Idaho's Weekly Journal of Local & National Commentary Week 2815


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Boise's Watergate
 University Place and All The Governor's Men


 Deep Throat II


Chapter 3 - Cryptic Partners



“What would happen if every homeowner in Idaho ran out and had their lawyer form their own 501 c (3) non-profit dummy corporation called Friends of My Favorite Fixer Upper Home, Inc., rented their own home from their “Friends” tax-exempt corporation, and had their “Friends” pay their mortgage to the bank and thus avoid all county property taxes?  After that, you can buy your home from your “Friends” for one dollar.  That’s exactly what the Ada County Commissioners and the Friends of the Ada County Judicial System, Inc. did in their fake rent-purchase scheme to get around the Idaho Constitution and run a deficit.”
  Deep Throat II

Who is Civic Partners?  Whoever they are, they donated the maximum allowable campaign contribution, $5,000 according to, to Governor Kempthorne in 2002, the same year the Governor and all his merry men went before the Idaho state legislature and put on a dog and pony show to convince 88 out of 105 legislators to issue $136 million for tax-exempt bonds via the Idaho State Building Authority (ISBA) to pay for the University Place fiasco.

Several different versions of Civic Partners existed during this fiasco:  (1) Wilmore Holdings, Inc., (2) Civic Partners, LLC, (3) Civic Partners Idaho, LLC, and (4) Civic Partners West, LLC.  Steve Semingson is the president or CEO of each.  Since nobody seems to know what all these versions of Civic Partners did to earn over $28 million in pre-development costs billed to the U of I Foundation, I refer to them collectively as Cryptic Partners.

How Cryptic Partners became the highest paid recipient of the money spent on Boise’s University Place is a long twisted story.  Let’s cut right to the chase, keep it short, and start at their questionable beginning:  namely, winning the RFP (Request For Proposal) for developing all the property along Boise’s Court House Corridor.

First, Ada County decided to buy 14.25 acres of bare land in downtown Boise from Union Pacific Railroad.  How did they do it?

Before Cryptic Partners flew into Boise in the early 1990s, the Ada County Commissioners and Idaho’s legal community (from regular lawyers to the Idaho Supreme Court Justices) pulled off the judicial stunt of the century:  an unconstitutional end run around the voters to illegally purchase 14 acres by pretending to lease it through a dummy corporation.

According to Idaho’s constitution, Article 8, Section 3, no government agency can incur a debt that goes into future years, a deficit, without a two-thirds majority approval of the voters.  In 1990, fearing the voters would vote NO on a bond by Ada County to purchase land to build a new Court House, the Ada County Commissioners, Boise law firms, and Idaho judges openly met to find a way to circumvent Idaho’s Constitution.

     Ada County Commissioners, with no authority from the taxpayers, cut a check for $50,000 and paid it to Stewart Title Co. to hold the 14 acres owned by Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR).

Then, three Boise lawyers, Jack Hawley, Howard Manweiller, and Carl P. Burke, formed a 501 c (3) non-profit corporation called Friends of the Ada County Judicial System, Inc., the function of which was to buy the UPRR land for $4 million and pretend to lease it to Ada County for 4 years, thus allowing Ada County to circumvent Idaho’s Constitution and carry a deficit from year to year to buy the land for a new Court House.  Two of the three Ada County Commissioners, Roger Simmons and Vern Bisterfeldt – but not Gary Glenn, who vehemently opposed the fake lease-purchase scam – and all the politicians including Boise Mayor Dirk Kempthorne (now Governor Kempthorne who participated in the University Place scam), leading Boise lawyers and judges, and Idaho Statesman columnist Dan Popkey claimed the fake rent-purchase deal was completely legal, above board, and the most brilliant far-sighted maneuver for public-private development ever conceived in Idaho’s legal history.

But Stewart Title Co. said to the Friends of the Ada County Judicial System, hey, $50,000 isn’t enough for a down payment to buy the $4 million UPRR land; we need $800,000 for a down payment.  So, Ada County – once again without approval from the taxpayers – cut another check for $750,000 and gave it to Friends for Friends to purchase the UPRR land.

But wait a minute.  Screech, halt.  How can Ada County pay $800,000 in supposed rent to Friends of the Ada County Judicial System, Inc. for property that Friends did not own yet?  The face of both checks from the Ada County Treasurer state they are for the purchase of the UPRR land, not rent.  In fact, the $50,000 Ada County check cannot be a rental check to the Friends since it was made out to Stewart Title Co. to purchase the land.  So who’s kidding whom?  The Idaho legal community was simply helping Ada County violate Idaho’s Constitution, Article 8, Section 3, by pretending to rent empty land for $1 million per year to Ada County while Ada County ran a $4 million deficit for 4 years by purchasing the UPRR land through a dummy non-profit corporation, a corporation created, in part, by lawyer Carl P. Burke whose law firm Elam & Burke is currently facing charges of misconduct (along with law firm Givens Pursley and 3 lawyers from both firms) by the Idaho State Bar Association.  All of the same perps (and Cryptic Partners) are also facing multiple lawsuits -- $7 million, $18 million, and $25 million -- by the U of I, and U of I Foundation in the subsequent University Place fiasco.

Back to the scene of the Court House fake rent-purchase land scam.  This is important because it sets the stage for the future involvement of the Boise legal community and Cryptic Partners.

So Ada County Commissioners violated the Idaho Constitution and illegally bought the UPRR land for a new Court House by illegally running a deficit not approved by the voters.  How did Ada County ultimately buy the land after they supposedly rented it for $4 million for 4 years?  At the end of the fake 4-year lease, the Friends of the Ada County Judicial System Inc. sold the Court House land to Ada County for $1.00.  One dollar.

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