Campaign finance laws complicate West Ada recall

Posted at 5:48 PM, Apr 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-29 19:48:43-04

Long time West Ada Board District trustee Mike Vuittonet explained that an upcoming recall may not change the chaos associated with the shakeup throughout the year.

Vuittonet claims the four trustees up for recall are taking a calculated approach to picking their successors including newly elected board member Phil Neuhoff.

“Was he someone from that camp? Yep. Absolutely he was. And I don't think anyone will deny that, but I don't want to take away from the fact that he needs an opportunity to do what he feels is best for our kids," Vuittonet said.

When asked about the chess game surrounding the West Ada School District, Neuhoff simply explained that it’s all for the kids.

“My only ax to grind in the whole thing was my kids and make sure their education is as good as it can be," Neuhoff explained in the 6 On Your Side studio. “I still for the life of me don't understand what was worth everything that went on with the political wrangling."

The board filled former trustee Russell Joki’s seat with Rene Ozuna.  Ozuna admits she met with Joki and Madsen before applying for the position and she didn’t hide her opinion on what’s transpired.

“I don't think the recall should be in place. I think it's a shame. I think we lost two really great trustees through the process," Ozuna explained.

Tina Dean and Carol Sayles still face a recall election in May and Vuittonet is actively campaigning against them claiming the union helped them win their seats.

“I believe they have more of a union lean. A union leaning kind of sense. They were pro-union and heavy union," Vuittonet said.

Dean denies that claim and Idaho Education News asked the Idaho Education Association if that allegation was true or not.

Idaho Education News editor Kevin Richert said that the IEA denied that they ever contributed.

“I went to the IEA and presented them with what Vuittonet said and they said we didn't give money to these campaigns. We weren't active in these campaigns," Richert explained.

However, due to campaign finance laws, it’s almost impossible to pinpoint if that is true or not.

In 2013, trustees did not have to disclose campaign finances. But those in charge of the West Ada recall can also keep their donors private. Recall elections are not subject to Idaho's Sunshine laws.

“It's amazing how stories get out. We supposedly received $50,000 in dark money. Another claim that Dr. Clark was funding it. So all just baseless things. (Michelle) So none of that is true? None of it was true," Vuittonet said.

When 6 On Your Side asked the recall organizers how much money has been collected, they refused to answer and have not disclosed who is backing the West Ada recall.