‘Pizza for the hungry’ GOP flyers cause confusion for people facing homelessness in Twin Falls

Origin of the flyers advertising a free meal during the 2022 Idaho GOP convention is unknown

By: - July 15, 2022 7:21 pm
Idaho Republican Party convention sign

The 2022 Idaho Republican Party convention is taking place in Twin Falls. (Kelcie Moseley-Morris/Idaho Capital Sun)

Individuals not affiliated with Idaho Republican Party Chairman Tom Luna’s campaign for a second term distributed flyers advertising free pizza to local shelters for people facing homelessness, causing confusion at a campaign event on Thursday night, party officials said.

Luna’s event, called “Pizza and Patriots,” was advertised to all delegates at the Idaho Republican Party Convention in Twin Falls. Jake Miller, director of communications for the party, said Luna discovered an alternate flyer was distributed to at least one local homeless shelter with the title, “Pizza for the hungry.” Miller said he did not know who distributed the flyers.

pizza for the hungry flyer
An alternate flyer advertising a free meal at a Tom Luna for chairman campaign event was distributed to at least one Twin Falls homeless shelter with the title, “Pizza for the hungry.” (Courtesy of Tyler Hurst)

Rep. Dorothy Moon, R-Stanley, is running against Luna for the position, and the election will take place Saturday at the convention. Moon could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Luna, who was elected as Idaho’s superintendent of public instruction in 2006 and served two terms, was elected as the Idaho Republican Party chairman in 2020. Moon was elected to the Idaho Legislature in 2016 and ran for secretary of state in the May Republican primary, narrowly losing to Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane. 

Tyler Hurst, a Republican campaign staffer, organized the Pizza and Patriots event for Luna and said he was sitting in the hotel where the event took place and saw a child come up to the front desk and ask if it was the place where they could get pizza for dinner.

When he realized what was happening, Hurst said he told them there was free pizza for everyone and that it was a town hall event.

“I didn’t want them to feel out of place or embarrassed. These are people who left their homes behind, and they’re just looking for something to eat,” Hurst said. “I don’t care about being politically punked, but what was really sad is the position it put these little kids in.”

Hurst said he spoke with Moon, who told him she had no knowledge of the action and thought it was terrible. 

A representative of Valley House, one of the major shelters for people facing homelessness in Twin Falls, confirmed that a man had dropped off the alternate flyers on Thursday. She didn’t know who the person was but said she thought it was great and distributed them to shelter residents.

In a statement, Luna said it was a shameful act.

Pizza and patriots flyer
Idaho GOP chairman Tom Luna advertised a “Pizza & Patriots” event through this flyer. (Kelcie Moseley-Morris/Idaho Capital Sun)

“We can’t allow this behavior to be tolerated. My heart goes out to those families and children in need who showed up at our event,” Luna said in the statement. “I hope, I ask every Republican to stand up for what is right and not reward this kind of behavior.”

Luna has publicly stated that he was unhoused and lived in a tent at one point when he was growing up — that he used to go to school hungry with unkempt hair and clothing. That fact added to his anger, Hurst said.

“His first instinct was, ‘How dare you use people who are already in a tough spot as pawns,’” Hurst said. “This is stupid. What we do here is a hobby, and this is people’s lives. It’s horrible.”

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Kelcie Moseley-Morris
Kelcie Moseley-Morris

Kelcie Moseley-Morris is an award-winning journalist who has covered many topics across Idaho since 2011. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Idaho and a master’s degree in public administration from Boise State University. Moseley-Morris started her journalism career at the Moscow-Pullman Daily News, followed by the Lewiston Tribune and the Idaho Press.