In Idaho, The “No” Forces Ramp Up

New organization to lead fight against Proposition 2

Opponents of Proposition 2, Idaho’s eminent-domain and takings initiative, have launched a grass-roots drive to defeat what they brand a “deceptive, bait-and-switch measure,” a spokesman for the newly formed Neighbors Protecting Idaho says.

The organization, which filed the necessary papers with the state on September 21, is “pulling together constituencies that don’t normally work together on most issues,” including farmers, ranchers, and environmentalists, according to Justin Hayes, its media director. Its message, he says, is that Idaho “is a very attractive place for people to live and businesses to come to. If Proposition 2 were passed, that would be thrown out the window.”

Proposition 2 — like initiatives in Arizona, California, and Washington — would require governments to compensate property owners for regulations that diminish the value of their land. As of September 21, records show, contributions in support of the measure totaled $337,050. All but $50 of this came from organizations led by or connected to Howard Rich, a wealthy New York real estate investor and libertarian activist.

Hayes, noting that Idahoans are “fiercely independent,” suggests that Rich’s money will be the initiative’s downfall. “We don’t like being told what to do by out-of-state millionaires,” he says, “and I don’t think that will play well here.”

Rich has not responded to the Center for Public Integrity’s requests for an interview.

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