Idaho leaders don’t act on McGeachin legal fee request
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Legislature’s budget-setting committee on Friday decided not to act on a request by Republican Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin for extra money to pay a private attorney she hired in a public records dispute.
The Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee voted 18-0 to approve a budget of $202,200 for her office for the next fiscal year that starts on July 1, omitting her supplemental request of $29,000 for legal fees during the current fiscal year that ends June 30.
The committee didn’t specifically reject the request, but not taking it up has the same impact. It’s possible the committee could revisit the matter before the legislative session ends, but that would be unusual.
The committee didn’t discuss the legal fees request before voting on the lieutenant governor’s budget.
McGeachin’s office has already paid the $29,000 legal fees, and only has about $40,000 remaining for expenses with four months left in the current fiscal year, meaning there may not be enough money left to pay her office’s employees.
Efforts to reach McGeachin and her representatives for comment were not successful. No one answered the door at her office Friday afternoon and Jordan Watters, McGeachin’s chief of staff, didn’t respond to an email.
The Idaho attorney general’s office advised McGeachin to make the records public to journalists who requested them, but she hired a private attorney in an effort to keep them secret.
The Idaho Press Club sued on behalf of the journalists and won and McGeachin made the documents public in October.
The public records included feedback from people regarding her newly created Education Task Force, which was tasked with investigating alleged “indoctrination” in the state’s public school system, something McGeachin said was necessary to “protect our young people from the scourge of critical race theory, socialism, communism and Marxism.”
Many of the comments opposed the task force, with some people saying that McGeachin was supporting censorship. Others said children need to learn history and how to think critically.