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McGeachin forgoes salary to keep budget in the black

Idaho Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin stands on the steps of the capitol holding a microphone surrounded by a small group in business attire. She is wearing a blue dress.
Keith Ridler
FILE - In this Sept. 15, 2021 file photo, Republican Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin addresses a rally on the Statehouse steps in Boise, Idaho. McGeachin is a far-right Republican who is running for governor. This week she sought to activate the Idaho National Guard and send soldiers to the U.S.-Mexico border while Gov. Brad Little, also a Republican, was out of state. Mainstream Idaho Republicans concerned about a takeover by the surging far-right wing of the party are asking Democrats, Independents or other affiliated voters to register as Republicans to vote in the party's May primary. (AP Photo/Keith Ridler, File)

Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin missed a deadline on Wednesday to let the state budget chief know how she planned to cover an expected budget shortfall.

McGeachin wrote budget chief Alex Adams an email Thursday, instructing him to withhold her salary to keep her budget in the black.

“I have always been transparent with the finances of my office, as you well know, Alex,” she wrote in the email.

Previous publicly-released communications between the state Office of Financial Management and the Lt. Governor over this issue have not included accusations of lacking transparency.

The expenses stem from a private attorney McGeachin hired for a lawsuit filed by the Idaho Press Club when she refused to release documents related to her education indoctrination task force. A judge ruled against her, and ordered she pay nearly $29,000 in attorney's fees.

State lawmakers this session declined to appropriate more money to her budget.

Adams responded to McGeachin in an email asking for more specific instructions, including if she wanted to continue holding vendor payments until the next fiscal year which begins in July. This savings could save some of her salary, but could eat into the budget of the next lieutenant governor.

Adams also wanted to know how she would pay for her health insurance without a salary; she could risk losing coverage.

McGeachin's chief of staff resigned in March and a part-time administrative assistant is no longer with her office.

In her email, she called his request for a plan a “pointless formality.”

Adams set a Monday deadline for McGeachin to respond and called the situation unprecedented. The Idaho constitution requires the state keep a balanced budget.

Troy Oppie is a reporter and local host of 'All Things Considered' for Boise State Public Radio News.
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