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“Gowen Strong” Is Private Non-Profit Using City Staff In Violation Of “Public Purpose Doctrine,” Ethics Conflict Waived

UPDATE 5/9/17 A GUARDIAN reader sought more information from the Boise City Ethics Commission. To our surprise they had already considered the facts and here is a summary:
QUESTION: May the Airport director form a non-profit and sit on its Board of Directors?
OPINION: The Airport director may form the non-profit and sit on its board of directors so long as City Council waives any apparent conflict of interest.
Read the entire Advisory Opinion 16-01 final.

The GUARDIAN has done additional research which strongly suggests potential improprieties and deliberate deceptive moves by Boise officials and those who favor landing the F-35 fighter jet at Gowen Field.

While claiming a desire to “educate” people about the Air National Guard, those involved in the effort to attract the F-35 to Boise seem to be advocating on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce, a private special interest lobbying group representing business interests. They base their efforts around “Gowen Strong,” a PRIVATE corporation.

See entire form HERE.

“Gowen Strong” is a private non-profit corporation registered with the Idaho Secretary of State. The three board members listed on the articles of incorporation are Rebecca Hupp, Bill Connors, and Bill Shawver. Hupp is Boise’s airport director, Connors runs the Chamber of Commerce and Shawver is a public relations director at Idaho Power. All three used their personal home addresses on the corporation filing document.

While the corporation is private, the official mailing address is PO Box 15422 Boise, Id 83705– A U.S. Postal Service box held by the City of Boise airport.

Since Boise City is already a non-profit, it strikes us as peculiar for the airport director to use her residential address while joining a private corporate board which uses an official city PO Box address for mail.

The GUARDIAN is very concerned about using public money, resources, staff, and equipment for this private lobbying effort. Based on references uncovered in public records, it appears the Boise City attorney was also involved in the formation of the non-profit and easily could have done work on the filing.

In the articles of incorporation, in the event the corporation is dissolved, assets are designated to go to the Idaho National Guard MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation). “Assets?” Some of our consultants tell us it is much easier to solicit and spend money when you are a private corporation than if you have to go through the bothersome red tape, approvals, and appropriations found in spending public funds.

For example: A display ad published in the Idaho STATESMAN Sunday May 7, would be hard to justify using Boise City tax money, but if the money was laundered through another entity, it would be easier to conceal the expenditure. Conversely, if the money were solicited from a private source, it would be easier to deposit it in the private account.

When we checked on the domain owner of the “GowenStrong.com” website, it came back to Sean Briggs. He lists his address as 3201 Airport Way #1000 which is of course the administrative office at the airport. Briggs is the public relations staffer for the Airport.

Attorney General OPINION 95-07 seems to have a legal application in this case. If the effort is indeed private, public assets should not be used. If it is a public venture, no need to hide behind the non-profit corporation.

Comments & Discussion

26 comments for ““Gowen Strong” Is Private Non-Profit Using City Staff In Violation Of “Public Purpose Doctrine,” Ethics Conflict Waived”

  1. western Guy
    May 8, 2017, 9:12 pm

    Doesn’t this B.S. from City Hall rankle anyone to the core?

  2. Private Corporations do not have to disclose who gives money. It is a way to hide who gives how much and who pays to play – like Idaho Power.

    The voters of Boise seem to have no problem with this kind of government.

    The local legislators and city council are all in the mayors party and pocket and the Republicans around Boise could careless. Even the Governor looks the other way and then gives $100,000 to assist.

    Thus the mayor does whatever he pleases and gets away with it – just like having a developer as a Department Director.

  3. Follow the Money
    May 8, 2017, 9:45 pm

    So how much have they spent and who has been involved since the filing date of January 3???

  4. Someone told me Rebecca Hupp was married to a Guard member. Does anyone know if that is the case? After reading many of the Guardian Records Act documents, any line between the City and Guard seems hopelessly blurred. Some of them almost make a person physically ill at the level of sick scheming.

    And while I know the airport is likely an immense user of electricity, why is Idaho Power in this so deep? Is there some huge new energy-sucking project lurking in the background?

    EDITOR NOTE–Hupp’s spouse works at the IANG. The Idaho Power link is Bill Shawver is a former general in the IANG. The Gov. is commander in chief of the Idaho Guard, the gov’s. former chief of staff is a VP at Idaho Power where Shawver is now a PR guy.

  5. Heinrich Wiebe
    May 8, 2017, 10:52 pm

    Enjoyed reading this: http://www.law.columbia.edu/sites/default/files/microsites/career-services/Attorneys%20General%20and%20the%20Public%20Purpose%20Doctrine.pdf

    Found: “Public choice theory suggests that the structure of the legislative process is such that government will always be tempted to confer highly visible benefits on small organized groups while dispersing hidden costs among the general public. The public purpose requirement was created to prevent the most egregious instances of this: where the benefits provided do not flow to the public at all.”

