Boise Guardian

Conservative Speaker Draws Cheers And Jeers

A story of national import surrounding an August 26 conservative banquet speaker’s penchant for stirring emotions and a local hotel’s desire to stay out of the political fray is unfolding in Boise.

In a nutshell, the Idaho Freedom Foundation has invited Charles Murray to speak at the conservative group’s annual banquet. Apparently based on Murray’s reputation for attracting angry demonstrators at Middlebury College in Vermont as reported in March by the WASHINGTON POST, the Riverside Hotel cancelled the IFF reservation a mere 10 days prior to the event.

The GUARDIAN is getting the story in bits and pieces from several sources, but the issue seems to be about the Hotel having what amounts to veto power over the choice of the Freedom Foundation’s speaker vs the understandable desire on the part of the hotel to keep a secure venue and not be subject to potential disruption for its guests.

Unlike “solar eclipse rate hikes,” the Riverside Hotel cancelled the IFF banquet reservation in the wake of the civil unrest and violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The Riverside came up with a payment of $10,000 to make amends for the late cancellation. It was obviously worth the money to the hotel to not be the venue for conservative Murray’s speech. The IFF calls the deal a “reimbursement” to cover their expenses and troubles to find a new venue. Ironically, the Freedom Foundation has previously held several other events at the Riverside, according to a spokesman.

The IFF event has been rebooked at Château des Fleurs in Eagle, Idaho. The address is 176 S. Rosebud Lane in Eagle.

IFF cried “foul” in an ONLINE MESSAGE to members saying, “The Leftist campaign to stifle the free exchange of ideas has struck a blow right here in Idaho. At the last minute, the venue where IFF was to host its annual celebration of freedom cancelled our reservation. For a while, we had no place to hold our August 26 banquet with renowned guest speaker CHARLES MURRAY.”

Murray is most famous for his 1994 book, “The BELL CURVE: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life,” described by one reviewer as, “…controversial, especially where the authors wrote about racial differences in intelligence and discussed the implications of those differences.”


Wayne Hoffman is the executive director of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, a conservative lobbying group. He was recently featured in the BOISE WEEKLY as one of three power brokers who will most influence the Idaho gubernatorial primary race in March 2018. The Weekly article mentioned that candidates Raul Labrador and Tommy Ahlquist are supporters of the “shindig of the summer.”

The Weekly said, “The Idaho Freedom Foundation will host what is promised to be the “shindig of the summer for liberty lovers”—its annual Faces of Freedom Banquet, Saturday, Aug. 26, at the Riverside Hotel in Boise ($50 for non-members). There’s no official confirmation that Ahlquist, Labrador or (Lt. Gov Brad) Little will be on the guest list, but Ahlquist and Labrador have committed to being sponsors of the event. Hoffman reiterated that his organization doesn’t endorse, but it does have an interest in the outcome.”

Playing to his followers, Hoffman’s sales pitch also noted, “We will defy the thought police at every turn and continue to defend vigorous and healthy debate in the area of ideas. We will not allow fear and intimidation to silence us. To take a stand against this attack on thought, I invite you to join us August 26 at IFF’s Faces of Freedom Banquet at the Château des Fleurs in Eagle.”

Hoffman told the GUARDIAN that “the left” put pressure on the Riverside to cancel the banquet and they are also putting pressure on Château des Fleurs to also deny the group a venue.

UPDATE–In a comment below under the name “ILOVEYOUIDAHO,” Lynda Johnson of Johnson Hospitality, a Riverside owner, claims there was no “pressure from the left.” They just wanted to avoid the potential conflicts.