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Op-Ed: Time to End the Practice of Taxpayer-funded Lobbyists in Ada County

By • November 26, 2023

As a private citizen, I was always offended when I heard about tax dollars going to lobbyists.

You may not be familiar with this practice, but any public institution can use your taxes to hire private lobbyists to lobby any other institution, usually for more taxes to be collected and spent. Cities can lobby the State, the State can lobby the feds, and the feds can lobby the cities. It becomes one endless cycle of forcing citizens to pay to subsidize their own tax increases.

Imagine my surprise then to find out that Ada County had its own contract lobbyist on the payroll. It was a relatively new phenomena, started in 2018 when the Board was under Democrat control. Ada County had been paying a whopping $80,000 per year for this service. On Tuesday, November 28th, this contract will be up for renewal in front of the Board of Commissioners. I believe it’s time to put an end to this extravagance.

Out of all 44 counties in Idaho, Ada is truly the last one who should be using tax dollars for private lobbyists.

Our courthouse office is mere blocks from the Capitol, a short ten-minute walk. All three Commissioners (two of whom are former legislators themselves) already have extensive contacts in the Capitol based on our years in politics. We can easily represent ourselves.

The median income in Idaho for an individual is about $32,000. Lobbyists are earning $80,000 per year – per client – and most professionals have many clients. The legislative session is only 3 months, and work for a client may amount to only a few hours a year, depending on the issue. While large corporations can handle this, Governments should not be justifying this kind of expense.

Ada County is already represented by the Idaho Association of Counties, who sends representatives to the Capital each year to talk about county issues. Five legislative priorities are chosen per year to focus on. Ada County’s proposal – reforming the law relating to hospital property tax exemptions – was selected as one of the Association’s five priorities, meaning, we will already have a lobbying presence there. This is still taxpayer-funded lobbying, and I am concerned with it, but at least the Association represents all counties equally and only on issues of broad support. As an individual Commissioner I don’t have any control over them since they are supported by all 44 counties, but I do have control over what matters are placed in front of me to vote on. From a pragmatic perspective, Ada County’s private lobbyist is unnecessary.

It’s time to put an end to this program. If we don’t do it now, it will never go away.

“The closest thing to eternal life on Earth is a government program.” -Ronald Reagan.

If you feel the way I do, you can contact the Commissioners at before Tuesday to weigh in with your opinion.

Ryan Davidson, Ada County Commissioner


This Op-Ed was submitted by Ada County Commissioner Ryan Davidson. Op-Eds do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of those at the Idaho Dispatch.

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Tags: Ada County, Ada County Board of Commissioners, City, County, Federal Government, Idaho Association of Counties, Idaho Counties, Idaho Taxpayers, Lobbying, Private Lobbyist, State, taxes

13 thoughts on “Op-Ed: Time to End the Practice of Taxpayer-funded Lobbyists in Ada County

    1. Please explain your comment of “Nazi-sympathizer”. From what actions of Ryan Davidson’s does he qualify in your mind as a Nazi-sympathizer?

    2. You must be the radio troll…..”Mark from Boise” that calls up Kevin Miller and harasses the audience ad nauseum. Do us a favor and retreat to another state like that other blowhard…Liberal Steve.

    3. Just show us your liberal card Mark.

      Fuck paying any lobbyist with government funds. The people wanting whatever they are lobbying for, can pay the price.

      Hey about about adding a like button for peoples comments?

  1. Wow, I wonder how many more Citizens are not aware of this horrible idea of Paid Lobbyists by we the people their PRIVATE BANK. In the first place Lobbyists should not be allowed in our Congress or Senate or anywhere near our Government. Certainly looking at our mess in DC verifies the Lobbyists are for the wellfare of their pocket, not what is best for our Country!

    1. Anyone who petitions government for a law or policy or change to either is a lobbyist, so barring all of them is depriving the general populace of a First Amendment right. That being said, people should use their own resources to lobby/petition government – not other peoples’ money in the form of taxes.

      We should also change the laws to prevent former Senators and Congresspeople from becoming lobbyists for at least ten years after they leave office.

