Writings and observations

VanderSloot’s underwriting

Is there these days an unelected Idahoan – one person – who has more impact in Idaho than Frank VanderSloot? And one – much more than most big influencers of the past – who seems to go to great lengths to keep that influence on the downlow?

VanderSloot, of Idaho Falls, is CEO of Melaleuca, Inc., a provider of nutritional, cosmetic and related products, based at Idaho Falls. Since 1985 he has built the firm into a large operation, and he has been willing to spend money to advance his views, which are quite conservative. People in Idaho Falls have seen that in direct ways for some years, and politically-oriented people around the state have understood his impact for quite some time. Probably only a sliver percentage of Idahoans overall do.

So consider the reports out today about funding in the state Supreme Court race between incumbent Roger Burdick and challenger John Bradbury – or more precisely, two groups outside of those campaigns which have injected money and message into it, the Idaho Citizens for Justice and the Citizens for Common Sense Solutions. Both have gone after Bradbury. The former group sent out substantial full-color direct mail pieces and newspaper ads.

Like other political action groups they were supposed to file campaign finance reports well before now, so that Idaho voters would know who was behind the ads they see and hear. Instead, the last of the reports – overdue – got in this afternoon and, as reporter Betsy Russell notes in her review of the filings, there was really just one “citizen” behind both groups: VanderSloot, who underwrote both.

Politics does have its unseen forces. Here is one of them. Ask now, why isn’t this one more visible?

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