political candidates or political parties but on issues that bring Idahoans together.” Peel back the layers of obfuscation and you will find that Reclaim Idaho is very much a progressive organization.
We only know the half of it, actually.
Reclaim Idaho uses ActBlue to process donations. ActBlue was formed in 2004 to manage contributions to left-wing candidates and organizations and was used by the Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden presidential campaigns.
Reclaim Idaho was given nearly $25,000 by the Movement Voter PAC over the last two years. The Movement Voter Project’s website claims that their purpose is to “support grassroots groups organizing their communities to build a stronger progressive movement.”
The Movement Voter Fund has donated more than $1.4 million to several organizations throughout the country, including Floridians for a Fair Democracy, which seeks to restore voting rights to convicted felons, the Ohio Safe and Healthy Communities Campaign, which lobbies to reduce sentences for drug crimes, and Colorado Families First, which pushed a ballot initiative in that state to force businesses to provide extra vacation time for employees.
Reclaim Idaho’s paid staff and volunteers are aligned with the left. Ellen Spencer, team leader for Eagle, ran as an independent in 2020 against Republican Senator C. Scott Grow. While not labeling herself as a Democrat, the leftist Idaho Statesman endorsed her. She cheered the Supreme Court extending Civil Rights Act protection to transgender people, and named Barack Obama as the politician she most admired. (District 14 voters were not fooled – she received only 27% of the vote.)
Ashley Prince runs campaigns for Reclaim Idaho. According to campaign finance reports, she has worded for Reclaim Idaho since March of 2021. She worked for the Idaho Democratic Party in 2020. In March of 2019, the Idaho Young Democrats named her the “Young Dem of the Week.”
Deborah Silver, Reclaim Idaho’s treasurer, ran for the State House of Representatives in District 24 as a Democrat in 2014, 2016, and 2018, losing each time. She still updates her campaign Facebook page with news about the education initiative in between posts praising Pres. Joe Biden for his handling of the economy.
Luke Mayville is the co-founder of Reclaim Idaho. While he presents a nonpartisan veneer, his Twitter feed is full of left-wing agitprop. He opposes restrictions on abortion, opposes enforcement of immigration law, and he opposed efforts to hold teachers and librarians accountable for distributing pornography to children. On Twitter, Mayville amplifies a group called PODER of Idaho, which supports “DACAmented and Undocumented people through actions and events.” This group has joined Reclaim Idaho’s efforts to get the education measure on ballot.
Reclaim Idaho is just another progressive front advocating for progressive changes.
Reclaim Idaho will soon knock on your door, if they have not already, with an emotional appeal to improve public education. The public education system of Idaho needs serious reform, not more taxpayer money.
Voters also deserve to know who is behind this seemingly nonpartisan organization that wants to double down on failure. With so many employees, Reclaim Idaho is sitting on a mountain of cash that many deep-pocketed donors provide. According to campaign finance disclosures, Reclaim has raked in more than half a million dollars since the start of 2020 much of it from very, very small donors. Where is that money coming from? Who is behind this effort to make Idaho into the next Colorado?
Brian Almon is a writer and small business owner. Find his work at gemstate.substack.com and follow him on Twitter at GemStateBrian. He lives with his wife and four children in Eagle.