‘Reclaim Idaho’ Tied to Shady California Union while Pretending to Be ‘Grassroots’

Reclaim Idaho, one of the main groups behind the Medicaid expansion initiative (Proposition 2) on the November 2018 ballot, and currently lobbying against work requirements for some able-bodied Medicaid recipients, paints itself as completely grassroots. But that’s not the case.

Reclaim Idaho is allied with a controversial California union that spends millions of dollars exploiting state ballot measures across the country, including here in Idaho.

Reclaim Idaho is now trying to deny its extensive ties with a group called “The Fairness Project,” which is a front organization for the controversial Oakland, California-based Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW for short). But documentation shows that the two groups are very close.

The union is intent on spreading its influence and political agenda from California to states across the country.

The fact that Reclaim Idaho would ally itself with such a group raises serious questions.

Here are links to documents, articles and statements that show how Reclaim Idaho has allied itself with this controversial California union, and how the union set up a dark-money (meaning it doesn’t have to disclose its finances) front group to exploit state ballot measures for its own gain:


How the Fairness Project got started:

“The Fairness Project” was started in 2015 by the Oakland, California-based SEIU-UHW union, as a tool for backing progressive initiative campaigns in California and nationwide (article in the Washington Post).

Campaigns & Elections article: “Labor Backs ‘Venture Fund’ for Initiative Races”


The Fairness Project’s Goals: Exert Union Power, Use Other States’ Ballot Initiatives, Spread the ‘Resistance’ & ‘Revolution’

Union boss Dave Regan, the force behind the Fairness Project, is very clear about his intentions in statements he’s made at union executive board meetings, the minutes of which are available online:

In August 2017, Regan “describe[d] ballot measures as a tool to exert union strength” and spoke of ” the opportunity to use similar tactics both within and outside of California” (union executive board meeting minutes):


In September 2018 Regan detailed the millions of dollars he was spending on initiative campaigns, including here in Idaho, and how he got a $500,000 check from a foundation run by left-wing billionaire activist George Soros (union meeting minutes):


Regan calls spending on state ballot initiatives “the best value in American politics” (Washington Post) and “the best bargain in American politics” (Sacramento Bee):


Fairness Project staffers tout their ability to use other states’ initiatives to spread their leftist agenda nationwide:

Former executive director Ryan Johnson in 2016 told disappointed Bernie Sanders supporters they could use ballot measures to “Continue The Revolution” (HuffPost):


Current executive director Jonathan Schleifer says state ballot initiatives are a way to spread “The Resistance” (Salon):


Reclaim Idaho Allied itself with California Union Front Group The Fairness Project

Although Reclaim Idaho leader Luke Mayville — a progressive New York City resident and Ivy League political science teacher — now denies it, Reclaim Idaho began to ally itself with the Fairness Project at some point in late 2017 or early 2018.

Fairness Project Executive Director Jonathan Schleifer says his group contacted Reclaim Idaho about the Medicaid expansion initiative and said, “hey, we want to help you do this right and win” (ProgressivesEverywhere.com):


In March 2018 the Sandpoint Reader reported that “Mayville said Reclaim Idaho will use paid signature gatherers through the Fairness Project, a non-profit that helped Maine get Medicaid expansion on the ballot, to collect signatures in a few “key locations” around Idaho”:


The Fairness Project spent about a half-million dollars on paid signature-gatherers and consulting for Medicaid expansion. Click here, here, and here for campaign finance reports filed with the Idaho Secretary of State:


During the campaign, current Reclaim Idaho Executive Director and at the time Reclaim Idaho volunteer Rebecca Schroeder traveled to San Jose, California, to pitch Reclaim Idaho and the Medicaid expansion initiative at a private executive board meeting of the SEIU-UHW union. Soon after, the SEIU-UHW gave an additional $3 Million to the Fairness Project in the form of a loan (SEIU-UHW meeting minutes):


After the November 2018 election, the political consultant for the Medicaid expansion initiative explicitly said the Fairness Project worked with Reclaim Idaho and other members of the initiative coalition, and that the Fairness Project provided its donors list which gave the campaign about $850,000 in outside contributions (HealthAffairs.org):

It’s clear Reclaim Idaho has extensive ties to this shady California union front group. For more than a year Reclaim Idaho has sold itself to Idahoans as completely grassroots, while hiding and/or downplaying its alliance with the Fairness Project. 

It’s time to hold Reclaim Idaho accountable. Stay tuned.


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