    Geez, nailed it! 500,000 people subjected to 40,000lbs of thrust-war-planes when they could be flown at an airbase 35miles Southeast of town?

    Folks, we’re in a race to the bottom and that’s where you slam up against the public purpose doctrine. It’s a case of we’ll do anything for the money and jobs. The public purpose doctrine is essentially dead. Economic development is in the public’s best interest no matter the cost. Pillage and plunder globally and locally.

  6. Thanks for that explanation of personal connections and agendas potentially driving Idaho Power and others manic actions to snag the F-35s.

    One thing I noticed when looking at the record request was that it was very soon after the DC lobbying junket that included the City, state, Shawver and I believe the Chamber – when the Statesman published an article gushing over Mike Simpson’s new Bill to break the Gateway West logjam. Then a little bit after that, Better Idaho tweeted that Simpson received some kind of award or recognition for his work on the F-35 at the end of one of those Pay 40 dollars for Lunch to Hear a Congressman Speak sessions. Better Idaho pointed out that the award time would have been better spent if Simpson would have actually engaged with constituents. I’ve been wondering for quite a while why this big need for Gateway lines, and if there is some connection to the F-35s. There may or may not be.

  7. It's in the cards
    May 9, 2017, 12:45 am

    Bush 43 said “power is addictive”. He would know considering he had a nose full of blow until a few years before his term — and then the real addiction began.

    As for our local situation with those addicted to power — there will be overconfident missteps. I think it time to look closely at what the city credit cards have been used for.

  8. The Mayor will charm anyone into believing that Boise and the Treasure Valley as a whole needs the F-35. He probably has a group of dedicated people coming up with ideas (on a golf course no less) that promote the livability, the economy, etc. of Boise and Idaho through various manipulations that result in visibility, believability, credibility and even deniability that the voters don’t want the F-35 and that the same won’t be bad for Boise. This entity of Mayors office is known as the dept. of Spins, Deceit, Distortions and outright Lies, but we, the people, are Wrong!

    This is just another deception of the Mayors office.

    Boisean’s like to talk (or be told about) Democracy but, when put to the test, usually find it to be an ‘inconvenience’. We have opted instead for an authoritarian system run by the developers and other special interests and clearly disguised as Democracy. We pay through the nose for an enormous joke-of-a-government, because we can’t tax certain entities, let them push us around then wonder why the non-deserving fools got in there.

  9. I bet the TV stations are glad you did this (not that they would have been real journalists anyway). Congratulations. And now they are free to go stand in flood water and tell me what to wear.

  10. Heinrich Wiebe
    May 9, 2017, 9:39 am

    Since this is beyond the regular efforts of City Staff, (creating Corporations and such) why not make this part of the regular practice? Set up one for each existing enterprise that surrounds the airport. Build marketing slants that target those who’d oppose. Build lobbyist groups and launch legislative changes that remove barrier that are in place to protect the Plebs. Oh, wait… that’s already in place and happening. Damn-it! All the good ideas are already taken!

  11. The whole mess is clearly wrong.
    What can citizens do about it right now?
    Any ideas?

  12. Let me guess, Hupp has a personal email server in her basement that she uses to conduct official airport business too.

    To educate the community about IANG?
    Because somehow the Air Guard’s OWN PR person isn’t doing that well enough?
    I think that is kind of insulting to the people running the show at the Guard. Otherwise, it’s an OBVIOUS run-around the rules.

    Mayor Bieter, it Stinks!

  13. Roger Perkins
    May 9, 2017, 4:58 pm

    The best way to keep Gowen Field and Boise strong is to station the F-35s there. I live in the Indian Lakes Subdivision and love to hear all the jets fly their pattern overhead. The F-35 will be no different.

    EDITOR NOTE–Admit it Roger, after 25 years in choppers your hearing is so damaged all those jets sound like a Toyota Prius. Thank-you for your service and the page one picture in the NY Times! 🙂

  14. Regarding Boise City Ethics Commission Advisory Opinion:

    There is no legal language in this, just an Advisory Opinion by the Boise City Ethics Commission. How is it not possible to have a conflict of interest in a situation like this? It isn’t like she is volunteering for the Red Cross where their “opinion” might apply. This is bending the rules at best and possibly a means of bypassing the law.