  2. This government money always comes with strings attached. This influences every form of government you could imagine and probably more from road planning county planning schools hospitals cities the list goes on! Many people don’t realize that Idaho received millions of dollars to lock down or stay under Brad Little for Covid, these are the fax you can look him up a mother was arrested for going to the park with your son. People were arrested for going to church in Moscow Idaho. The infringement on our liberty and freedoms comes at the price of these government fed dollars it’s called ARPA and also it’s disguised under other names. The surveillance state is being funded by many of these funds cameras, 5G projects, other projects, that affect education and even pay for LGB pride in the park paid for by your tax dollars even in Idaho. Check out your candidates freedom score. Do some research get involved we’re losing our country and we are losing the state.

  3. Ryan is correct, Ada county should not have any private lobyists in addition to IAC (Idaho Association of Counties). I did some research with Canyon County couple years back they were paying somewhere between $50000 To $60000 to IAC. IAC is very organized and wealthy county government lobbyist. They are well train in multiple areas of county government, Sheriff’s office PA, Accessors office, Commissioner’s office. I would guess with the size of Ada county they’re paying $50 M to $100M a year to IAC which is an Annual Co. Government Cost paid by the Property Tax Payers. IAC in 1997 set up a $ 1 million Litigation Fund for counties in Idaho to be Reimburse Legal Fees for Sueing Individual taxpayers in District Court whether the County prevails or Not. This is fundamentally wrong for County Government to Sue Individual Taxpayers with with taxpayer dollars.

  4. The following is the template letter that I and at least one other person received from Ada County BOCC:
    On Monday, November 27th, 2023 at 4:18 PM, BOCC wrote:

    Thank you for contacting the Board of Ada County Commissioners. The contract for lobbying services is not on the agenda for Tuesday, November 28, 2023. No decisions have been made by the Board at this time. All contracts, including this contract for lobbying services, follow a prescribed approval process to ensure compliance with Idaho law.

    As you are likely aware, Ada County has retained the services of a lobbying firm to assist us for a number of years now. Being a county commissioner in Idaho’s most populous county is a full-time job. Our days, and often evenings, are filled with meetings necessary for the proper operation of county government. Commissioners’ meeting schedules simply won’t allow us to be at all necessary legislative meetings and committee hearings on bills that impact Ada County.

    Financial, public policy and other issues of great importance to Ada County will be discussed at the Legislature this session:

    * Criminal public defense reform, including the county obligation to provide child protection attorneys
    * Tax exemptions for non-profit hospitals
    * Emergency Medical Services authority and funding
    * Funding of court services for high profile trials
    * Governance and funding formulas for health districts mandated by the state
    * State water policy which impacts local land use planning decisions
    * Reimbursement to counties for state inmates in county jails

    These are issues that will impact Ada County residents greatly. It is important for the county to have its interests represented well this session to ensure good public policy making.

    Like all county expenses, the funds to pay for lobbyist services had to be budgeted. This spring and summer the Board of Ada County Commissioners went through the regular and extensive budgeting process and the funding for these services was approved unanimously. The county budget was approved line by line during presentations, approved again in its entirety as a Tentative Budget, and the final budget unanimously approved by the Board of County Commissioners in August of 2023.


    Board of Ada County Commissioners

    200 W. Front St., Boise, ID 83702
    (208) 287-7000 office
    (208) 287-7009 fax

  5. Thanks for posting this letter in reply to Commissioner Davidson’s article and his personal opinion. The content of and meaning behind this letter from the other 2 County Commissioners are 100% correct. Your elected officials and their staff do NOT have time to run interference for the taxpayers, and the taxpayers are oftentimes the “victims” of unintended consequences of badly written legislation at the state level. State Legislative Services does NOT have the necessary expertise to ensure that the intent of every bill is clearly stated in the Bill’s wording. Lobbyists usually do if they’re any good. It took the ACHD Commission and the lobbyist for the Ada County Highway district 2 years to ensure that funding for Ada County’s portion of the Highway 16 connections came from State coffers instead of Ada County taxpayers. The ACHD lobbyist and Commission saved property owners over $36,000,000 with that one bill. Were it not for lobbyist efforts (commissioners were treated terribly, but I’ll leave that alone for now), residents of Ada County would have seen their taxes increase exponentially just to cover a possibly unintended consequence of the Highway 16 funding package passed at the state level in 2021. Legislative leadership in the House caused this money to be delayed at least an extra year before a bill was passed and all of us (especially those in Canyon and Gem counties) will see the impact of those delays as Highway 16 is completed at the State level without the county connections being completed at the same time.

    And yes, I am an ACHD Commissioner.

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