IFF is not just a ‘lobbying group,’ but Betsy Russell is not really just a reporter, either


A government watchdog group says Idaho's public pension retirement system needs $3.5 billion to fully cover obligations.

Spokesman Review reporter Betsy Russell doesn’t come clean with her readers when she repeats portions of Dan Popkey’s story about IdahoReporter.com on Jan. 17.

Russell’s headline refers to the Idaho Freedom Foundation as a “lobbying group.” It’s not. IFF is a nonprofit, and under federal law, lobbying can only comprise up to 20 percent of its expenditures. IFF’s lobbying activities are far below this federal threshold, representing a tiny fraction of IFF’s activities.

Not revealed in Russell’s story is the fact that each legislative session, Russell spends a tiny bit of her time lobbying also, usually on bills that impact government openness and transparency. By that measure, Russell is also a lobbyist, and should probably denote herself as such.

Finally, we’d point out that Popkey quoted Russell in his story about IdahoReporter.com, namely her role as president of Capitol Correspondents Association. And yet in Russell’s reposting of Popkey’s story, she took all of those details out, denying her readers a chance to consider whether they’re being presented with unvarnished truth.

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