Business Review: John Foster, Kate Haas Countersue Strategies 360

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The Idaho Business Review reports that former journalist and current lobbyist John Foster is countersuing his former employer in the wake of his firing over working with the Otter administration. Foster's colleague, Kate Haas, has joined in the countersuit.

Foster and Haas, who worked together for former Democratic Congressman Walt Minnick and later staffed the Boise office of Strategies 360, were dismissed by the Seattle-based consulting group in early February soon after aligning with Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter to support the so-called "Luna laws," a controversial package of education reforms passed by the 2011 Idaho Legislature. The Luna laws will be challenged in this November's election and the Otter administration is gearing up to promote the reforms.

But Strategies 360 claimed it was losing clients because of the new alignment with Otter, and Foster and Haas were dismissed soon thereafter. Strategies 360 sued the pair, claiming they broke a non-compete clause in their employment agreements. Foster and Haas started another consulting and lobbying firm, Kestrel West. Strategies 360 claimed that Foster and Haas had poached their client list when starting their new firm.

But according to IBR, Foster and Haas, in their countersuit, claim that officials with Stategies 360 signed off on the Otter project and were "encouraging." Foster and Haas additionally claim that they were fired without cause and did not steal any clients. They're seeking 30 days of back pay, attorney fees and punitive damages for defamation of character and breach of contract.

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