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.
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