Idaho leaders fail to act on McGeachin’s legal fee claim

FILE - Idaho Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin enters the chambers of the state capitol building house, Monday, Jan. 10, 2022, in Boise, Idaho.  The Legislative Budget Committee forwarded a request from McGeachin for additional money to pay a private attorney she hired in a public records dispute.  (AP Photo/Otto Kitsinger, File)

FILE – Idaho Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin enters the chambers of the state capitol building house, Monday, Jan. 10, 2022, in Boise, Idaho. The Legislative Budget Committee forwarded a request from McGeachin for additional money to pay a private attorney she hired in a public records dispute. (AP Photo/Otto Kitsinger, File)

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On Friday, the Legislative Budget Committee decided not to act on a request by Republican Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin for additional money to pay a private lawyer she has hired in a dispute over public records.

The Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee voted 18-0 to approve a $202,200 budget for its office for the next fiscal year that begins July 1, omitting its additional request for $29,000 for legal fees during the year. current fiscal year ending June 30.

The committee did not expressly deny the request, but not following up on it has the same impact. It is possible that the committee will reconsider the matter before the end of the legislative session, but that would be unusual.

The committee did not discuss the claim for legal fees before voting on the lieutenant governor’s budget.

McGeachin’s office has already paid the $29,000 in legal fees and only has about $40,000 left for expenses with four months remaining in the current fiscal year, which means there may not be any left. not enough money to pay the employees in his office.

Efforts to reach McGeachin and his representatives for comment were unsuccessful. No one answered his office door Friday afternoon and Jordan Watters, McGeachin’s chief of staff, did not respond to an email.

The Idaho attorney general’s office advised McGeachin to make the records public to reporters 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 reporters and won, and McGeachin released the documents to the public in October.

Public records included comments from people regarding his new education task force, tasked with investigating alleged “indoctrination” in the state’s public school system, which McGeachin said is necessary to “protect our young people. of the scourge of critical race theory, socialism, communism and Marxism.

Many comments opposed the task force, with some people saying that McGeachin supported censorship. Others said children need to learn history and think critically.

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