BOISE — Two payments of $10,000 sent to a recently-formed Wyoming company were for polling, consulting and voter registration work, a staffer for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paulette Jordan’s campaign said.
Campaign manager Nate Kelly said Wednesday the entity doing the work registered as a Wyoming company in late July to remain anonymous in heavily Republican Idaho. Kelly said the company feared retribution if it became known it was doing work for a Democratic candidate.
“We’re about transparency,” Kelly said. “We want to be an open book and not be distracted. Everything is on the up and up.”
Jordan reported the expenditure in campaign finance reports filed last week with the Idaho secretary of state’s office.
The company registered in Wyoming as Roughneck Steering Inc. drew attention among Jordan’s hundreds of expense entries because Wyoming’s laws don’t require the officers of a company to be made public with the initial filing. That made it impossible to know from the finance report who was behind the company and why Jordan sent it $20,000.
Roughneck Steering also has a mail-forwarding address in the same building in Sheridan as a federal political action committee, or super PAC, called Strength and Progress. That entity was created to accept donations from the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, of which Jordan is a member. The super PAC, which has said it will spend money on Native American issues nationally, hasn’t yet reported money it has taken in or spent.
Kelly said there’s no connection between Jordan’s campaign and the super PAC, and no money going from one to the other. “No money came from the campaign, and no money is going to the campaign,” he said. “Absolutely none.”
Kelly said the $20,000 Roughneck Steering paid for a poll that involved more than 10,000 calls, consulting for the campaign, and continued efforts behind getting people to vote.
Roughneck Steering was registered with the Wyoming secretary of state’s office on July 26. Jordan’s campaign sent $10,000 on Aug. 2 and another $10,000 Sept. 6. Jordan listed the payments as general operational expenses.
The address in Sheridan with the mail-forwarding service is also the address of a company called Registered Agents Inc., which specializes in getting companies registered in Wyoming. Registered Agents Inc. on Wednesday confirmed it registered Roughneck Steering and Strength and Progress but declined to provide additional details.
“Business owners seeking privacy, security, and high-end business maintenance solutions hire Registered Agents Inc.,” the company says on its website.
Under Wyoming’s laws, Roughneck Steering and Strength and Progress will have to report officers when they renew their status with the Wyoming secretary of state’s office a year after the initial filing. That requirement is removed if the companies dissolve before reaching that date.
Jaclyn Kettler, an assistant professor in the School of Public Service at Boise State University, said having the two companies with a mailing address in the same building and being registered by the same company doesn’t mean anything inappropriate is happening, but raises some questions.
“We know some of what is going on, but we’re missing some of the pieces to understand the complete picture,” she said.