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Idaho university can’t hire lobbyists, so its alumni association got one

Jeremy Pisca was recently hired by the Univeristy of Idaho’s Alumni Association. | Courtesy IdahoEdNews.org
Originally posted on IdahoEdNews.org on March 19, 2024.
At University of Idaho President C. Scott Green’s urging, the university’s alumni association has hired a lobbyist for the 2024 session.
Jeremy Pisca — a U of I law school alumnus and veteran Statehouse lobbyist — is receiving an unspecified sum to work on several issues, including the proposed University of Phoenix purchase.
Green encouraged the alumni association to make the hire, since the state-funded university cannot actively lobby. An alumni association, which receives no taxpayer dollars, faces no such restrictions.
“Along with our higher education counterparts, the U of I faces a growing and concerning number of policy issues, which seem to change almost daily,” Green said in a recent letter to U of I alumni association board members. “The risks are real and threaten to hinder our progress and ability to deliver academic excellence, research innovation and student success.”
David Halperin — a Washington, D.C. attorney and critic of for-profit universities such as Phoenix — wrote Monday on his Republic Report website about Green’s letter and Pisca’s hire. Idaho Education News obtained a copy of Green’s letter later Monday.
Hiring a lobbyist moves U of I alumni into “uncharted territory,” Green wrote. But he said the arrangement is not unusual; Boise State University, for example, has hired a lobbyist through its alumni association.
The hire comes as the U of I faces close scrutiny at the Statehouse, particularly because of its $685 million plan to acquire Phoenix.
Earlier this month, the House passed a resolution urging the State Board of Education to reconsider its support of the Phoenix purchase. The resolution also threatens a lawsuit that could delay or derail the purchase. The Senate has not yet acted on the resolution, and Senate President Pro Tem Chuck Winder has indicated he’d prefer to restructure the Phoenix deal.
Pisca registered as the alumni association’s lobbyist on Feb. 16, one day after a House committee introduced the resolution challenging the Phoenix purchase.
“Though certainly not the only priority of the university, discussions surrounding the University of Phoenix acquisition have received the lion’s share of attention,” Pisca told EdNews in an email, responding to questions about his lobbying work.
Pisca said he is working for the alumni association this session at a “reduced rate.” He declined to elaborate.
According to a lobbyist’s report, filed with the secretary of state’s office, Pisca said he spent $5.86 in February entertaining on the alumni association’s behalf. According to the report, this work was related to two other bills on the sale of state facilities, and was not related to the Phoenix resolution.
Pisca is among the Statehouse’s busiest lobbyists, under contract with 31 different clients. His client list includes Amazon, Micron Technology, Saint Alphonsus Health System and the Newspaper Association of Idaho.
The hire is an attempt to address a “short-term need,” Green wrote. “Following the close of this session, we will focus our attention on devising a longer-term plan.”
The post Idaho university can’t hire lobbyists, so its alumni association got one appeared first on East Idaho News.
Source: eastidahonews.com

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