Wayne Hoffman is a former newspaper reporter and current president of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, a non-profit, free market think tank based in Boise that has risen to prominence as a government watchdog and promoter of limited government policies. IFF formed in 2009, as the Tea Party movement was forming, and though the group does not lobby or support candidates, many of its policy recommendations coincide with the “Liberty” wing of the Idaho Republican Party.
Age: 42 #politcalanimal is a feature of the TBR 5 Midterm Election issue. For an overview, see Miller.
Education: Arkansas State, BA in Communications
Occupation: President, IFF
Vehicle: Ralph Smeed’s old Prius
Diet: Allergic to red meat
Favorite TV show: none, grazer, likes sci-fi
What moment led you to become politically aware and/or politically active?
I don’t want to say there was a moment. I’ve always been around public policy,
and just to differentiate, there’s politics, which is campaigns and things like that. I’ve done my share of that, but my major interest has always been the public policy. So, when i was a reporter, I did the usual chasing ambulances… but the thing that always interested me was the way in which the policies, whether passed by a city council, a county board or a state or federal entity… impact people, impact businesses, or families, individuals.
I grew up around the news, we had a real news-centric household… we would watch an hour and a half of evening network news every night. That was back in the day when you had three: ABC, NBC and CBS. We watched all three of them, followed by Jeopardy. In high school we had a radio station on our high school campus. There I learned, first, radio journalism.
We’ve watched the disintegration of real journalism; you don’t have people that are writing about public policy anymore. What they are writing about is politics. There’s a lot of interest in the comings and goings of politicians but not really what those politicians are working on or why it’s important… As journalism departed from that focus I decided I wanted to find a way to get back to that.
What/who were your influences?
I always talk about Ralph Smeed… Ralph convinced me in the mid-90s of the fallacy of the objective journalist and taught me a great deal about free markets and the lack of free market representation in the mainstream media…. He convinced me that I had a very narrow view of policy setting that was focused, like a lot of journalists are… that was government-centric.
Why do you STAY involved?
We’re having a tremendous impact. Those successes are extraordinarily exciting. I always thought that I could have an impact as a reporter. You know, you write a story and you expose government waste, you give people a different view, a way of looking at things. The impact that we’ve managed to have in the last six years makes journalism pale in comparison… We’ve been able to focus on the things that we think matter.
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of Boise State University, the Center for Idaho History and Politics, or the School of Public Service.