April 17, 2010, Associated Press | Shades of Lou Dobbs! Who are these former reporters who are becoming self-styled conservative activists? One Wayne Hoffman has created the Idaho Freedom Foundation, active with Boise state legislators advocating in favor of limited government on topics such as (opposing) health care reform. Hoffman actually says his organization doesn’t tell legislators “You should kill this bill,” but even Republican state legislators (Hoffman is a Republican Party fixture in Idaho) say that he’s lobbying. Among his recent causes were efforts to: oppose a 1 percent payment increase for Idaho government retirees, oppose the state income tax form check-off allowing filers to designate money for public financing of electoral campaigns, and promote Idaho’s joining other states to sue the federal government over health insurance mandates.

His foundation is a nonprofit think-tank, according to his website, and he says that as a nonprofit, he doesn’t have to disclose his funding sources. AP says that Hoffman’s group is “linked to the conservative State Policy Network,” based in Richmond, California, which advances free-market think tanks like this one. So he doesn’t support or oppose political candidates or engage in lobbying, he says. But he organized a Tea Party rally in Boise a couple of months ago and brought libertarian Congressman Ron Paul to Boise in March. His Freedom Foundation also supports an online news site, which is supported through donations to the Foundation. We’re heartened that this libertarian activist sees the value of nonprofit support for state and local news. Now, someone please explain to him that while 501(c)(3)s like the Idaho Freedom Foundation cannot engage in partisan electoral activities, 501(c)(3)s can lobby. We’d be glad to refer Hoffman to the Alliance for Justice or the Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest to give him a course in the basics.—Rick Cohen