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State by Day, Politics by Night

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Making ends meet isn't as easy as snaring a state job. Sometimes a guy's gotta moonlight. But when that second job is political in nature, it raises more eyebrows than usual. Hence the confusion when Wayne Hoffman, the spokesman for the Idaho Department of Agriculture, became a spokesman for Tom Luna, one of three Republicans in the May 23 primary for the job of state superintendent of schools. When he's not at work for the state, Hoffman, a former reporter for the Idaho Statesman, is busy pumping out press releases and propaganda for Luna.

After years as a middle-of-the-road reporter, Hoffman calls this liberation.

"You put aside all your politics for your entire life," Hoffman said. "Now, I'm helping Republicans get elected and I'm loving it."

Of course, he's been selective about which Republicans he helps; now some of the others are tiring of his double-duty.

"It burns me to no end," said Rep. Steve Smylie, one of the other Republicans in the race. "There cannot help but be some crossover." Smylie has noticed Hoffman at some education-related meetings, he said, where the Department of Agriculture has no obvious business.

Hoffman, a political appointee, said he's cautious about how he spends his time so as not to run afoul of state law regarding political conduct.

So long as he doesn't do political work on state time or state equipment, he's OK, said Bob Cooper of the Idaho Attorney General's Office. "What you do in your own time with your own equipment is your own business," Cooper said.