  15. Common Sense
    May 10, 2017, 2:07 am

    The Idaho Statesman, March 31st, 2017, see story on F-35’s and the $100,000 they gave themselves. Then, later, pictures were in the Statesman of Gov. Otter and Boise’s Mayor, in Washington, D.C. Convincing people Boise is the place to be.

    I thought at the time how bizarre that sounded that the government could pay itself to fly to DC and wine and dine “the brass” all on our tax dollars for something most of us do not want.

    Any questions ? Google research such items as F-35 Lawsuits, or Vermont, or lawsuits F-35, Noise, etc.

    Make sure you do not miss Vermont. Their tally sheet was erroneously marked as “no impact on housing density.” Something like that. People will lie, cheat and steal to get their way.

    I love the military. Spent 8 years on airbases with SR-71’s and B-52’s during Vietnam, even the new FB-111B didn’t sound anything like this F-35. When even an F-15 flies out of Gowen, it hurts my ears.

    The F-35 is being taken in part by Senator McCain in AZ. The rest of the F-35’s would be best served at Edwards Air Force Base in the Maojave Desert, or Area 51, Lockheed Martin’s Facilty in Nevada. The F- 35 should not, at any cost, be stationed at Gowen.

    Does anyone remember when we had a fatal military jet crash near Black Cat Road some years ago. Luckily the terrain was an empty field. There are very few empty spots left in The treasure Valley. I have seen military planes crash at military bases. It happens. Was it last summer or the summer before we had a helicopter crash near Pleasant Valley Road?

    At least this is the greatest country in the world and we are allowed to express our point of view! Thank you Guardian. Long live America!

  16. It should be called
    Boise City Ethics Omission

  17. No Good Reporters
    May 10, 2017, 8:55 am

    Thanks to the Guardian for the forum.

    It seems there are no reporters good enough to report on these issues.

    The companies they work for must be too closely involved with City Hall and unable and unwilling to cover this real news. They seem to prefer just repeating fake news.

  18. Time for a public records request of the emails and browser history of airport officials to see if their work computer was used for private business.

    EDITOR NOTE–We have already done as you ask and the answer is YES. The issue now is at least one city official claims they never implemented the GOWEN STRONG plan.

  19. The problem with the waiver is that there IS a conflict of interest and the action of the waiver does not remove the conflict.

    In fact the waiver shows that the Mayor and Council condone the conflict and allow it to occur.

    It is a mom telling a child it is ok to shoplift – it is still illegal.

  20. As a Chicago resident I am shocked by how sleazy the politics of Boise and Idaho are. I read about this exceptional publication, the Boise Guardian, in Counterpunch. It’s always good to know that sleaze bags gravitate to government, and that Boise, and Idaho can give Chicago, and Illinois, where we probably have more convicted criminals who used to be politicians than any other state in the nation, a run for our money.

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/05/11/the-city-and-the-war-machine-crosshairs-on-people-and-public-lands/

  21. Is there a section of the code that allows for or lays out the process for a waiver? Or, are they making up laws now? The code. Not the conference room of omission.

    EDITOR NOTE–Reread the hyperlink decision in the top paragraph. The actual city codes are printed as part of the decision.

  22. I agree with the comment from “Problem”.

    Every city council member that voted for the waiver is contributing to the illegal action.

    You cannot waive ethics – unless you do not have any yourself!

  23. Heinrich Wiebe
    May 13, 2017, 12:01 pm

    READ –>ARTICLE 2: “To educate the community about the role and importance of the Idaho Air National Guard.”

    Since when is this the responsibility of the Boise City Airport director as her second job?

    Since when did the IDANG become unable to do this on their own?

    As written on Gowenstrong.com
    “GOALS: Gowen Strong is a partnership between the City of Boise, Idaho Commerce, Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce and Boise Valley Economic Partnership to support the preservation of military resources in Boise and favorably position the Idaho National Guard and Gowen Field for future changes and potential expansion. ”

    This goal isn’t the same as Article 2 above. Educate is NOT the same thing as preservation.

    Since this is a corporation, and there’s a stated partnership with the City of Boise, there’s got to be an agreement somewhere. What does it say?

    SOMEONE, ANYONE>>>> please do a FOIA on this! IT’S EASY. http://cityclerk.cityofboise.org/public-records/records-request-form/

  24. Is the Ada County Prosecuting Attorney looking the other way as well?

    Maybe they have an ethics waiver system there too.

  25. This bs does rankle me to the core. Someone will have to write to the Add County Prosecuting attorney for her/him to even ask questions. This is before a lawsuit.

    As educate is not preservation, govern is not eradication and destruction.

  26. Last night two F-15’s took off from Gowen, flying NW direction. Noisy as hell on take off.

    I think we are being conditioned to the noise: start slow… then BAM. Real noise.

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