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A glimpse inside the Idaho Freedom Foundation

February 28, 2023

By Mary Souza

Last year we were up in the majestic mountains of Idaho, in a tiny town way off the beaten path. We were attending a Republican event with several speakers. This was not a fancy dinner in plush surroundings, it was a sandwich in an old wooden grange hall. Much to my surprise, Wayne Hoffman, President of Idaho Freedom Foundation (IFF) got up to speak with great pride and said IFF analyzes every bill so you don’t have to. Not true!

I almost jumped up from my chair. IFF does not analyze every bill, and in the next edition of this column, I will explain which bills they analyze, and which they do not, and why. Does the bill sponsor make a difference? We’ll discuss it next time.

But this column is to give you some insight into the key people at IFF. When you read their comments and know their backgrounds and beliefs, you may understand my concerns.

Now let’s get back to Wayne. A self-described Libertarian, he started IFF using the legacy of his former mentor. Wayne was a newspaper journalist, making a very basic income. Today, Wayne makes as much if not more than the Governor. He lives only part time in Idaho, and probably can’t vote here, but he still wants to control our legislature. Oh yes, there’s more: Wayne recently sent out a fundraising letter after my last column.

In it he calls me angry names but does not refute my information. He concludes the letter by begging for large monthly donations. Poor Wayne. Why would folks support the increasingly punitive influence Wayne and his staff are imposing on the legislators you elected to represent you?

IFF’s former VP and now Legislative Affairs Director is Fred Birnbaum. He lives in Utah. He can’t vote in Idaho either.

Recent IFF VP Dustin Hurst is quite a personality on social media. He openly talks about being a Libertarian. He claims the IFF’s score index is great because the people Dustin has deemed not conservative enough, hate it. He says “They abhor it because it strips them of their power to control the narrative.”

Who should control the narrative, Dustin? The non-elected IFF, or the legislators elected by the voters?

Dustin recently needed self-soothing on social media when he cried “No one understands how hard I worked to unseat the Senate GOP clowns. I promise to work twice as hard next time.”
Then he went on to threaten six Senators, by name, claiming they “better enjoy the next two years, they won’t get two more.”

Is this something the Idaho Lobby corps allows their members to do? Dustin was already fined $250 by the SOS for lobbying without registering as such, and now public threats to sitting Senators?

Dustin is changing jobs but isn’t going away. He will be working for the IFF PAC and also for People United for Privacy, assisting them with fundraising. I hope this is not to hide their big donors ... we need transparency in Idaho!

Parrish Miller is the analyst scoring almost every bill on the IFF index so far this year.

Here’s a quote from his web site, ParrishMiller.com: “I don't fly the U.S. flag and I certainly don't ‘pledge allegiance’ to it. I don't sing ‘patriotic’ songs honoring the world's most oppressive and violent regime. I don't pretend that the U.S. is the ‘greatest’ country in the world or that it is unusually or atypically free.”

Parrish Miller opposed Trump, wants open borders, free immigration, and he admits this: “I am an anarchist. My goal is not the reformation of the state, but its complete and total eradication.” (Please read that last part again.)

These are the people scoring the bills and grading the Republican legislators you elected. They bring their built-in bias to that task, and use the grades to control your representatives.

Did you notice not one of them is Republican? IFF is not what you think it is.

Very briefly, I will tell you a bit about some new people joining IFF this year:

—Brian Almon will be the new Communications Director. Here’s a good example of his political views: Someone posted a tweet that said “If women were not allowed to vote we would have a supermajority of Republicans. Strangely, most Republican women get angry if you point this out”. Brian agreed with this tweet, then added his own comment: “If you find a woman who says ‘Repeal the 19th’ then put a ring on her.” (The 19th amendment is women’s right to vote)

—Brandon Durst will be a Senior Analyst. He’s a former Democrat Senator in Idaho who had to resign because he lived in Washington State. He then ran for the Washington House as a Democrat, but lost. He had domestic and child protection issues, then returned to Idaho and ran unsuccessfully for statewide office last year as a Republican. He will be analyzing bills?

I didn’t forget my promise to tell you a story. One evening several years ago, as I was walking back to the Capitol after a reception, someone called my name. I turned and saw Fred Birnbaum from IFF. He caught up and was downright giddy, which was unusual for Fred. He blamed it on indulging in a few beverages, but wanted to tell me about the out-of-state conference he and Wayne had recently attended.

There they learned methods to gain complete control of the legislature. He was so excited! I asked why IFF should have that power? To which he replied that total control has always been their goal. Money and Power.

Again, IFF is not what you think it is. Please stay tuned for Part 3, coming soon.

Mary Souza, a Coeur d'Alene Republican, represented District 4 in the Idaho Senate for eight years from 2014 to 2022. Feedback: MarySouzaUnfiltered@gmail.com.

Questions or Comments? Send us an email!

Mike Weland, Publisher

6931 Main St.
P.O. Box 1625
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
(208) 295-1016

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