Dorothy Moon’s branch of the Republican Party is so entwined with the inaptly named Idaho Freedom Foundation (IFF) that it is hard to know who is calling the shots. Both are extremely far to the right. Both have sought to divide Idahoans by stoking fear and outrage over fake culture war issues. Neither has shown much interest in working on actual problems facing the state, such as water policy, adequate funding for pre-K through higher education, property taxes, infrastructure and important social programs.
The IFF has established a strong grip over many GOP legislators since it came on the scene in 2009. The closing of the GOP primary in 2012 supercharged its efforts to populate the Legislature with extremists and control their votes.
Both Moon and the IFF have ties to the white nationalists who have gained a foothold in the Gem State in recent years. Moon has a history of associating with nationalist individuals and groups. It was recently disclosed that the IFF hired an alt-right propagandist, Dave Reilly, to shape its messaging. Brent Regan, IFF’s board chair, who also controls the Kootenai County Republican Party, has a friendly history with those who have fled progressive states to live in the Nationalist Redoubt in North Idaho, where Christian Nationalists will make their last stand against multicultural hoards.
Because there is so much cross membership between the IFF and Moon’s GOP, it is not easy to determine which group has the ultimate say-so. A recent chapter in the GOP’s effort to squelch individual thinking in its ranks provides an answer.
For those who don’t closely follow their antics, Moon and her minions have implemented a program to force GOP legislators to vote in lockstep with party dictates. Moon publicly claims that the program is to make sure legislators do not stray from the requirements of the Republican Party Platform. But close inspection shows that the required voting pattern is actually set by the IFF.
So, this dark money group sets the Moon agenda?
Several weeks ago, I wrote about the GOP disciplinary proceedings against several eastern Idaho legislators, particularly Stephanie Mickelsen. The 51-page draft “confidential” indictment against Rep. resentative Mickelsen contained numerous claims that she voted contrary to positions dictated by the IFF. Most of those votes were not clear-cut violations of the GOP platform. It took a lot of manipulation to try to make it appear that they were. Several of Mickelsen’s votes, like her vote for the higher education funding bill, were in keeping with the platform. The alleged platform violations were bogus.
When the final indictment was issued against her, there was not a single mention of the IFF, even though every charge leveled against Mickelsen was still explicitly based on a vote she cast against the IFF’s voting instructions. She was censured for violating the platform by her legislative district chairman, Doyle Beck, a Republican extremist who also serves on the IFF board of directors. Some might see this as a conflict of interest. The truth is that Mickelsen was targeted because she failed to be a toady for the IFF. Beck tried to conceal that crucial fact in his censure statement.
Columnist Chuck Malloy characterizes these disciplinary proceedings as “kangaroo courts,” although I tend to think of them as akin to the Soviet Politburo proceedings to purge those accused of failing to toe the Soviet line. Evidence to back up a charge was not particularly necessary. The only good thing is that Commissar Beck cannot send Mickelsen to a gulag (forced labor camp) for failing to comply with IFF’s dictates.
Idaho politics have been brought low by the IFF’s malign influence, which was made possible by our closed GOP primary. Butch and Lori Otter say the Open Primaries Initiative will restore civility, common sense, reason and pragmatism to governing in the Gem State.
The choice is stark–either keep the closed GOP primary and perpetuate the nasty, dysfunctional politics we now have, or adopt an open primary system that will allow the people to elect reasonable, problem-solving candidates to serve them.